How to Create a Line Art Minimal Designer's Stamp in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you love Illustrator as much as I do, this tutorial is perfect for you, as it will teach you how to create an awesome little stamp in honor of the little buddy that made everything vector possible.
As you might have guessed, the process will be based mainly on simple shapes and a little touch of Pathfinder, so everything should be really straightforward.
Assuming you're already inside Adobe Illustrator, create a new document with the following settings:
  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels
And from the Advanced tab:
  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked

setting up a new document

Even though our illustration will be fairly simple, we're still going to layer it so that we can work our way up without having to worry about accidentally moving parts around.
So, head up to the Layers panel and create three layers and name them as follows:
  1. background
  2. stamp
  3. interface

setting up the layers

Quick tip: as we will be working on one layer at a time, I usually recommend locking the layers that are not currently being used, so that you can focus on the one you are working on. To do so, simply click on the empty box near the View icon of the Layerspanel. Once you've locked a layer, a little lock icon will appear, letting you know that the layer is currently unavailable.
Now that our document is set up and layered properly, it's time to create the color palette that we will be using during our design process.
First, make sure you're on the background layer, and then create a little square (just a few pixels above the Artboard) using the Rectangle Tool (M), coloring it using#E8E3E3. Duplicate the form by selecting it and then dragging to the right while holding down Alt. Color the duplicate using #474040.
As you can see, at this point we have a very light color, and a very dark one, so we need to fill in that gap. Instead of going through our Color Picker and trying out different colors, we're going to make use of the Blend function. With both of the rectangles selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options.

creating a color palette using the Blend tool

Once the Blend Options popup window appears, make sure to change the spacing toSpecified Steps and modify the value on the right to 7.

blend options

Because we will be using the Eyedropper Tool (I) to apply colors directly to the objects (instead of entering the hex values), we need to number the squares from left to right so that we know which values to use.

numbering the color palette

  1. #F7F2F2
  2. #E1DCDC
  3. #CBC5C5
  4. #B5AFAF
  5. #9F9999
  6. #898383
  7. #736D6D
  8. #5D5656
  9. #474040
Even though we have a palette of nine colors, we won't actually use all of them, as I wanted you to have a little room to create a darker or lighter overall interface, so where you find that a darker value might suit your need, simply try that and see how it looks.
Quick tip: as you might have noticed, the color blend you've just created is linked in a straight line, so you can't really click on one of the squares without selecting all of them. You can change this by clicking on the blend, and then expanding it (Object > Expand).

expanding the color palette

Now that we have our colors, it's time to start using them. The first thing we need to create is a background to hold our design. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 800 x 600 px shape and color it using the value from square number five.
To do so, simply grab the Eyedropper Tool (I) click on the color, and then hold downAlt and click on the background to apply the hue to it.
Next we need to make sure that our background is both vertically and horizontally aligned to our Artboard. This is where the Align panel comes in help. With the object selected, use the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center functions to position it right in the middle.

aligning the background to the artboard

Quick tip: if you've noticed that the align functions don't work, it might be due to the fact that you have Align To set up to Align to Selection, instead of Align to Artboard.
Once you've aligned the background, it's time to lock the layer and move on up to the stamp one, where we will actually start working on the shape of our little illustration.
As I said in the beginning, the entire artwork will be constructed using basic shapes. To create the stamp, we will need a rectangle, a couple of circles, and that's about it.
First, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 230 x 280 px shape, which we will color using square number two. As with the background, use the Align panel to center it both vertically and horizontally.

creating the stamp base shape

Next we need to select the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 30 x 30 px shape. Because we have multiple cutouts on each side of the stamp (four on the top and bottom, and five on the left and right) we have to duplicate the initial circle and distance the objects at 20 px from one another, making sure that each side of the stamp's base shape goes exactly through the center of the circles.

aligning the circles for the cut outs

As soon as you have everything set in place, simply select both the main rectangle and the circles and use the Minus Front function in Pathfinder to create the cutouts.

using minus front to create the stamp cut outs

You should now have something like this.

stamp basic shape with cut outs

Next we need to add the thicker outline to give the illustration some weight. Simply duplicate the previously created shape (Control-C > Control-F), and then use theOffset Path function (Effect > Path > Offset Path).

using offset path to create an outline

Once the popup box appears, change the values as follows:
  • Offset: 8 px
  • Joins: Miter
  • Miter limit: 4 px

offset path settings

As soon as the offset is made, expand the form (Object > Expand), change its color to the value of square number nine, and then make sure to position it under the lighter shape using the Arrange function (Arrange > Send to Back).

sending the stamps outline to the back

At this point our illustration should look something like this.

basic stamp with outline

Next, let's add some soft highlights towards the top section of the stamp. Duplicate the grey object (Control-F), and paste it in place (Control-C). Because we need to subtract one object from its duplicate, we need to make sure to create two copies. Once you have them, simply move the top one about 4 px down, select both it and the one underneath, and then use Pathfinder's Minus Front function.

adding highlights to the stamp

Color the resulting group of objects using the value from square number one.

stamp with highlights

We will now move to our third and last layer to start adding the minimal interface that will complete our illustration.
As we've laid out our stamp's basic shape, we will now focus on creating the center piece, the interface. Make sure you have the first two layers locked, and then, using theRectangle Tool (M), create a 160 x 210 px object and vertically and horizontally align it to the Artboard using the Align panel. Change its color using the value from square number three.

creating the background for the stamps interface

Next, duplicate the previously created object, change its color to the value from square number nine, and then flip its fill with its stroke (Shift-X). Adjust the Stroke Weight to a thicker value of 8 px, and then make sure to expand the shape (Object > Expand).

adding an outline to the stamps interface

You might have noticed that the lighter shape goes about 4 px under the outline, but that's simply to make sure that no gaps between the two are formed.
Now that we have the interface's background and the outline to frame it from the rest of the stamp, we need to create the top bar and left sidebar.
Using our by now beloved Rectangle Tool (M), create a 152 x 22 px object, and position it just underneath the top section of our frame.

creating the interfaces top bar

Change its color to something darker (square number four) to distinguish it from the rest of the elements.
For the sidebar, first create an 18 x 180 px rectangle, and left align it to the previously created shape, making sure that the two touch towards the top. Then, create another smaller 18 x 92 px rectangle, color it using the value from square number five, and then bottom and left align it to the larger shape.

creating the interfaces left side bar

We now need to add some delimitations to the two sections of the interface. To do so, we will first create a 152 x 4 px shape, color it using square number nine, and position it just under the bottom side of our top bar.

adding a delimiter to the top bar

For the sidebar, we need to create a 4 x 177px object, using the same color as before, and make sure to position it on the bottom right side of our left interface panel.

adding a delimiter to the left side bar

As you can see we need just one more horizontal separator, so using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a smaller 18 x 4 px segment which we need to position just above the darker bottom section of our left sidebar.

basic stamp interface

Once we've separated the two sections of our interface, we need to add the top right corner buttons. Using the Ellipse Tool create a 10 x 10 px circle, flip its fill with its stroke, and then change the weight to 4 px.

creating the stamps interface top right buttons

Expand and then duplicate the button so that in the end you have three. Next, horizontally align them at 2 px from one another, making sure to position them on the top bar section, at about 6 px from the right side.
Quick Tip: you can use the Pixel Preview (View > Pixel Preview or Alt-Control-Y) in order to get a better view of the pixel grid. Please take note that I am using a customGrid with Gridlines every 1 px, and one subdivision. You can adjust your version of Illustrator to these values by going to Edit > Preferences > Guides and Grids.

positioning the stamps interface top right buttons

Now let's add some buttons to the sidebar. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool draw a 10 x 10 px shape, with a corner radius of 1 px. Use the same process of flipping the fill with a 4 px stroke, expand the shape, color it using square number nine, and position it on the sidebar at about 16 px from its top section. Create a duplicate and position that at about 8 px from the original shape.

positioning the stamps left side interface buttons

Once we have our buttons, it's time to add another set of soft highlights and a subtle shadow.
For the highlights, create two 152 x 2 px rectangles, color them using square number two, and position them as follows.

adding highlights to the stamps interface

Make sure the second highlight is positioned under the sidebar delimiter, by right-clicking on the object and using the Arrange > Send to Back function.

sending the highlights to the back of the interfaces delimiters

There's just one more highlight we need to add, under the frame holding the interface itself. Compared to the previous two we created, this one will be a little thicker, having a width of 168 px and a height of 4 px, and it will also have a brighter shade as it will be using the color from square number one.

adding the bottom interface highlight

For the shadow, simply create a 18 x 2 px rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M), color it using square number six, and then position it exactly at the bottom of the sidebar's horizontal delimiter.

adding the shadow for the left side bar

As you can see our illustration is almost done, all we need to add now being the central circle with its four anchor points.

stamp with basic interface and buttons

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 100 x 100px circle, position it in the center of the empty spaced rectangle that we have on the lower right corner of our interface, and make sure to use square number nine to color it.

creating the interfaces circle

Again, we have to repeat the same process of inverting the fill with the stroke (Shift-X), and changing the weight of the last to 8 px.

stroke settings for the circle

Quick tip: You could expand the shape right now, or you could first make use of its anchor points to position the next elements, and expand it once you've finished creating them. It's all up to you.
Now, in order to create the circle's illustrated square anchor points, we need to draw a14 x 14 px shape, color its fill using square number three, but enter a manual hex value (#474040—square number nine) for its stroke. You might wonder why we need both a fill and a stroke for these elements. Well, the answer is to cover up some portions of the circle, so that we won't have to cut out of it.

color settings for the circle

Once we've created our first anchor, simply duplicate it until you have a total of three copies, and then position the other two on the left and right side so that they align with the width of the circle.

positioning the circles anchor points

For the bottom anchor, which has the two handles, we first need to copy the top object we just created, move it down, make sure to swap the fill with its stroke, and finally remove the stroke completely.

positioning the circles bottom anchor point

Next, create a 90 x 6 px rectangle, and center-align it both vertically and horizontally to the bottom square. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a set of two 12 x 12 px objects, and position each one at the end of the bar we just created.

adding handles to the circles bottom anchor point

Once we've created our bottom anchor with the two handles, the only thing we need to add to our illustration is a slight reflection. To do so, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 160 x 24 px shape. Color it using square number one, and using theTransform function, rotate it at a 30° angle (right-click > Transform > Rotate).

interface reflection rotation settings

After you have rotated the object, lower its Opacity to about 50% and change itsBlending Mode to Soft Light.

interface reflection transparency settings

To position the reflection, use the Transform panel to input the following coordinates:
  • X: 444 px
  • Y: 286 px

positioning the interfaces reflection

As you can see, the reflection is actually going outside our stamp, so that means we need to create a Clipping Mask to show just a specific part of it. To do that, simply copy the interface's background (Control-C), paste it on top (Control-F) and with both it and our reflection selected, right-click > Make Clipping Mask.

creating a clipping mask for the interfaces reflection

You should now have a cool stamp that you can digitally use, or even print (if you don't mind some little color shifts due to the RGB to CMYK conversion) so that you can give it to one of your designer buddies.


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