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How to Create an Alarm Clock Icon

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This post is part of a series called Icon Design.
How to Create an Hourglass Icon in About an Hour
Make a Headphones Icon Using Adobe Illustrator

With simple shapes and gradients, this easy tutorial will show you how to create an alarm clock icon. We'll be using Illustrator CS4 for this tutorial, but those of you with older version should be able to follow along as well. Let's jump into this tutorial, which beginning illustrators will find especially useful!

Final Image

Below is the final icon we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

alarm_clock_final

Video Tutorial

Our editor Sean Hodge has created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.

Step 1

Create a new document and use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 280 px by 280 px ellipse.

alarm_clock_01

Step 2

From the Gradient panel, fill the ellipse with a Linear Gradient with no stroke. Change the first Color Stop in the gradient to a gray color and the second Color Stop to a dark gray color. With the Gradient Tool (G), click at the top of the ellipse and drag towards the bottom, making the gray color at the top of the ellipse.

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Step 3

Select your ellipse and choose Object > Path > Offset, and in the Offset dialog, change the Offset to -5 px.

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Step 4

Select the offset ellipse and add a four Color Stops to the linear gradient in the Gradient panel. To do this, click in-between the two Color Stops, right below the Gradient Slider. Change the first Color Stop to white, the second to a light gray, the third to a dark gray, the fourth to a gray, and the last to a dark gray that is lighter that the third dark gray.

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Step 5

With the four Color Stop ellipse still selected, choose Object > Path > Offset and in the Offset dialog, change the Offset to -15 px.

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Step 6

Fill the new ellipse with a two Color Stop linear gradient with the first stop white, and the second gray.

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Step 7

Select the latest ellipse and choose Object > Path > Offset and in the Offset dialog, change the Offset to -5 px. Change the first Color Stop in the gradient to a dark gray and the second to an even darker gray.

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Step 8

Again, select the latest ellipse and choose Object > Path > Offset and in the Offset dialog, change the Offset to -5 px. Change the fill to a Radial Gradient from the gradient panel, and make the first Color Stop white and the second stop a gray color. Next, in the Location field in the Gradient panel, change the value to 87%.

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Step 9

With the Line Segment Tool, create a 15 px tall line in the middle and towards the top of the last offset ellipse. From the Stroke panel, click the Round Cap icon to make the ends of the line round. With the Selection Tool (V), hold down Shift + Alt, and drag down a copy of the line to the bottom half of the ellipse. Select both lines and Group them (Command + G).

alarm_clock_09

Step 10

Select the grouped lines and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform, to bring up the Transform Effect dialog. In the dialog change the number of Copies to 5, change the Rotate Angle to 30 and press OK. Next, chose Object > Expand Appearance.

alarm_clock_10

Step 11

First, change the lines Stroke color to a light gray and then chose Object > UnGroup (Command + Shift + G). Next, select the top-middle line (it will also select the bottom-middle line) and the left-middle line (it will also select the right-middle line) and delete them.

alarm_clock_11

Step 12

With the Text Tool, create four separate text boxes with the numbers 12, 3, 6, 9 and place them in their respective spots on the clock where the lines used to be. I used Myriad Pro Black for my font, but you can use whatever font you want.

alarm_clock_12

Step 13

Select the smallest ellipse from a couple of steps and choose Object > Path > Offset and in the Offset dialog, change the Offset to -105 px.

alarm_clock_13

Step 14

At this point, I like to turn on the Smart Guides by choosing View > Smart Guides. With Smart Guides on, it is easier to draw lines for the clock hands that start at the center on the latest offset ellipse. Once the Smart Guides are turned on, draw the first clock hand starting at the center of the smallest ellipse. Next, change the stroke Weight to 7 pt and press the Round Cap icon in the Stroke panel. With the line still selected, send it behind the small ellipse by choosing Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

alarm_clock_14

Step 15

Draw another line that is shorter than the minute hand, making an hour hand. Change the Stroke weight to 12 pt and change the stroke color to a gray color. Next, send it behind the small ellipse by choosing Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

alarm_clock_15

Step 16

Create one more line, but this time make the stroke color red, change the stroke weight to 3 pt and make the anchor point closest to the small ellipse, and have it stick out a little bit. Send the new line behind both the previous line and the small ellipse.

alarm_clock_16

Step 17

Select all three lines, Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + B). With the copied lines still selected, go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Next with your arrow keys, move the outlined copies down and change the color to a light gray - creating a simple drop shadow.

alarm_clock_17

Step 18

Select the white ellipse in the clock, Copy (Command + C), and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, draw an oblong ellipse over the whole clock and place the bottom part of the new ellipse in the center of the clock. Select the oblong ellipse and the copied white ellipse and press the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel.

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Step 19

Change the fill of the new shape to a linear gradient from the Gradient panel and adjust the gradient from bottom to top. Next, set the shape to Multiply from the Transparency panel.

alarm_clock_19

Step 20

Now that the clock is done, we can look at the balls the clock stands on. First create an ellipse that is 55 px by 55 px. Fill the ellipse with a radial gradient. Add two Color Stops to the radial gradient making a total of four Color Stop. Change the first stop to white, the second to gray, the third to a darker gray, and the fourth to the same gray color as the second one. With the Gradient Tool, click close to the top-left side of the ellipse and drag down at a 45 degree angle.

alarm_clock_20

Step 21

Place the new ellipse so it aligns with the left and bottom sides of the clock. Next choose Option > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key), to place the ellipse behind the clock.

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Step 22

Select the small ellipse and Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, select the largest ellipse in the clock, hold down Shift + Alt, and drag a copy slightly down and to the left. Select both copies and press the Intersect button in the Pathfinder panel. Fill the new shape with a gray color and set it to Multiply from the Transparency panel. Choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key) and then chose Option > Arrange Send Forward, to place the shadow shape behind all the clock shapes, but in front of the small ellipse.

alarm_clock_22

Step 23

Select the small ball and shadow, Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, go to Object > Transform > Reflect and choose Vertical from the Reflect dialog. Move the copy over to the right side of the clock.

alarm_clock_23

Step 24

With the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle that is 10 px wide by 50 px tall. Fill the rectangle with a four Color Stop linear gradient with the first stop a light gray, the second a gray color, the third a dark gray, and the fourth, the same gray as the second.

alarm_clock_24

Step 25

Create another rectangle over the top of the first one that is 15 px wide by 20 px tall. Next, go Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and in the Round Corners dialog, change the Radius to 10 px. Fill it with the same four Color Stop gradient as the previous rectangle, and adjust the gradient with the Gradient Tool from top to bottom.

alarm_clock_25

Step 26

Place the second rectangle over the top-middle part of the first rectangle. Select both rectangles and place them over the top-middle part of the clock. With the two rectangles still selected, choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key).

alarm_clock_26

Step 27

Create a rectangle that is 110 px wide by 80 px tall. Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and change the Radius to 30 px. Expand the appearance of the rectangle by going to Object > Expand Appearance. Create another rectangle over the current one, a little over halfway down the current one. Select both rectangles and press the Minus Front icon from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the new shape with the same linear gradient as the previous rectangles and adjust the gradient from top to bottom.

alarm_clock_27

Step 28

Copy (Command + C) the new bell shape and Paste in Front (Command + F). With the Selection Tool (V), squish the copy horizontally smaller than the original shape. Leave more room on the right side of the bell as the left to get some variance in width. Copy (Command + C) the squished bell shape, Paste in Front (Command + F), and squish this copy the same as you did the previous shape. Select both shapes and press the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel. Change the fill of the new shape to white and change the Opacity to 15% from the Transparency panel.

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Step 29

Select the main bell shape and again, Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). Squish the new copy down horizontal to about one sixteenth the original size. Fill it with a light gray and set it to Multiply from the Transparency panel.

alarm_clock_29

Step 30

Create an ellipse that is 20 px by 20 px, fill it with the same gradient as the bell shape, and adjust the gradient from top to bottom. Next, Place the ellipse behind the top-middle part of the bell shape.

alarm_clock_30

Step 31

Create a rectangle that is 8 px wide by 45 px tall, fill it with the same linear gradient as the previous steps, adjust the gradient, and place it behind the bottom middle part of the bell shape.

alarm_clock_31

Step 32

Select all the bell shapes and rotate 30 degree from the Transform panel. Next place the bell shapes behind the clock towards the top-left side.

alarm_clock_32

Step 33

Copy (Command + C) the bell shapes, Paste in Front (Command + F), chose Object > Transform > Reflect, and chose Vertical from the Reflect dialog. Move the copied shape to the opposite side of the clock.

alarm_clock_33

Step 34

Almost done, but let's add some finishing touches. Create an ellipse that is 200 px by 200 px. Fill the ellipse with a radial gradient with the first Color Stop a dark gray and the second stop white. Set the ellipse to Multiply from the Transparency panel. Next, squish the ellipse vertically to half it's original size and place below the alarm clock creating a drop shadow.

alarm_clock_34

Step 35

Copy (Command + C) the drop shadow and Paste in Front (Command + F). Scale down the copy and place it under the small ball on the left. Repeat this again for a drop shadow on the right.

alarm_clock_35

Step 36

Create a rectangle the size of your document, fill it with a radial gradient with the first Color Stop white and the second a light gray. All Done!

alarm_clock_36

Final Image

That was easy wasn't it? By just using some basic shapes and gradients, it is easy to create great icons. Below is the final image again.

alarm_clock_final

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