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How to Create a Unique USB Sign in Button in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following steps you will learn how to turn simple USB stick illustration into a nice sign in button. It's another one of those tutorials that focuses a lot on the Appearance panel. We'll start with a simple rectangle, the Rounded Corners effect and some simple Pathfinder and Transform options. Once we get the stating shapes we'll move inside the Appearance panel where we'll use a bunch fills and strokes along with a lot of effects and some blending techniques. For the final touches we'll use a simple piece of text and some basic vector shape building techniques along with some new effects.


1. Create a New Document & Setup a Grid

Hit Command + N to create a New document. Enter 600 in the width box and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before your click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For this tutorial you'll need a grid every 1px. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.


2. Create a Rounded Rectangle

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 146 by 49px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 24.5px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. The white number from the gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.


3. Slit the Button in Two

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a 65px, vertical line and place it as shown in the first image. Select this new path along with the rounded rectangle made in the previous step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Divide button. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and hit SHIFT+CTRL+G to Ungroup it. Move to the Layers panel and you will find two simple shapes. Double click on the bottom one and name it "leftPiece" then double click on the other shape and name it "rightPiece".


4. Move the Right Section

Focus on the Layers panel, select "rightPiece" and go to Object > Transform > Move. Enter 43 in the Position-Horizontal box and 0 in the Position-Vertical box then click OK.


5. Add Details via the Appearance Panel

Step 1

Select "leftPiece", focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow). Select this new fill, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel and use the linear gradient shown in the following image. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, select the top fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the top window (make sure that you check the bottom reference point) , click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window (make sure that you check the top reference point) and click OK.

Step 2

Select "leftPiece", focus on the Appearance panel, add a third fill and drag it between the existing fills. Make sure that this new fill is selected, set its fill color at R=175, G=175, B=175 and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image (make sure that you check the bottom reference point) and click OK.

Step 3

Select "leftPiece", add a fourth fill and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK.

Step 4

Select "leftPiece", add a fifth fill and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 5

Make sure that "leftPiece" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the fill added in the previous step and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the first window, click OK then add the other three Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

Step 6

Select "leftPiece", add a sixth fill and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, lower its Opacity to 50%, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 7px radius and click OK. The yellow zero from the gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.


6. Apply to the Right Section

Next, you need to copy the properties used for "leftPiece" and paste them onto "rightPiece". You can easily do it using the target icon. Move to the Layers panel, focus on the right side and you'll notice that every shape comes with a little grey circle, that's a target icon. Hold Alt, click on the target icon that stands for "leftPiece" and simply drag onto the target icon that stands for "rightSide". In the end your "rightPiece" should look like in the first image. Select it and move to the Appearance panel. Focus on the two fills highlighted in the second image and edit those linear gradients as shown below.


7. Add Edge Details

Step 1

Focus on the right side of "leftPiece". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 49px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown in the first image and place it as shown below. Make a Copy of this thin rectangle (Control + C > Control + F), select it, move it 1px to the left and replace the linear gradient used for the fill with the one shown in the second image.

Step 2

Keep focusing on the right side of "leftPiece". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 4px shape, fill it with R=155, G=155, B=155 and place it as shown below. Make a Copy of this small rectangle (Control + C > Control + F), select it, move it 1px to the left and replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the second image.

Step 3

Focus on the left side of "rightPiece". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 49px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown in the first image and place it as shown below. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 4px shape, fill it with R=155, G=155, B=155 and place it as shown in the second image.


8. Add the Text to Your Button

Step 1

Using the Type Tool (T), add the "Sing in" piece of text, set its color at R=210, G=210, B=210 and place it as shown in the first image. Use the "Utsaah" font, set the style at Bold and the size at 22pt. Make sure that your piece of text is still selected and hit Shift + Control + O (or go to Type > Create Outlines). Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8 or Object > Compound Path > Make).

Step 2

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Select the compound path made in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and hit the down arrow from your keyboard to move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes, turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8) and fill it with R=165, G=165, B=165.

Step 3

Select the compound path made in the fifteenth step, focus on the Appearance panel and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel and add a 0.5 Stroke Weight. Select it, set the color at R=196, G=196, B=196 and align it to inside.


9. Add a Lock Icon to the Button

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 18 by 13px shape, fill it with R=210, G=210, B=210 and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 by 12px shape and place it as shown in the second image. Fill it with none, but add a 2.5pt stroke, set its color at R=210, G=210, B=210 then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px radius, click OK and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Select the resulting path along with the other shape made in this step and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Step 2

Keep focusing on the shape made in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 by 5px shape, fill it with a random color and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape along with the shape made in the previous step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Grab the resulting shape and place it as shown in the third image.

Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes, turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8) and fill it with R=165, G=165, B=165. Reselect the shape made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel and add a 1.5 Stroke Weight. Select it, set the color at R=196, G=196, B=196 and align it to inside.


10. Create the USB Detailing

Step 1

Focus on the right side of "leftPiece". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 by 29px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 4px radius and click OK. Send this new shape to back (Shift + Control + [ ), make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill for this shape and select it. Use the linear gradient shown in the second image then lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply. Move to the Layers panel and name this new shape "stickPiece".

Step 2

Make sure that "stickPiece" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the bottom fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Add a third fill for "stickPiece" and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Select this new fill, add the linear gradient shown below and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 3

Select "stickPiece", focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that no fill or stroke is selected and add the five Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 6px shape and fill it with R=90, G=90, B=90. Place this new shape as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1.5px radius, click OK and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt stroke, set its color at R=60, G=60, B=60 and align it to inside. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, make sure that no fill or stroke is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the first image, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the second image and click OK.


11. How to Recolor Your USB Button

Step 1

Select "leftSide", make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) and bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ). Select this copy, focus on the Appearance panel and simply remove the bottom fill and the three Drop Shadow effects highlighted in the second image. Once you've done it go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Step 2

Select the group resulted from the previous step and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black.

Step 3

Move to "rightSide" and repeat the techniques mentioned in the last two steps.

Step 4

Select the two black shapes made in the last three steps and turn them into a Compound Path (Control + 8). Select it and simply change its Blending Mode to Overlay. This would be helpful if you're looking to add a bit of darkness to your button. Finally, you can use this compound path to easily recolor your entire button. Simply replace the black used for the fill with the color that you prefer. Try different Blending Modes. For instance a R=39, G=170, B=225 fill color with the Blending Mode set at Color Burn look pretty good (image #3). You should also try to combine the Blending Modes as shown in the final image. Feel free to try different combinations.


Congratulations, You're Finished!

Now your work is done. Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

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