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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. UI Design
Design

How to Create a Set of Music Player UI Buttons in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today’s tutorial we’re going to learn how to create our very own set of music control UI buttons, using some of the most basic shapes and tools that Illustrator has to offer.

And don't forget, you can always expand the pack by heading over to GraphicRiver, where you'll find a great selection of UI themed icons.

That being said, make sure you fill up that coffee mug since it’s going to be a long and interesting one!

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

Assuming you already have Illustrator up and running in the background, bring it up and let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 16
  • Spacing: 20 px
  • Width: 32 px
  • Height: 32 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
  • Preview Mode: Default
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 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 and Snap to Pixel options found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter Pixel Preview mode (if you’re using an older version of the software).

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 in order to separate the reference grids from the actual icons. If you're familiar with my previous tutorials, you’ll notice that with this one we’re taking a slightly different approach, since we’re basing the project on Artboards instead of Layers due to the high icon count.

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

  • layer 1: reference grids
  • layer 2: icons
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 once 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 32 x 32 px, which is on the smaller end of the scale.

Step 1

Make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the first one), and then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 32 x 32 px orange (#F15A24) square which we will center align to the first Artboard and use to define the overall size of our icons.

creating the main shape for the reference grid

Step 2

Add a smaller 28 x 28 px one (#FFFFFF), which we will position on top of the previous shape, since it will act as our active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 2 px padding to work with.

creating the main shape for the active drawing area

Step 3

Select and group the two squares together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then create the remaining grids using 15 copies (Control-C > Control-F) which we will position onto each of the empty Artboards. Take your time, and once you’re done, make sure you lock the current layer before moving on to the next section.

adding the remaining reference grids

5. How to Create the Play Button

Assuming you’ve successfully managed to create the little reference grids, move on to the next layer (that would be the second one), and let’s kick off the project by creating the first icon of the set.

Step 1

Start by creating the button’s main body using a 20 x 24 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Join, which we will center align to the first Artboard.

creating and positioning the main shape for the play button

Step 2

Adjust the shape of the rectangle that we’ve just created, by adding a new anchor point to the center of its right edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and then removing its top and bottom-right ones using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

finishing off the play button

6. How to Create the Stop Button

The next button is probably one of the easiest ones to create since it’s made out of a single shape.

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the button’s body using a 24 x 24 px square with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Join, which we will position in the center of the second Artboard.

creating and positioning the main shape for the stop button

7. How to Create the Pause Button

Assuming you’ve positioned yourself onto the third Artboard, let’s start working on our next button.

Step 1

Create the button’s left section using an 8 x 24 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) and a Round Join, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s left edge, as seen in the reference image.

creating and positioning the main shape for the left section of the pause button

Step 2

Finish off the button by adding its right section using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shape that we’ve just created, which we will position on the opposite side of the active drawing area. Once you have the copy in place, make sure to select and group (Control-G) the two shapes together before moving on to the next button.

finishing off the pause button

8. How to Create the Record Button

Move on to the next Artboard (that would be the fourth one) and let’s quickly create the record button.

Step 1

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 24 x 24 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730), which we will center align to the underlying active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shape for the record button

Step 2

Finish off the button by adding a smaller 12 x 12 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) in the center of the larger shape, making sure to select and group the two together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

finishing off the record button

9. How to Create the Fast Forward Button

Assuming you’ve finished working on the previous button, move on to the second row of Artboards, where we will start working on the little fast forward button.

Step 1

Create the main shape for the right arrow using a 12 x 16 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Join, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s right edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the right arrow of the fast forward button

Step 2

Turn the shape that we’ve just created into a right-facing arrow using the same process used for the play button, by adding a new anchor point to the center of its right edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and then removing its top and bottom right ones using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

adjusting the shape of the right arrow of the fast forward button

Step 3

Finish off the button by adding the left arrow using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will adjust by setting its Stroke’s color to #152730, aligning it to the left side of the active drawing area. Once you’re done, select and group the two shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

finishing off the fast forward button

10. How to Create the Fast Backward Button

Next, we’re going to create the fast backward button with the help of the one that we’ve just finished working on.

Make a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shapes that we’ve just grouped and position it on the next Artboard, making sure to vertically reflect it using the Reflect tool (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

creating the fast backward button

11. How to Create the Skip Forward Button

Position yourself onto the next Artboard, and let’s create the skip forward button.

Step 1

Start by creating the button’s right section using a 6 x 24 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Join, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s right edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the right section of the skip forward button

Step 2

Add the main shape for the right-facing arrow using an 18 x 24 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Join, which we will position on the opposite side of the underlying active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shape for the left section of the skip forward button

Step 3

Finish off the button by turning the shape that we’ve just created into a right-facing arrow, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all of its composing shapes together, before moving on to the next one.

finishing off the skip forward button

12. How to Create the Skip Backward Button

Next, we’re going to quickly create the mirror version of the skip button in a matter of seconds.

Create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the button that we’ve just finished working on, and position it onto the next Artboard, making sure to vertically reflect it using the Reflect tool (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

creating the skip backward button

13. How to Create the Shuffle Button

Position yourself onto the third row of Artboards, and let’s start working on the little shuffle button.

Step 1

Turn on the Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y), and then draw a z-shaped path using a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Cap, using the reference image as your main guide. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

drawing the main shape for the upper section of the shuffle button

Step 2

Adjust the shape of the path that we’ve just created, by smoothening out the inner facing anchor points using the Convert selected anchor points to smooth tool, and then repositioning their handles at a distance of 6 px from their center.

adjusting the shape of the upper section of the shuffle button

Step 3

While still in Pixel Preview mode, draw the little right-facing arrow using the reference image as your main guide. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) the two paths together making sure to go back to the Default preview mode (Alt-Control-Y).

adding the arrowhead to the upper section of the shuffle button

Step 4

Finish off the button by adding its lower section using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shapes that we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal) and then position so that the paths overlap, as seen in the reference image.

finishing off the shuffle button

14. How to Create the Repeat Button

Assuming you’ve finished working on the shuffle button, move on to the next Artboard, where we will start working on the repeat one.

Step 1

Start by creating the main shape for the button’s upper section using an 18 x 8 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730), which we will align to the active drawing area’s left edge, positioning it at a distance of 6 px from its top edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the upper body of the repeat button

Step 2

Adjust the shape of the rectangle that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of the top-left corner to 8 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

adjusting the shape of the upper section of the repeat button

Step 3

Continue adjusting the shape, by selecting its bottom-right anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing it by pressing Delete, making sure to set the resulting path’s Cap to Round.

removing the lower section from the upper body of the repeat button

Step 4

Add the little right-facing arrow using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one from the previous button, which we will position onto the adjusted path’s upper-right anchor point, as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group the two paths together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the arrowhead to the upper body of the repeat button

Step 5

Finish off the current button, by creating its lower section using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shapes that we’ve just grouped, which we will horizontally and vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal and Vertical) and then position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) the two sections together, before moving on to the next button.

finishing off the repeat button

15. How to Create the Playlist Button

Next, we’re going to take a couple of moments and create the playlist button, so make sure you’ve positioned yourself onto a new Artboard, and let’s get started.

Step 1

Create the little horizontal lines using two 14 px wide 4 px thick Strokes (#152730) with a Round Cap, positioned 4 px above a smaller 4 px wide one (#152730), which we will group (Control-G) and then align to the active drawing area’s top-left edge.

Step 2

Start working on the musical note by creating its lower body using a 10 x 8 px ellipse with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B), which we will align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its right edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the lower section of the musical note

Step 3

Finish off the note, and with it the icon itself, by drawing its stem using a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Cap and Join using the reference image as your main guide. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of its composing shapes together before moving on to the next one.

finishing off the playlist button

16. How to Create the Add to Playlist Button

Assuming you’ve finished working on the previous button, make your way to the next Artboard and let’s start working on our next item.

Step 1

Kick things off by creating the horizontal detail lines using two 24 px wide 4 px thick Strokes (#152730) with a Round Cap, vertically stacked 4 px above two smaller 10 px ones (#152730), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the active drawing area’s left edge.

creating the main shapes for the left section of the add to playlist button

Step 2

Start working on the little plus sign by creating the vertical segment using an 8 px tall 4 px thick Stroke line (#EF815B) with a Round Cap, which we will align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its right edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the vertical section of the plus symbol

Step 3

Finish off the plus sign, and with it the button itself, by adding the horizontal segment using an 8 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Cap, which we will center align to the previously created segment. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) the two together, doing the same for the entire button afterwards.

finishing off the add to playlist button

17. How to Create the Download Button

Position yourself onto the fourth and last row of Artboards, and let’s start working on button number 13.

Step 1

Create the main shape for the box using a 24 x 6 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B) with a Round Cap and Join, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the bottom section of the download button

Step 2

Open up the path of the shape that we’ve just created, by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), which we will then remove using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

opening up the path of the bottom section of the download button

Step 3

Start working on the down-facing arrow, by creating its main body using an 18 px tall 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Cap, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s top edge.

creating the main body for the down facing arrow of the download button

Step 4

Finish off the arrow, and with it the button itself, by drawing the down-facing head using a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Cap and Join. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) the arrow’s composing shapes together, making sure to do the same for the entire button afterwards.

finishing off the download button

18. How to Create the EQ Button

Next off our list is the EQ button, which as you’ll see is pretty easy to make.

Step 1

Start out by creating three columns of 4 px wide 4 px thick Stroke lines (#152730), which we will vertically stack 2 px from one another both vertically and horizontally.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the eq button

Step 2

Select the top three Stroke rows, and then adjust them by changing their color to #EF815B.

adjusting the color of the eq button

Step 3

Finish off the button by selecting and removing some of the composing line segments as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the remaining ones before moving on to the next button.

finishing off the eq button

19. How to Create the Cast Button

Assuming you’ve finished working on the previous button, move on to the next Artboard, and let’s start working on the little cast symbol.

Step 1

Create the button’s main shape using a 24 x 20 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) and a Round Cap and Join, which we will center align to the underlying active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shape for the body of the cast button

Step 2

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created, by switching over to Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y) and then adding a new anchor point 4 px from its top-left corner, followed by another one positioned 8 px from its bottom-right corner using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+).

adding a set of new anchor points to the body of the cast button

Step 3

Open up the path that we’ve just adjusted by selecting its bottom-left anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then removing it by pressing Delete.

adjusting the shape of the body of the cast button

Step 4

Start working on the lower-left section by creating an 8 x 8 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B), which we will position as seen in the reference image.

creating and positioning the smaller circle for the cast button

Step 5

Create a slightly bigger 20 x 20 px circle with the same 4 px thick Stroke (#EF815B), which we will center align to the one from the previous step.

creating and positioning the larger circle onto the cast button

Step 6

Finish off the button by selecting and removing the two circles’ left and bottom anchor points, grouping the resulting shapes and the larger frame together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

finishing off the cast button

20. How to Create the Share Button

We are now down to our 16th and last button, so make sure you’ve positioned yourself onto the remaining Artboard and let’s finish this!

Step 1

Start by creating the frame using a 24 x 16 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#152730) with a Round Cap and Join, which we will center align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, positioning it at a distance of just 2 px from it.

creating and positioning the main shape for the body of the share button

Step 2

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding a new anchor point at a distance of 4 px from the frame’s top-left corner, followed by another one at a distance of 6 px from its bottom-right one. Open up the resulting shape’s path by selecting its top-right anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing it by pressing Delete.

opening up the path of the body for the share button

Step 3

Finish off the current button, and with it the project itself, by adding the right-facing arrow using a copy (Control-C) of the one from the repeat button, which we will paste (Control-F) onto the current Artboard and then adjust by shortening the length of its body from 18 px to 16 px

Once you’re done, position the resulting shapes as seen in the reference image, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all of the button’s composing shapes together before hitting that save button.

finishing off the share button

It’s a Wrap!

There you have it—a nice and easy tutorial on how to create your very own set of control buttons. As always, I hope you’ve managed to follow each and every step and, most importantly, learned a new trick or two along the way.

finished project preview
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