Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator

In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a simple notes icon in Adobe Illustrator using only one shape.


For starters your will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create the main shape using several tools and effects along with some basic vector shape building techniques. Moving on, you will learn how to take full advantage of the Appearance panel and how to add subtle shading, highlights and textures for your shape. Finally, you will learn how to create an editable, scribbled piece of text.


Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator


Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CC
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Step 1

Hit Control + N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 600 in the width and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid, it will ease your work and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control + " keyboard shortcut.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 1


Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=238 G=230 B=209.

Move to your artboard and create a 170 x 165px rectangle. Make sure that this shape stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10 px Radius and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 2


Step 3

Make sure that your rectangle is still selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Return to your Toolbar and replace the existing fill color with R=39 G=170 B=225.

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create four, 10 px circles and place them exactly as shown in the second image.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 3


Step 4

Reselect all the shapes made so far, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button. In the end your shape should look like in the second image.

Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), open the existing layer, double click on your shape and rename it "main".

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 4


Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 610px square, send it to back using the Shift + Control + [ keyboard shortcut, make sure that it covers your entire artobard and then focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).

Select the fill and replace the existing color with R=101 G=182 B=225. Using the Add New Fill button, add a second fill for your shape, select it and add the radial gradient shown below. Keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage and use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient as shown in the following image.

Move to the Layers panel, rename the shape made in this step to "bg" and then lock it.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 5


Step 6

Disable the Grid (Control – ‘) and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control – ‘). Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=197 G=218 B=229 and then go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 6


Step 7

Make sure that your "main" shape is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that blue fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 7


Step 8

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=241 G=208 B=205 and then go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the attributes shown below, click OK

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 8


Step 9

Make sure that your "main" shape is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Reselect that pink fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 9


Step 10

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with the linear gradient shown in the following image and remember that the yellow numbers from the Gradient image stand for Opacity percentage while the white ones stand for Location percentage.

Return to the Appearance panel, click the "Opacity" piece of text that stands for this new fill to open the Transparency fly-out panel and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 10


Step 11

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fifth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with a simple black (R=0 G=0 B=0), lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light

Go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1 px Offset, click OK and then go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 11


Step 12

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=248 G=240 B=219

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 12


Step 13

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=228 G=220 B=199

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 13


Step 14

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=218 G=210 B=189

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 14


Step 15

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=228 G=220 B=199

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 15


Step 16

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=218 G=210 B=189

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 16


Step 17

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with R=198 G=190 B=169

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 17


Step 18

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with a simple black, lower its Opacity to 8%

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 18


Step 19

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with a simple black, lower its Opacity to 4%

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 19


Step 20

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with a simple black, lower its Opacity to 15%

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click the OK button.

Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 7 px Radius and then click OK.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 20


Step 21

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with the linear gradient shown below, lower its Opacity to 10%

Go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click OK

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 21


Step 22

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, add a new fill and drag it in the bottom of the panel. Select this new fill, replace the existing color with a simple black, lower its Opacity to 10%.

Go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click OK.

Go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 20 px Radius and then click OK.

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Step 23

Make sure that your "main" shape stays selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, reselect that bottom fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click OK.

Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15 px Radius and then click the OK button.

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Step 24

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Cooper Black font and set the size to 25 px. Click on your artboard, add the "Notes" piece of text, set its color to R=43 G=57 B=144 and place it as shown in the following image.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 24


Step 25

Make sure that your piece of text is still selected, lower its Opacity to 60% and go to Effect > Stylize > Scribble. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click the OK button and you’re done.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator 25


And We’re Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

How to Create a Notes Icon in Adobe Illustrator