In today’s tutorial, we’re going to get down and funky and create our very own Boombox using some of Illustrator’s most basic tools and shapes.
So if you’re a true player, put on your party hat since things are about to get jamming.
That being said, let’s open up Illustrator, and get the party started.
1. Set Up a New Document
As always, the first thing that we’re going to do is create a new custom document (File > New or Control-N), which we will set up using the following settings:
- Number of Artboards: 1
- Width: 800 px
- Height: 600 px
- Units: Pixels
And from the Advanced tab:
- Color Mode: RGB
- Raster Effects: Screen (72 ppi)
- Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
Quick tip: most of the indicated settings can be triggered by setting the document’s Profile to Web; the only one that won’t be automatically set is the Size, which you will have to manually select.
2. Set Up the Layers
Once we’ve created our document, we can now prep our project by creating a set of individual layers in order to separate the different sections of our illustration.
So, assuming you know how to use the Layers panel, bring it up and create three layers, naming them as follows:
- note pattern
3. Set Up a Custom Grid
Since Illustrator lets us take advantage of its Grid system, we will set up a custom one using the lowest possible values, and use the Snap to Grid option whenever we’re not in Pixel Preview mode, in order to ensure that all our shapes are perfectly snapped to the Pixel Grid.
The settings that we’re interested in can be found under the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid preferences submenu, and should be adjusted as follows:
- Gridline every: 1 px
- Subdivisions: 1
Quick tip: now, I won’t go too much into details, since I’ve already written two separate pieces that explain how the Grid system works and how you can use various settings to adhere to a pixel-perfect workflow.
What I’m going to do is encourage you to read those, since they’ll probably answer all your questions and widen your technical skills when it comes to some of Illustrator’s more ambiguous tools and options.
4. Create the Background
The first thing that we’re going to be creating is the funky background, which, as you will see, will be a fairly easy task.
Make sure you’re on the first layer, and then using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a smaller
42 x 10 px shape (
#3e4249) with a 5 px Corner Radius and another significantly
larger 386 x 10 px (
using the same value for the corners. Vertically align the two, making sure to
leave an empty gap of 8 px between
Quick tip: when dealing with precise positioning, I always recommend you turn on the Pixel Preview mode (View > Pixel Preview) so that you can have full control over your shapes by using the underlying pixel grid that becomes visible once you turn it on.
Group the two lines that we created just a moment ago (Control-G), and then horizontal align them to the center of the Artboard, making sure to leave a gap of 168 px towards its bottom side.
Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create
a 324 x 324 px circle, which we will
#acd18c, and then horizontal center align it to the Artboard, positioning it over the two
lines, a few pixels towards the bottom.
Draw another set of three circles, one 284 x 284 px one, a smaller 244
x 244 px one, and an even smaller 204
x 204 px one, which we will color using black (
#000000) and overlay onto
the larger circle that we’ve created in the previous step by lowering their
opacity levels to just 10%.
Since we want to hide the lower sections of the circles that go beyond the two lines, we will create a 328 x 256 px rectangle, which we will position just above the lines, and then use as a Clipping Mask by selecting both it and the circles, and then right clicking > Make Clipping Mask.
Once you’ve masked the circles, select both them and the two lines and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, so that if you need to move or reposition the background in the future, you can do so without worrying that some shapes were left behind.
Since we’re now done with the background, we can lock its layer, and move on to the next one, where we’re going to start working on the little boombox itself.
5. Create the Boombox Base
So far we’ve quickly created the background. Now it’s time to get our flow on and create the center piece. Yup I’m talking about the boombox yo! Let's start with the base.
onto the second layer, and using the Rectangle
Tool (M) create a 216 x 6 px shape
which we will color using
#a0a5a8 and then give a thick 8 px outline (
#3e4249) by applying an Offset Path to it (select
> Object > Path > Offset Path).
Then simply select both the fill shape and its outline and position the two just above the background lines, making sure to horizontal center align them to the Artboard.
Quick tip: if you’ve never used Offset Paths before, you should definitely check out this tutorial on how to create line icons using offsets, which explains the process that can be applied to any project, not just icons.
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create
another 216 x 2 px shape, which we
will color using
#3e4249 since it will act as a subtle shadow, and then overlay
onto the top section of the dark grey piece that we’ve just created by lowering
its Opacity to 40%.
Add a 216 x 2 px horizontal
divider to the boombox’s base, which we will color using
#3e4249 and position
over the grey rectangle, aligning it towards its center.
Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and
create a small 2 x 2 px and larger 4 x 2 px shape positioned 2 px from one another. Color the shapes
using white (
#FFFFFF) and then make them act as a pair of highlights by setting
their Blending Modes to Overlay and lowering their Opacity levels to 40%.
Once you’re done, position the highlights towards the right section of the base, and group the two (Control-G) so that they won’t get separated by accident.
Create a pair of three 12 x 2 px rounded
rectangles with a 1 px Corner Radius,
which we will color using
#3e4249, group (Control-G)
and then position onto each side of the boombox’s base, making sure to align
them to the top section of the horizontal divider line and most importantly
that the inner sections fully overlap the 8
px thickness of the outline.
Since we’re pretty much done working on the base of the boombox, we can select all its composing shapes and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut so that we won’t move them by accident.
6. Create the Boombox's Body
Create the boombox’s main body by drawing a 232 x 120 px rectangle which we will color using a light grey (
and then give it a nice outline using an 8
px offset. Once you have both shapes, position them towards the upper
section of the base that we’ve just created, making sure that the two outlines
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create
the upper section of the boombox by drawing a 232 x 12 px shape (
#a0a5a8), which we will align towards the top
section of the grey body, separating it using a 232 x 8 px rectangle (
#3e4249) just underneath it as a divider line.
Add some subtle highlights to the upper section of the boombox, by
creating two 232 x 4 px rectangles,
which we will color using white (
#FFFFFF) and then adjust by setting their Blending Modes to Overlay and lowering the Opacity
level for the top most one to 40% and
setting it to 90% for the second
Start laying down details by creating a 212 x 4 px rounded rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will color using
#3e4249 and then
position onto the darker grey section of the boombox, making sure to align it
to its center.
Add two more detail lines by creating two narrower 14 x 4 px rounded rectangles (
#3e4249) using the same 2 px Corner Radius, and align one to
each side of the boombox’s outline.
Finish off the
upper section of the boombox, by creating a pair of vertical highlights, using
#FFFFFF) as the fill color, Overlay
for the Blending Mode and 40% for the Opacity.
Group (Control-G) and position the two highlights towards the right section of the main piece, making sure to align them to the other pair that we’ve created for the base section.
Create two 4
x 100 px rectangles (
#3e4249) and position one on each side of the lower
light grey section of the boombox, making sure to leave a 2 px gap between them and the thicker outline.
Using the Rectangle
Tool (M) create two 2 x 96 px shapes
#a0a5a8), which we will position between the boombox’s outline and the two vertical dividers that we’ve just created in
order to darken those areas.
Next, add four 4 x 4 px circles to each corner of the
center section of the boombox, which we will color using
#3e4249 since they’ll
act as little screws.
Position each circle so that you have a 2 px gap between them and the surrounding divider and outline.
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw
a couple of line segments (
#3e4249) on each side of the middle dividers, and add subtle highlights (color: white; Blending Mode: Overlay; Opacity: 60%) under each one of them.
Draw two 96 px tall vertical highlights, using
#FFFFFF) for the fill color, Overlay
for the Blending Mode, and 90% for the Opacity, and position them onto the center section of the boombox,
a few pixels towards the right.
Oh, and don’t forget to select them both and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.
7. Create the Speakers
Start working on
the left speaker unit, by creating a 60
x 60 px circle (
#c7c8c9) and giving it an 8 px thick outline (
#3e4249) using the offset path method.
Position the two towards shapes the boombox’s left side, leaving an 8 px empty space gap towards the left and bottom side of the speaker’s outline.
Quick tip: don’t forget to use the Pixel Preview mode (View > Pixel Preview) so that you can get that precise positioning and crispness that we want.
Next, create the actual cone by drawing a smaller 44 x 44 px circle (
#6e787c) and another even smaller 20 x 20 px one (
#3e4249) and positioning them over the previous shapes, making sure to align them to their center.
Create the little inner ring, by drawing a 32 x 32 px circle (
#3e4249) and then another smaller 28 x 28 px one (
#3e4249), which we will
then use to create a cutout from the larger one using Pathfinder’s Minus Front option.
Start adding details to the speaker unit by creating a 6 x 6 px circle (
#FFFFFFF) which we
will overlay onto the center piece of the cone by setting its Blending Mode to Overlay and lowering its Opacity
to 40%, positioning it a few
pixels towards the right upper corner.
Next, add an inner ring-like shadow onto the cone, by creating a copy
of it, and then adding a smaller 36 x
36 px circle, which we will then use to create the cutout. Change the color
of the resulting shape to
#3e4249, and then lower its Opacity to just 20% to
make it look an actual shadow.
Create another 36 x 36 px circle (
#FFFFFF) which we
will then adjust by removing its top anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and setting
its Blending Mode to Overlay while lowering its Opacity to just 30%.
Once we have our adjusted shape, make sure to position it underneath the cone’s ring and nose, so that it won’t overlap them.
Give the speaker some dimension by adding a top ring shadow and a bottom
highlight. To do this, first create a 60
x 60 px circle (
#FFFFFF) from which we will cut out a smaller 56 x 56 px one. Then, using a
rectangle, cut out the bottom half section, and create a copy of the resulting
shape which we will reflect horizontally (right
click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal) and position underneath
Adjust the top half ring by setting its color to
#3e4249 and lowering
its Opacity to 20%.
Then, select the bottom half highlight and change its Blending Mode to Overlay while lowering its Opacity to 30%.
Finish off the
left speaker unit by adding four 4 x 4
px circles (
#3e4249) onto the corners of the surface surrounding the cone.
Then, select all its composing elements and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.
Since we now have our left speaker unit, we need to add the little tweeter
cone. To do this, first grab the Ellipse
Tool (L) and create a 6 x 6 px circle
#6d6f70). Give the shape a 4 px outline
#3e4249) and a small reflection (color: white;
Blending Mode: Overlay; Opacity: 30%) and then position the two
towards the left upper corner of the speaker.
Select and group both the tweeter and speaker (Control-G) and create a copy of them (Control-C > Control-F) which we will then reflect vertically (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and position onto the right side of the boombox.
Quick tip: you can create a duplicate of any shape by selecting it and then dragging in a direction while holding down the Alt key (which creates the copy) and the Shift key (which lets you drag in a straight line).
8. Add the Buttons and Dials
At this point, we can start working on the front of the boombox by
adding the little function buttons. First, select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 42 x 12 px shape (
#3e4249) which we will position onto the center
section of the unit, about 4 px from
its bottom outline.
Zoom in on the shape that we’ve just created, and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create six 4 x 4 px squares (
#a0a5a8), which we
will position 2 px from one
another and then center onto the larger underlying rectangle.
Color the first, third, and fifth squares using
#7a7f82, and then give
each button a 4 x 2 px highlight (color: white; Blending Mode: Overlay; Opacity:
40%). When you’re done, select all the composing elements and group them
using the Control-G keyboard
Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create
a 50 x 2 px shape (
#3e4249) with a 1 px Corner Radius and position it just
above the buttons, leaving a 2 px gap
Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and
create a 34 x 20 px shape (
give it a 4 px outline (
then position the two above the line that we’ve just created, leaving the same 2 px gap between them.
Add a 34 x 2 px highlight (color: white; Blending Mode: Overlay; Opacity:
40%) towards the top side of the purple rectangle, and another 34 x 2 px shadow (color:
#3e4249; Opacity: 40%)
towards its bottom.
Draw two diagonal highlights (color: white; Blending Mode: Overlay; Opacity: 40%) using the Pen Tool (P), one thinner and one thicker, and position them towards the center of the purple rectangle.
Quick tip: you can get perfect 45 while drawing with the Pen Tool (P) if you hold down the Shift key.
Using the Rectangle Tool (M) draw
two 2 x 20 px vertical dividers (
which you will position on each side of the purple rectangle, leaving a 2 px gap between them and the thicker
outline. Then add another 26 x 2 px shape
#3e4249) towards the bottom side, leaving that same 2 px empty gap.
Finish off the
cassette holder by adding the two wheels that spin the band and a 6 x 4 px rounded rectangle with a 1 px Corner Radius (
#3e4249) to give it
Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all its composing elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.
Move a few pixels towards the top, and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create an 84
x 16 px shape (
#3e4249) which we will position above the cassette holder, about 8 px from its top side.
Since the shape now overlaps the speakers, we will have to select them and
bring them to the front by right clicking
> Arrange > Bring To Front.
Add a 42 x 8 px rectangle (
on top of the shape that we’ve previously created, making sure to position it
towards its center.
Since this red section will act as a radio tuner, add a couple of highlights using the same values that we’ve used for the cassette holder.
Add a couple of 2 px thick lines (ten more exactly)
with two variable heights (five with 4
px, and the others with 2 px),
which you will have to position 2 px from
one another and color using the same value used for the outlines (
Also, don’t forget to group all of the tuner’s components so they won’t get misplaced (Control-G).
For this next step, I’m going to let you get creative and create the rest of the boombox’s details on your own, since they’re pretty easy to create.
Take your time, and depending on whether you want the exact same look or something unique, use the reference image to make your way and get it done.
Assuming you’ve aced the previous step, let’s move on up to the top section of the boombox, and start working on the little buttons.
First, create a 4 x 6 px rectangle (
#eaeaea) and give
it a 4 px thick outline (
We will use these two shapes to create two more copies (buttons) towards their
right side positioned 2 px from
one another. For the fourth button, we will just create a 12 x 12 px square (
#3e4249) which will make it look as if it has been
pressed. For the fifth and last button we’ll want to create a wider 18 x 6 px rectangle (
will use the same 4 px thick
Once you have all five buttons, positions them towards the center of the boombox, making sure to send them to the back (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).
Give the buttons a little depth, by adding a small shadow to all but the fourth one.
At this point, I would also recommend that you individually group (Control-G) each button and then select and group them all as a whole.
Move towards the left side of the boombox, and
using the Rectangle Tool (M) create
a 4 x 18 px shape, which we will
#e5d37a, give an 8 px outline
#3e4249) and then position towards the top left side, leaving a gap of 38 px between it and the larger
Add a 2 x 12 px rectangle (
towards the left side of the yellow dial’s
outline, a 2 x 18 px shadow (color:
#3e4249; Opacity: 40%) where it meets the outline of the boombox, and a 4 x 4 px square (
#3e4249) towards its
top, which will act as gain indicator.
Once you’re done, group all the dial’s elements together (Control-G) and create a copy for the right side of the boombox.
Finish off the boombox by adding the top handle, and then group all of its elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.
Since at this point we’ve finished working on the main sections of our illustration, we can now move on to the final part, where we’re going to be adding the little musical note pattern.
9. Create the Musical Note Pattern
Now, what would a boombox be without a little sound to make it pop? In the following moments we’re going to wrap things up by creating a nice little pattern that will bring our illustration to life.
Move on to the third and last layer, and using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 10
x 8 px shape (
#3e4249) which will act as the note head (1), to which we’re
going to add a 2 x 14 px rectangle (
towards its right side (the note stem) (2). Add another small diagonal rectangle
#3e4249) to its top (the flag) (3) and then group all three shapes together (Control-G).
Using the same note head and stem, create a double note.
Grab the musical notes that we’ve just created and start adding them around the boombox. Take your time, and play around with them until you get an interesting pattern that you can use.
Color the notes
that go outside the green background using a light grey (
#e5e5e5) to give
the composition a little twist.
Once you’re done, select and group them (Control-G) so they’ll stick together.
It’s a Wrap!
There you have it: a good old boombox that you can use in any new project to make your work stand out. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and managed to learn something new and useful along the way.
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