06/02/2010 - Editorial.Iconshock

Illustrating a business briefcase in Windows 7 style


The new O.S. Windows 7 has improved aesthetics to make the user interface at least more appealing. There are huge ultra detailed icons for folders, devices and so on. This time we will use Illustrator CS4 to create a nice briefcase with the Windows 7 style. You need only a few basics on how to copy, paste, rotate, scale and color the shapes. Let’s focus on business.

Step 1 IMG001

Start selecting the Rounded Rectangle Tool (fig. A) and make a single left click on the art board to bring the Rounded Rectangle options configuration window appear. Use 16 px. for corner radius (fig. B) and press Accept. Then left click and drag to draw a shape as shown.

Step 2 IMG002

Take a look of the main axes (fig. B) that give a sensation of perspective. We will now transform the first rounded rectangle by selecting the Shear tool (fig. A) from the Tools Panel and drag the right side downwards. Also notice that the left side is just a bit smaller than the right one. This can be done by pressing E (Free Transform Tool) and dragging a corner while holding Ctrl after clicking.

Step 3 IMG003

Now prepare a smooth curve which will be reused in Step 12. First, select the Line Segment Tool and draw a horizontal line. Take that line and apply the Zig Zag effect from the Effects Menu – Distort & Transform (fig. A) and apply the configuration shown in the picture. After that, press – (minus) or select the Delete Anchor Point Tool and delete some of the points (fig. B) in order to get a single curve and shear it just like you previously did in step 2. You should have now a line like in fig. C.

Step 4 IMG004

Now rotate a copy of that line and place it over the first rectangle done in step 1 as shown in fig A, select both element and apply the Pathfinder – Divide operation to cut them, ungroup the results and delete the hole. Now copy the new shape (fig. B), place it behind the former one, add an intersecting line in the upper left corner, an intersecting rectangle in that same corner and an ellipse in the bottom right corner. Select all and Divide, delete unnecessary parts so that at the end you get the side shape of the briefcase (step 5).

Step 5


Duplicate the front side of the briefcase (step 3) and press E (Free Distort tool) like in step 1 to deform it from both bottom corners. Step 6 IMG006

Make a grid with the Rectangular Grid Tool and apply the settings shown in the picture. Rotate it a bit and apply a distortion (Object – Envelope Distort – Make with Warp or Alt+Shift+Ctrl+W). Use the arch distortion so that you get a set of curved lines as you can see in the picture. Finally, convert the grid from line to shapes with the Object – Expand Appearance command and cut them with the base shape.

Step 7 IMG007

Use the same procedure above to make the stripes for the right side of the briefcase. Note that this time we will not use a Warp Distort but a Free Distort because we need to simulate perspective.

Step 8


Prepare a decorative stripe under the lines of the front side by duplicating and cutting the shape of step 5. Apply a linear fill with whites and light grays as shown in the picture.

Step 9


With the Pen Tool draw a small black shape in the upper right corner and press U to pick the Mesh Tool and single click in the middle of the shape to make a color point. Select that center point with the Direct Selection Tool (key A) and color it with white. Set the transparency of that shape to Screen so that blacks become transparent and whites convert into a shine.

Step 10


Prepare a contour line for the division of the briefcase by using a copy of the side shape (steps 4 and 3), make it black as in fig. A and duplicate it, apply Object - Expand – Expand Lines to convert the lines into shapes and fill them with linear black and white gradient like in fig. B and set the opacity to Screen as in step 9.

Step 11


Make another set of shine lines (as in step 10, part B) for the front edges of the briefcase.

Step 12


Now use a copy of the shape from step 2 to apply a mesh gradient as in step 9. Note how many points you should click and which ones are white. Set the transparency to Screen.

Step 13 IMG013

Using the first curved line (step 3) several times to make the handle of the briefcase. From A to B in the picture, use a copy of the line and convert it to a shape. Note that in each step the weight of each line is different so that we can give the impression of volume. In fig. B we add a tiny rectangle to make the end side of the handle.

Step 14 IMG014

As in step 10, part B; add some extra shines to the upper and right front side of the briefcase. We are almost done.

Step 15 IMG015

To make the lock, prepare a simple shape out from a circle and a rounded rectangle, using the Divide command (step 4) and add some shines with the same procedure of steps 10 and 14.

Step 16 IMG016

This last part is also the easiest one. The front plaque can be made from a rounded rectangle with gradient fill as shown in the picture. Make the front part, the back part and add a shine to finish the plaque.


Work is love made visible.

Kahlil Gibran


5 Responses to “Illustrating a business briefcase in Windows 7 style”

  1. RichieNo Gravatar
    April 25th

    I cannot stop admiring your tutorials. Its been a long time since I saw some quality icon tutorials. Watching your tutorials, feels as though a new era in icon design has risen up. Just love your tutorials. Thanks a lot guys

  2. adminNo Gravatar
    April 27th

    wow, thanks for your kindly words, this week another tutorial will be released.

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