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How to Create Stereo Headphone Plugs in Illustrator

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Read Time: 5 min

In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create a headphone plugs with cables using gradients. The techniques covered in this tutorial can be used to create other types of wires and electrical equipment as well. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

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Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Step 1

Open up a new document and select the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a rectangle. This will be used for the cable. We will keep it simple, for now set it to the default white fill and black stroke.

Step 2

Duplicate the rectangle below the first (Alt-drag).

Step 3

Create another rectangle and set the height to the same as the two long rectangles together, as shown below.

Step 4

Duplicate the small rectangle five times. Either use Alt + drag and the Command + D or use the Blend Tool. Select all of them and align them along the vertical.

Step 5

With the shapes still selected, distribute them now horizontally .

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Step 6

Create another rectangle and repeat the Steps three to five times.

Step 7

We now have six smaller rectangles and seven slightly taller ones in between.

Step 8

Again, create another more square rectangle next to the smaller ones.

Step 9

Create yet another rectangle, but make it slightly bigger. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select both right side points, then use the Scale Tool (E) to scale them up, while pressing Shift + Option.

Step 10

Create one more square looking rectangle.

Step 11

Add another one and make sure you keep the sizes oriented with the previous ones.

Step 12

We are now moving on to the thin part of the plug. Create another rectangle, which is the same height as the last one, but much thinner. Quick Tip: You could just duplicate the rectangles and scale them to the correct sizes.

Step 13

Make another rather long rectangle and align it to the vertical center of the rest of the shapes.

Step 14

Rinse and repeat!

Step 15

We need two small thin rectangles that will simulate the two small black rings on a headphone plug.

Step 16

Rinse and repeat.

Step 17

Copy the small rectangle from Step 15.

Step 18

Add another rectangle, but on the right side add one path point with the Pen Tool (P) in the middle of the path line and with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Repeat the scaling we did in Step 9. Now select the middle point and move it to the right. You can do this by hitting the right arrow key on your keyboard.

Step 19

This is the basic shape composition of the headphone plug.

Step 20

Select the small shapes we created earlier in Step 3-7 and group them (Command + G). Now go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners and apply a radius of 2pt.

Step 21

Let's move on to the colors. Create a linear gradient that goes from 100% black to 90% black to 100% black. Now drag it into the Swatch Palette.

Step 22

Setup another linear gradient with browns and beiges to simulate a golden color and drag it into the Swatch Palette.

Step 23

Now use the Selection Tool (V) to select the two rectangles that simulate the cable, then apply a dark gradient. Set the radius in the Gradient Palette to 90 degrees. Keep the Stroke.

Step 24

Apply the same gradient to the shapes with the rounded corners but set the radius to 0 degrees.

Step 25

Select all the other shapes and fill them with the golden gradient, radius 90 degrees. Just keep the two small rectangles filled with black.

Step 26

Select each golden shape separately, duplicate it on top (Command + C + F) and set the Layer Mode to Multiply.

Step 27

Select the next two shapes and repeat Step 26.

Step 28

Skip the next two shapes and select the following two rectangles. Repeat the duplicate and Layer Mode change.

Step 29

Select the two black shapes, duplicate them on top and increase the width with the Scale Tool (E), then fill them with the golden gradient and set the Layer Mode to Multiply.

Step 30

Last but not least, duplicate the tip shape on top and change the Layer Mode to Multiply.

Step 31

Select the cable shapes and make a duplicate. Then select the Warp Tool (Shift + R) and start pushing the cable shapes.

Step 32

Keep it simple and apply slight warping.

Step 33

This is what it could look like. Make sure you don't warp to much so the shapes won't separate.

Step 34

Connect the warped cables to the plug and voila, we have our little golden headphone plug. I applied small white squares which I duplicated and then grouped to simulate the rippled texture on a plug.


I grouped the shapes, reflected them and applied an Opacity Mask to simulate a reflective surface. You can easy change the colors or apply other gradients. Have fun!

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