Create a simple button set

If you are not so good at drawing, either freehand or on a computer, you have probably used Google search or another tool to find your icons in the past.  There is another way however.

Firstly, if you haven’t already done so, download inkscape.

Then decide what icons you need. To get the idea, we are going to create these three icons… They are very simple, but I think you will agree, effective


Gear box (10 steps)

You may not be aware of it, but inkscape has the capability to render images by itself.  This is extremely useful!!!

  1. Create a new document by pressing Ctrl+N (if you don’t already have a new document open)
  2. Click on Extensions, Render and then Gear.
  3. Choose the number of teeth, in this case 8
  4. I’ve put a circular pitch and pressure angle of 10, but you can edit this if you want.  As the circular pitch increases, so does the size of the gear created.  The pressure angle makes the gear more or less pointy.
  5. Inkscape should then create automatically a gear for you
  6. Press Ctrl+G to ungroup the gear
  7. Then click on the circle tool and draw a circle in the centre of the newly created gear, holding down the Ctrl key as you draw the circle to ensure it is perfectly round.
  8. Position the circle exactly in the centre of the gear (you can use the Align and distribute panel to help with this by clicking on Shift+Ctrl+A)
  9. Change the fill of the gear to blue and the fill of the circle to white and remove the stroke of both
  10. Then select both by clicking on them and holding down the shift key and then click on Path and Difference or hold down Ctrl+-.  This will create a transparent centre to the gear.

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I have made mine more rounded by deleting the nodes in the outer circle of the gear (the square blue nodes shown below).  To do this, double click the shape so the nodes can be seen and then one by one, click on the nodes shown while holding down the shift key and then when all are selected, press the delete key.  You can also alter the trajectory of the modes, by adjusting the node handles (red circles when clicked or hovered over)

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House (17 steps)

The house is created by adding and subtracting the basic shapes together.

  1. First draw a square on the page (using the square tool in the same way that you created a circle for the gear
  2. Change the fill to blue and remove the stroke
  3. Add rounded corners, by double clicking the square and then changing the Rx and Ry values for the square to 1
  4. To make the roof, create another blue square.  Do not give it rounded corners.  If necessary, adjusy the Rx and Ry values to 0
  5. Click on Ctrl+Shift+M to open the transform panel and then rotate the rectangle 45 degrees
  6. Position the new diamond on top of the square to make the roof, adjusting the size until they match widths
  7. Then click on both objects and press Ctrl++ to merge the two together
  8. Double click the house to remove the nodes creating the gap btween the rounded rectangle and the roof
  9. Create a second smaller white rectangle to create the door and change its Rx and Ry values to 1
  10. Click on both objects and click on Path and Difference or hold down Ctrl+-.  This will make the door transparent
  11. You now have the basic house
  12. Create a duplicate of the house and with the Ctrl key held down increase its size so that it is slightly larger than the first
  13. Create a duplicate of your duplicate, and colour it white
  14. Position it slightly below the first duplicate
  15. Select the two duplicates and click on Path and Difference or hold down Ctrl+-.  This will create the roof
  16. To create the chimney create a small rectangle and a duplicate of the roof.  Subtract the roof from the rectangle
  17. Position all of the items where you want them (house, roof and chimney) and then press Ctrl++ to merge them together

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This is done using the trace bitmap function.  When using simple shapes just won’t work, then we cheat!

  1. Google the word telephone using google image. Find an image that is simple that you want to use.  Search tems like telephone or telephone icon etc…
  2. Import the picture into inkscape by clicking Ctrl+I and choosing the image you’ve downloaded
  3. Then with the image selected click on Shift+Alt+B
  4. Adjust the mode.  In this case I have chosen multiple scans, colours 2 scans and then pressed the OK button
  5. You should now have an inkscape object on top of the original image
  6. Move the inkscape object and delete the old image
  7. Press Ctrl+G to ungroup the 2 scans and then click on Path and Difference or hold down Ctrl+-.  This will create the basic telephone image, which you can colour blue and edit using the nodes and node handles, until you have the image you want


All that remains is to create the background buttons

Button (5 steps)

Depending on your style, you can choose to use round or square buttons, but they and the icons should all be the same size.  I’m going to show you how to create square ones.

  1. Create a rounded rectangle
  2. Open the fill and stroke panel and choose a linear gradient
  3. Adjust the gradient as you want it, I have chosen white to grey with a diagonal fill.
  4. Duplicate the rectangle and position it behind the first
  5. Change the fill to dark grey and add a 3pt blur to the rectangle


Join them together (3 steps)

  1. Duplicate the buttons, one for each icon
  2. Position the icons above the buttons
  3. Use the align pane to position each icon in the centre of a button


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