1. Preparing the Canvas
Make a new file in Photoshop (File > New). Set its size to 500 pixels × 500 pixels.
Click the Add Adjustment Layer icon in the lower part of the Layers panel. Select Solid Color.
Select light red (
#db687b) for the color.
Double-click the Solid Color layer and then activate Pattern Overlay. Set its mode to Multiply with low Opacity, 20%.
Change its layer name to background. I suggest renaming each layer to help you recognize the layer’s function.
2. Designing the Base
First, we want to build the icon’s base. Set the foreground color to #3ab2cb. Activate the Rounded Rectangle Tool, and set its Radius to 30 px. Shift-click and drag to draw a rounded rectangle.
Double-click the shape and activate Gradient Overlay. Select white to black gradient. Reduce Opacity with Blend Mode Overlay.
Make a new layer and place it above the icon base. Control-click the base layer to make a new selection based on its shape. Right-click and select Stroke. In the Stroke dialog box, select a darker blue color (#1d6b80) with Width 2 px.
Add a layer mask to the stroke layer, and fill it with black. Paint its lower half with white to reveal the stroke.
Repeat the previous shape, and add another stroke line on a new layer. This time, use a lighter blue color with Width 1 px.
Add a layer mask and then fill it with black to hide the stroke. Paint the upper part to reveal some of the stroke line. The combination of light stroke on top and dark stroke on the bottom will add a 3D effect to the base.
3. Drawing the Shape
Draw a circular shape and then add a smaller circular shape inside it with path mode Subtract Front Shape. We should now have a ring shape. For its color, set it to white (#e4ffff).
Add a triangle path on the upper part of the ring shape. Set its mode to Combine Shapes.
Add another triangle on its lower part.
Duplicate the two triangles. Rotate them 90°.
We now have a triangle pointing in four directions.
Repeat the process. This time add smaller triangles. Rotate them 45°.
Double-click the layer shape and then add Gradient Overlay and Drop Shadow. See the following screenshot for its settings.
Add a smaller ring shape on top of the previous shape. Set its color to #eaeded.
Add a half triangle shape covering half of the point in the compass shape.
Continue adding another half triangle covering the other points. This shape will create the illusion that the compass shape is extruded, not flat.
Double-click the shape and choose Gradient Overlay.
For the gradient, set its Style to Linear with color transition from gray (#d7d7d7) to white (#ffffff).
Add a new layer, and make sure it is placed above all the other layers. Control-click the previous shape we just made. We will have a new selection based on its shape. Right-click and select Stroke. Set Width to 1 px, Location: Inside, with color #eeefef.
This will give you a thin stroke line along the shape.
Add a layer mask to the layer shape and fill it with black. Paint some parts of the stroke line with white to reveal them.
Let’s make the shape appear realistic by adding shadow underneath it. Add a new layer and place it under the compass shape. Control-click the compass shape layer to make a new selection based on its shape. Click Edit > Fill. Set Content to Black and then click OK to fill the selection with black.
Remove the selection using Control-D. Click Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Set its Angle to -45°.
Soften the shadow using a Gaussian Blur filter. Click Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
For now, this is not the shadow we want. To fix this, add a layer mask to the layer and then paint the unneeded shadow on the upper left side of the shadow. We only need shadow on the right side of the shape. See the image below for reference. Make sure you also reduce its layer Opacity to make the shadow subtle.
Let’s add an arrow on the center of the compass shape. Start by adding a rectangle and then apply a transformation (Control-T). First, rotate it 45°. Second, squeeze its corner until we have an arrow shape. Third, rotate it again.
Double-click the arrow shape and then apply Inner Glow, Gradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow with the following settings.
We want the arrow color to be half white and half red. To do this, simply duplicate the shape (Control-J) and then remove its Layer Styles. Set it to Clipping Mask. Click its bottom point with the Pen Tool to delete it.
Add a small circle on the center of the arrow. Double-click it and then apply Inner Glow, Gradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow.
4. Add Shadow
Add a new layer and place it between the compass shape and its arrow. Draw a polygonal selection as seen below using the Polygonal Tool and then fill it with black. Reduce the layer’s Opacity to 20%. Control-click the icon base and add a layer mask. Now, the shadow can only be seen on the icon’s base.
To enhance the illusion that the compass shape is extruded, we want to add more shadow on it. Make a new layer between the compass shape and its arrow. Paint black on the arrow shadow that touches the compass shape.
Add another layer and then another subtle shadow behind the arrow. Activate the Brush Tool with 0% Hardness and set its Opacity to 5%. Paint shadow behind the arrow.
Add a new layer. This time add highlight to the icon. Paint white on the icon’s corner. Reduce its layer Opacity.
Repeat this step, painting highlight on other parts of the icon until it doesn’t appear too flat.
Now, let’s add shadow to the icon’s base. Make a new layer underneath the base layer. Control-click the base layer, and fill the selection with black.
Hit Control-D to remove the selection. Soften the shadow by applying Gaussian Blur.
You can duplicate the shadow by clicking Control-J if you are not satisfied with the result and want darker shadow. If you find it too dark, you can tone it down by reducing its Opacity.
5. Final Result
And this is our final result. I hope you enjoy the tutorial and now understand the technique of creating a flat icon with a long shadow.