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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Icon Design
Design

How to Create a DJ Themed Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today’s tutorial we’re going to get our groove on by creating a small DJ icon set, which I thought would be a nice change of pace from the themes that we’ve covered lately.

We’re going to rely mostly on the tools that we would normally use on a daily basis, so expect to hammer that Rectangle and Ellipse Tool a lot, since most of the icons are composed out of basic geometric shapes.

So without wasting any more time, let’s get the party started.

Also, you can always expand the pack by checking out Envato Market, where you’ll find tons of DJ-inspired icons ready to be picked.

1. How to Set Up a New Document

Assuming you already have Illustrator up and running, let’s kick off the project by going to File > New (or Control-N) and setting up our document as follows: 

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
setting up a new document

2. How to Set Up a Custom Grid

Since we’re going to be creating the icons using a pixel-perfect workflow, we’ll want to set up a nice little custom Grid so that we can have full control over our shapes.

Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust the following settings:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more about grids by reading this in-depth piece on how Illustrator’s Grid System works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter Pixel Preview mode.

Now, if you’re new to the whole “pixel-perfect workflow”, I strongly recommend you go through my how to create pixel-perfect artwork tutorial, which will help you widen your technical skills in no time.

3. How to Set Up the Layers

With the New Document created, it would be a good idea to structure our project using a couple of layers, since this way we can maintain a steady workflow by focusing on one icon at a time.

That being said, bring up the Layers panel, and create a total of four layers, which we will rename as follows:

  • layer 1: reference grids
  • layer 2: cdj
  • layer 3: headphones
  • layer 4: mpc
setting up the layers

4. How to Create the Reference Grids

The Reference Grids (or Base Grids) are a set of precisely delimited reference surfaces, which allow us to build our icons by focusing on size and consistency.

Usually, the size of the grids determines the size of the actual icons, and they should always be the first decision you make on you start a new project, since you’ll always want to start from the smallest possible size and build on that.

Now, in our case, we’re going to be creating the icon pack using just one size, more exactly 128 x 128 px, which is a fairly large one.

Step 1

Start by locking all but the reference grid layer, and then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 128 x 128 px orange (#F15A24) square, which will help define the overall size of our icons.

creating the main shape for the reference grid

Step 2

Add a smaller 120 x 120 px one (#FFFFFF) which will act as our active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 4 px padding.

creating the main shape for the active drawing area

Step 3

Group the two squares composing the reference grid using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then create two copies at a distance of 40 px from one another, making sure to align them to the center of the Artboard.

Once you’re done, lock the current layer and move on to the next one where we’ll start working on our first icon.

creating and positioning all three reference grids

5. How to Create the CDJ

We’re going to kick off the project by creating the CDJ, which is an essential tool that most DJs use, so make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the second one) and then zoom in on the first reference grid and let’s get started.

Step 1

Create the main shape of device’s body, using a 96 x 108 px rectangle which we will color using #BFB6B6, and then position onto lower section of the underlying grid, leaving a 4 px gap for the outline.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cdjs body

Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created an outline using the Offset Path method by selecting it and then going to Object > Path > Offset Path and entering 4 px into the Offset value field.

adding the outline to the cdjs body

Step 3

Change the fill color of the outline that we’ve just created to #494343 so that it will stand out from the fill shape.

adjusting the color of the cdjs main outline

Step 4

Create the upper section of the CDJ by adding a 96 x 36 px rectangle (#787171) to its top side, aligning it to the edge of the underlying fill shape.

adding the darker section to the cdjs upper body

Step 5

Separate the upper section of the device from its bottom one by adding a 96 x 4 px rectangle right underneath it, coloring it using #494343.

adding the horizontal divider to the upper section of the cdjs body

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 80 x 4 px shape which we will color using #494343 and then position in the center of the empty space formed by the device’s outline and the active drawing area’s top edge.

creating and positioning the outline section onto the top of the cdjs body

Step 7

Add a 40 x 4 px rectangle (#494343) underneath the top section’s horizontal divider line, making sure to center the smaller shape to the larger one using the Align panel’s Horizontal Align Center option.

creating and positioning the top insertion onto the cdjs body

Step 8

With the Rectangle Tool (M) still selected, add an even smaller 32 x 4 px rectangle (#494343) to the bottom of the device, centering it to the underlying shape.

Once you’ve added it, select all the shapes that we’ve built so far and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

creating and positioning the bottom insertion onto the cdjs body

Step 9

Since we’re pretty much done working on the CDJ’s body, we can now focus on adding details to it. We’ll start by creating the little display using a 40 x 20 px rectangle (#615A5A) with a 4 px thick outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and then position in the center of the device’s upper section.

creating and positioning the cdjs display

Step 10

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create the little sound waves using eight 2 x 16 px tall rectangles (#F97762) positioned 2 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and position onto the display, leaving a 2 px gap from its left edge.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs sound bars

Step 11

Double click on the sound waves that we’ve just created to isolate them, and then adjust some of their Heights as follows:

  • first bar: 12 px
  • second bar: 16 px
  • third bar: 12 px
  • fourth bar: 8 px
  • fifth bar: 4 px
  • sixth bar: 12 px
  • seventh bar: 8 px
  • eighth bar: 12 px

Once you’re done, don’t forget to exit Isolation Mode by pressing Escape.

adjusting the height of the cdjs sound bars

Step 12

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create two 4 x 4 px squares (#494343) which we will vertically stack at a distance 4 px from one another, positioning them in the center of the empty space formed by the sound waves and the right edge of the display.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs digital up and down buttons

Step 13

Turn the two squares into an “up” and “down” arrow by adding a new Anchor Point towards the first one’s top and the second one’s bottom, using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and removing the corner ones afterwards using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

Once you’re done, group them (Control-G) and then do the same for all of the display’s composing shapes.

turning the two arrows into the cdjs up and down arrow buttons

Step 14

Once we’re done working on the display, we can create the first button using a 4 x 2 px rectangle (#F9AE7A), with a 4 px thick outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and position in the device’s top-left corner, at a distance of 6 px from its left edge and 4 px from its top one.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs top-left button

Step 15

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 4 x 4 px circle (#E8DDDD) with a 4 px outline (#494343) which we will turn into a dial by adding a 4 x 2 px rectangle over its top half. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all the dial’s composing shapes, positioning it underneath the button that we’ve just created, at a distance of 6 px.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs top left dial

Step 16

Move on to the right side of the device, and create two 6 x 6 px circles (#494343) positioned 4 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then position in the center of the empty space created by the display and the upper section’s right edge.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs top right buttons

Step 17

Create the right sided dial using a larger 8 x 8 px circle (#E8DDDD) with a 4 px outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and then align to the bottom edge of the display’s outline, making sure to Horizontal Center Align it to the buttons that we’ve created in the previous step.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs top right dial

Step 18

Grab a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the dial that we’ve just created and position it to the top-left corner of the device’s lower section, so that you’ll end up with a 4 px gap from its left and top side.

Once you have it locked in place, rotate it at a 90 angle (right click > Transform > Rotate > 90), so that it won’t end up looking identical to the original.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs bottom left dial

Step 19

Start working on the center scratch jog wheel by creating a 44 x 44 px circle (#615A5A) with a 4 px thick outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and then position in the center of the device’s lower body.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs scratch jog wheel

Step 20

Create the front section of the wheel using a 28 x 28 px circle (#9B9494) with a 4 px thick outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and position on top of the base that we created in the previous step.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs scratch jog wheels front

Step 21

Add a 4 x 4 px circle (#494343) towards the bottom-right corner of the wheel’s front, and then select and group all its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

finishing off the cdjs scratch wheel

Step 22

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 4 x 4 px circle which we will color using #F97762, giving it a 4 px outline (#494343), grouping (Control-G) and then positioning the two in the device’s bottom-left corner, leaving a 4 px gap from the larger outline.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs bottom-left button

Step 23

Create the second bottom button, using a duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) of the one from the previous step, which we will adjust by changing its color to #F9AE7A and then position above it, at a distance of 4 px.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs second bottom-left button

Step 24

Start working on the fader by selecting the Rectangle Tool (M) and creating a 6 x 52 px shape which we will color using #787171, giving it a nice 4 px thick outline (#494343) grouping (Control-G) and positioning the two at a distance of 4 px from the device’s right edge.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs fader

Step 25

Double click on the shapes that we’ve just created to enter Isolation Mode and then add a 2 x 48 px rectangle (#494343) on top of them, making sure to center them to one another.

Once you’re done, press Escape to exit the isolation.

adding the little slider line to the cdjs fader

Step 26

Finish off the icon by creating the fader’s switch, using a 10 x 4 px rectangle (#E8DDDD) with a 4 px outline (#494343), on top of which we’ll add a smaller 8 x 2 px rectangle (#494343), grouping (Control-G) and then positioning them towards the lower side of the slider afterwards.

Also, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all of the icon’s composing shapes before moving on to the next one.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the cdjs fader switch

6. How to Create the Headphones

Assuming you’ve already locked the second layer, move on up to the third one where we’re going to take our time and create a pair of closed back headphones, so make sure you zoom in on that reference grid, and let’s get started.

Step 1

Start by creating a 104 x 114 rounded rectangle (#615A5A) with a 52 px Corner Radius, from which we will cut out a smaller 96 x 106 px one with a 48 px Corner Radius (highlighted with orange) positioning the resulting shape towards the center of the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the headphones head band

Step 2

Adjust the band’s main shape by removing its lower section containing the two bottom anchor points, using a 120 x 54 px rectangle (highlighted with orange) which we will center align to the bottom edge of the active drawing area.

adjusting the headphones head band using a rectangle

Step 3

Give the resulting shape a 4 px thick outline using the Offset Path method, which we will color using #494343.

adding the outline to the headphones band

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), add a 4 x 6 px shape (#E8DDDD) onto the bottom left side of the band, and another smaller 4 x 4 px square (#494343) on top of it, which we will group (Control-G) and then use to create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) which we’ll position onto the other side of the band.

adding the little metal sections to the bottom of the headphones head band

Step 5

Add a 2 x 6 px rectangle (#494343) onto each of the outer sides of the band, making sure to center them to the light grey sections that we created in the previous step.

adding the plastic side sections to the headphoness head band

Step 6

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 4 x 6 px shape (#494343) which we will position underneath the bottom edge of the band’s outline, centering it to the left light grey rectangle. Add a small 1 x 2 px (#494343) rectangle onto its left side, and then group (Control-G) and create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of them, which we will position onto the right side of the band, making sure to flip it vertically (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

You can also select all of the band’s composing shapes and group (Control-G) them as well since we’re pretty much done working on it.

adding the adjustment steps to the lower section of the headphones band

Step 7

Start working on the left ear cup by creating the main shapes for its driver encasing using an 8 x 20 px rectangle (#787171) with a 4 px outline (#494343), which we will position underneath the adjustable section of the band that we created in the previous step.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the headphones left driver enclosure

Step 8

Next, add a 2 x 20 px vertical rectangle (#494343) onto the left side of the encasing (2 px from its edge) and a 4 x 4 px circle (#494343) over it (positioned in a way that its left half completely overlaps the rectangle), selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing shapes afterwards.

adding details to the headphones left driver enclosure

Step 9

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to add a 2 x 12 px shape (#494343) to the left side of the driver’s outline, making sure to vertically center align the two using the Align panel.

adding the side section to the headphones left driver enclosure

Step 10

Switch over to the Rounded Rectangle Tool and use it to create an 8 x 44 px shape (#A79F9F) with a 4 px outline (#494343), on top of which we will add a 4 x 44 px vertical rectangle (#494343). Select and then group (Control-G) all three shapes together, positioning them onto the right side of the driver encasing afterwards, making sure the outlines end up overlapping.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the headphones left cup

Step 11

Start working on the ear pad by creating an 8 x 36 px rectangle (#615A5A) which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its left corners to 2 px. Give the resulting shape a 4 px outline (#494343) and then add a 2 x 36 px vertical rectangle (#4943432 px from its right side, grouping (Control-G) and then positioning all the pad’s composing shapes onto the right side of the cup.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the headphones left ear pad

Step 12

Create the lower section of the band using a 4 x 16 px rectangle (#494343), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 2 px and then position underneath the driver encasing. Add three 1 x 2 px rectangles (#494343) onto its left side, stacked vertically 2 px from one another, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its shapes and those of the cup afterwards.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the headphones left adjustment extension

Step 13

Create the right ear cup using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position onto the opposite side of the active drawing area, making sure to flip it vertically (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all the icon’s composing shapes together so that they won’t get separated by accident.

headphones icon finished

7. How to Create the MPC

So let’s be honest, no live set is complete without an MPC (Music Production Controller), which is why I’ve included one in the current pack. That being said, I hope you’ve already positioned yourself onto the fourth and last layer so that we can start working on it.

Step 1

Create the main body of the device using a 96 x 108 px rectangle (#BFB6B6) with a 4 px outline (#494343) which we will group (Control-G) and center align to the top edge of the underlying active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the mpcs body

Step 2

Fill in the empty space left over by the device’s body using a 92 x 4 px rectangle (#494343), which we will horizontal center align to the larger outline.

adding the bottom outline section to the mpcs body

Step 3

Create the main shape for the upper section using a 96 x 8 px rectangle which we will color using #787171 and then align to the upper edge of the body’s fill shape (the light grey rectangle).

creating and positioning the main shape for the mpcs upper section

Step 4

Isolate the shape that we’ve just created from the lower section of the body, by adding a 96 x 4 px horizontal divider right under it, which we will color using #494343.

adding the horizontal divider line to the upper section of the mpcs body

Step 5

Create the little side bolts using two 4 x 4 px circles, which we will color using #494343, and then position at a distance of 2 px from the outer edges of the underlying shape.

creating and positioning the little bolts onto the upper section of the mpcs body

Step 6

Add a little dummy text line, using a 24 x 4 px rectangle (#494343) followed by another smaller 14 x 4 px one (#494343) at a distance of 4 px, which we will adjust by selecting their inner bottom Anchor Points and moving them towards the left by 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > -2 px). Then, simply group (Control-G) the resulting shapes and center them in the device’s upper section, grouping (Control-G) its composing shapes as well.

adding the dummy text lines to the upper section of the mpcs body

Step 7

Create the left side section by adding a 2 x 96 px rectangle (#787171), followed by a wider 4 x 96 px one (#494343), on top of which we will position two 2 x 4 px rectangles (#4943434 px from the top and bottom edges, grouping all its composing shapes afterwards.

creating and positioning the left side section onto the mpcs body

Step 8

Add the right side section using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just created, which we will flip vertically (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then align to the right edge of the underlying grey shape.

creating and positioning the right side section onto the mpcs body

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 60 x 4 px shape, which we will color using #494343 and then center align to the bottom edge of the device’s body.

creating and positioning the bottom insertion onto the mpcs body

Step 10

Add the side bolts using two 4 x 4 px circles (#494343) which we will position onto the sides of the shape that we’ve just created, leaving a 2 px gap all around them.

Also, at this point it would be a good idea to select all of the icon’s composing shapes and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the lower side bolts onto the mpcs body

Step 11

Since we’re done working on the device’s actual body, we can now start adding the little interface elements, and we’ll start with the knobs.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create an 8 x 8 px circle (#494343), give it a 4 px outline (#494343), create a 2 x 6 px gain indicator (#494343), and then group (Control-G) and position the shapes underneath the device’s top section, leaving an all-around 4 px gap around them.

creating and positioning the first knob onto the mpcs body

Step 12

Add the remaining knobs using copies (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just created, vertically stacking them at a distance of 2 px from one another, making sure to adjust the position of the second gain indicator to add some variation to it.

creating and positioning the remaining knobs onto the mpcs body

Step 13

Create the button from underneath the last knob using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#E8DDDD) with a 4 px outline (#494343) and a 4 x 1 px insertion (#494343) aligned towards the top edge, which we will group (Control-G) and center align at a distance of 2 px.

creating and positioning the button from underneath the mpcs knobs

Step 14

Add the little pressure pads, using eight 8 x 8 px squares (#F97762) with a 4 px outline (#494343) stacked in two rows with a 2 px gap both horizontally and vertically.

adding the little pressure pads to the mpcs body

Step 15

Next, create the little orange buttons using two 8 x 2 px rectangles (#F9AE7A) with a 4 px outline (#494343) individually grouping (Control-G) and positioning them 2 px from the two bottom pads.

creating and positioning the two orange buttons onto the mpcs body

Step 16

Create the little modulation slider using an 8 x 74 px rectangle (#787171) with a 4 px outline (#494343) which we will position onto the right side of the device, at a distance of 4 px from the second row of pads.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the mpcs modulation slider

Step 17

Add the little indicator lines using eighteen 6 x 2 px rectangles (#494343) stacked vertically 2 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then position in the center of the slider’s fill shape.

adding the little indicator lines to the mpcs modulation slider

Step 18

Finish off the slider, and with it the icon itself, by adding a 6 x 10 px rectangle (#494343) over the fourth, fifth and sixth indicator lines, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing shapes together afterwards.

As always, don’t forget to select all of the icon’s shapes and group (Control-G) those as well.

mpc icon finished

Show’s Over!

There you have it: a really easy tutorial on how to build your own DJ themed icon set using some of the easiest tools and shapes that you probably already work with on a daily basis.

I hope you found the steps easy to follow and most importantly learned something new and useful along the way.

finished project preview
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