Stars have been attracting people for centuries and we ended up inventing telescopes. In this tutorial, we’ll be creating a telescope, too! We’ll be using geometric shapes and most useful Adobe Illustrator functions to create a golden telescope icon and reach for the stars. Let’s get started!
- Program: Adobe Illustrator CS6-CC
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Topics Covered: Shape Building, Align Panel, Stroke panel, Shape Builder Tool
- Estimated Completion Time: 15 Minutes
Final Image: Telescope Icon
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and let’s start building our telescope icon from a 235 x 120 px orange shape with dark-purple Stroke.
Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and set the Weight to 7 pt, Corner to Round Joint and Align Stroke to Outside.
Then create another rectangle of 40 x 140 px with the same Stroke settings, but change its Fill color to yellow in the Color panel.
Let’s make sure that all our objects are perfectly centered. Select both rectangles and click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center in the Align panel on the control panel on top or in Window > Align. We can use the Align function every time when we need precise or fast alignment instead of doing it manually.
Select the yellow rectangle with the Selection Tool (V), hold down Alt-Shift and drag to the left, creating a copy. Make the copy narrower by squashing the rectangle to 20 x 140 px.
Let’s Copy the orange shape and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Extend the bottom shape further left, creating a 346 x 120 px shape. Then squash the tube to 345 x 65 px, creating a variation in the size of the elements.
Add a 20 x 90 px yellow rectangle to the tip of the smaller tube of our telescope icon.
Now let’s add a lens. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 70 x 120 px blue shape with the same Stroke settings as we have for all other elements.
Keeping the shape selected, press Shift-Control-[ to Send to Back, beneath all other elements.
Create a smaller ellipse (20 x 50 px) of light-blue color with no Stroke on top of the lens, this way depicting a highlight on the glass surface.
Let’s make the elements of the telescope icon more detailed and interesting. Copy the large orange tube and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Set the Stroke to None in the Color panel and make its Fill color a bit darker.
Now squash the shape so that its height equals approximately half of the original height. This way we’re creating a simple shading in the bottom of the telescope.
Add similar shading to the second orange tube of the telescope.
And now let’s add some screws or bolts to the body of the telescope. Take the Ellipse Tool (L), hold down Shift and make a 9 x 9 px circle with the same dark-purple Fill color as we have for the outlines of the elements.
Select the bolt with the Selection Tool (V), hold down Alt-Shift and drag to the opposite side, creating a copy. Then select both bolts, hold down Alt-Shift and drag down, creating two more copies.
Now we’ll add a three-legged stand to the telescope icon. Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool (you can find it in the same drop-down menu as the Rectangle Tool (M) and other geometric shapes) and draw a 15 x 190 px shape. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to control the roundness of the corners by dragging the dot marker of the Live Corner or by setting the Corner value manually in the control panel on top. Let’s make the corners of the leg fully rounded.
Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the leg a couple of times and rotate the shapes in opposite directions about 30 degrees, creating a stand.
Now we’ll add some simple highlights to the gold-yellow elements of our telescope. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two light-yellow stripes, one above the other, as shown in the image below. Select both stripes and press Control-8, turning them into a Compound Shape. That means that now we have one object instead of two.
Rotate the shape 45 degrees and place it on top of the gold-yellow element, making the shapes overlap.
Let’s get rid of the unneeded parts of the highlight. Select both overlapping shapes (the gold-yellow rectangle and the highlight shape) and take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold down Alt and hover the mouse over the parts that you want to erase. Once the shape becomes greyed-out, you will see a small «minus» sign next to the mouse cursor. Click the greyed-out element to delete it. Easy as that!
Add highlights to other golden elements of our telescope, using the same technique.
Let’s finish up with our telescope icon by Grouping (Control-G) the elements of its body into one group and its three-legged stand into other group.
Select the body group and rotate it 30 degrees, pointing the telescope at the sky.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to place an elliptical shadow on the ground.
Awesome! Our Golden Telescope Icon is ready!
Great work you guys! The telescope icon is done! We can give it a finished look by adding some simple elements for better presentation. For example, in my final variant, I’ve added a purple background and some stars in the sky, above the telescope. I’ve also changed the color of the ground shadow to dark-purple, making it match better with other colors.
Try various options and choose the one that works best for you!
Author: Yulia Sokolova
2D/3D artist and tutorial instructor, focusing on character creation, icons, lettering design, and illustrations.