How to create a boombox illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Welcome back to yet another Illustrator tutorial in which we’re going to learn how to create a retro looking boombox illustration, using nothing more than the basic geometric shapes and tools that we rely on a daily basis.

1. How to Create a New Document

As we do with all of our projects, let’s start by setting up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) which we will adjust 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 (72 ppi)

We’re going to be creating the icons using a Pixel Perfect Workflow, so I highly recommend you take a moment and read this in depth tutorial (http://www.freepik.com/blog/how-to-create-pixel-perfect-icons/) that will get you up to speed in no time.

Quick tip: some of you might have noticed that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid option is missing, well that’s because the new software update has improved the way Illustrator handles pixel snapping, making it less of a hassle.

2. How to Set Up the Layers

With each new project, I like to separate my assets on a couple of different layers, since this way I can streamline my workflow by focusing on one item at a time, which allows me to keep track of each and every shape at all time.

So, open up the Layers panel, and let’s create two layers which we will name as follows:

• layer 1 > background

• layer 2 > boombox

• layer 3 > musical notes 

The way we’re going to be using these layers within our workflow is pretty easy. We’ll want to lock all except the one that we will be working on, so that we won’t move or misplace some of the shapes by accident. Then, once we’re done with the current section, we can then lock its layer and move on up to the next one.

3. How to Create the Background

We’re going to kick off the project, by creating the little horizontal background line, so make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the first one) and let’s get started.

Step 1

Create the background line using a 400 px wide 8 px thick Stroke line with a Round Cap, which we will color using #3A2929, and then center align to the Artboard, positioning it at a distance of 146 px from its bottom edge.

Step 2

Create the actual background using a 356 x 356 px circle, which we will color using #EFBD75 and then center align to the horizontal line, positioning it at a distance of 94 from the Artboard’s bottom edge.

Step 3

Since we want the bottom section of the circle that goes underneath the background line to be hidden, we will have to mask it using a 408 x 300 px rectangle (highlighted with orange) which we will center align to its top edge. Once you have it in place, simply select both shapes (the one that you want to mask and the one you will use as the mask) and then right click > Make Clipping Mask.

Step 4

Select the masked circle and send it to the back of the horizontal background line by right clicking > Arrange > Send to Back, grouping the two together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

4. How to Create the Boombox

With the background in place, we can now focus on the actual device, so move on up to the next layer (that would be the second one) making sure to lock the previous one, and let’s get started.

Step 1

Create the front section of the boombox’s stand using a 232 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #937C7C, and then position onto the top half of the horizontal line, at a distance of 64 px from its right edge.

Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created an outline using the Stroke method, by creating a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by changing its color to #3A2929, and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift-X), making sure to set its Weight to 8 px. Once you’re done, select and group the two shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 3

Create the stand’s side section using a 48 x 12 px rectangle (#725656) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the left side of the previously created shapes.

Step 4

Create three 12 px tall 8 px thick Stroke lines distanced at 12 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the shapes from the previous step. Then, once you have them in place, select both them and the underlying section and group (Control-G) those as well.

Step 5

Start working on the front section of the boombox’s main body, by creating a 248 x 108 px rectangle (#DBCCCC) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929) which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the stand’s front section.

Step 6

Create the cassette tray’s bottom section using a 56 x 20 px rectangle (#BC8671) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the larger body’s bottom edge.

Step 7

Add a 40 px wide 4 px thick Stroke line (#3A2929) to the center of the previously created shapes, grouping them together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 8

Create the actual cassete tray using a 56 x 36 px rectangle (#725656) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position on top of the previous shapes.

Step 9

Create the reel wheels using two 8 x 8 px circles (#3A2929), which we will distance at 8 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and then center aligning them to the underlying shapes, positioning them at a distance of 8 px from the outline’s top edge.

Step 10

Create the tray’s side insertions using two 8 x 12 px rectangles (#3A2929), which we will center align to its left and right edges.

Step 11

Finish off the cassette tray, by adding the bottom insertion using a 28 x 10 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#3A2929) which we will center align to the tray’s bottom edge. Once you’re done, select and group all of the current section’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, do the same for the entire tray afterwards.


Step 12

Move a few pixels towards the left, and let’s start working on the first speaker unit by creating a 64 x 64 px circle (#725656) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then vertically center align to the boombox’s larger body, positioning it at a distance of 8 px from its left edge.


Step 13

Add the dust cap using a 24 x 24 px circle (#BC8671) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the previously created shapes.

Step 14

Add the cone’s top-left detail line by creating a 44 x 44 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#3A2929) which we will center align to the speaker’s main body, and then adjust by selecting its bottom and right anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing them by pressing Delete.

Step 15

Adjust the resulting shape, by selecting it and then setting its Cap to Round from within the Stroke panel’s Cap settings.

Step 16

Add the bottom-right detail line using the exact same process only this time remove the top and left anchor points from the 4 px thick circle (#3A2929). Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all of the speaker unit’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 17

Create the right speaker unit 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 boombox, making sure to leave the same 8 px gap between it and the larger outline.

Step 18

Start working on the little adjustment sliders, by creating the center one using a 28 px tall 4 px thick Stroke line (#3A2929) which we will center align to the cassette tray, positioning it at a distance of 12 px from it.

Step 19

Add the actual slider knob using a 16 x 8 px rectangle (#3A2929) which we will center align to the previously created stroke line, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge. Once you have the shape in place, select both it and the stroke and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 20

Create the side adjustment sliders using two copies (Control-C > Control-F twice) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally distribute at a distance of 4 px from the original, grouping (Control-G) them all together afterwards.

Step 21

Start adding the front bolts using four 8 x 8 px circles (#3A2929) which we will position to each of the larger body’s corners, leaving a 4 px gap around them.

Step 22

With the bolts in place, add the small rectangular insertions using two groups of two 24 x 8 px rectangles (#3A2929), which we will center align to each speaker unit, making sure to position them onto the body’s outer edges. Once you’re done, select and group all of the section’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 23

Create the side section using a 48 x 108 px rectangle (#937C7C) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the left side of the boombox’s main body.

Step 24

Add some details to the shapes that we’ve just grouped, by creating three 108 px tall 8 px thick Stroke lines (#3A2929), horizontally distributed at 12 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the underlying shapes, grouping (Control-G) those together as well.

Step 25

Start working on the front section of the boombox’s upper body by creating a 248 x 52 px rectangle (#BC8671) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the device’s main body.

Step 26

Create the radio dial’s main body, using an 88 x 20 px rectangle (#8E594D) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the front section’s upper body.

Step 27

Add the state indicator lines using a 72 px wide 4 px thick Stroke line (#3A2929), followed by an 8 px tall 4 px thick Stroke line (#3A2929) towards its left side, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the underlying rectangles. Once you’re done, select all of the current sections composing shapes and group (Control-G) those as well.

Step 28

Move a few pixels towards the left, and create the boombox’s left tweeter, using a 28 x 28 px circle (#725656) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), on top of which we will add a 12 x 12 px circle (#3A2929). Group (Control-G) all three shapes together, and then position them onto the left side of the dial, at a distance of 28 px.

Step 29

Create the right tweeter unit 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 radio dial, maintaining the same 28 px distance.

Step 30

As we did with the boombox’s center section, add the little bolts using four 8 x 8 px circles (#3A2929) which we will individually position onto each corner, making sure to leave a 4 px gap around them.

Step 31

Finish off the current section, by adding the bottom rectangular insertion using a 60 x 8 px rectangle (#3A2929), which we will center align to the upper body’s bottom edge. Once you’re done, select and group all its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 32

Create the upper body’s side section using a 48 x 52 px rectangle (#9E695A) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position next to the boombox’s front sections.

Step 33

Add the little bolts using two 8 x 8 px circles (#3A2929), which we will position towards the bottom of the rectangles that we’ve just created in the previous step, leaving a 4 px gap around them. Then, select the bolts and the underlying shapes and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 34

Move a few pixels towards the top and let’s start working on the boombox’s buttons, by creating the volume knob using a 36 x 16 px rectangle (#937C7C) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929) which we will group (Control-G) and then position on top of the upper body’s front section.

Step 35

Give the knob some depth, by creating three 16 px tall 4 px thick Stroke lines (#3A2929) distanced at 8 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the two rectangles from the previous step. Finish off the knob by adding a 28 x 8 px rectangle (#3A2929) to the center of its outline’s top edge, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its shapes together afterwards.

Step 36

Create the first out of five buttons, using a 16 x 12 px rectangle (#937C7C) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the right side of the knob, at a distance of 24 px.

Step 37

Create the remaining buttons using three copies (Control-C > Control-F three times) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally distribute onto its right side.

Step 38

Give the buttons some depth, by adding the side section to the first instance, which we will create using 12 x 12 px square (#725656) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto its left side. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all four buttons together as well.

Step 39

Start working on the record button, by creating a 24 x 12 px rectangle (#C67160) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the right side of the boombox, at a distance of 28 px from the four smaller buttons.

Step 40

Give the button some depth, by adding its side section using a 12 x 12 px square (#A55242) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto its left side. Then, select both the front and side section and group (Control-G) those together as well.

Step 41

Start working on the handle, by creating a 12 x 76 px rectangle, which we will center align to the side section of the boombox’s upper body, positioning it at a distance of 16 px from its outline’s bottom edge.

Step 42

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 6 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

Step 43

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), followed by four 12 px wide 4 px thick Stroke lines (#3A2929) vertically stacked at a distance of 6 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then position towards the handle’s top. Once you have the lines in place, select and group (Control-G) both them and the handle’s composing shapes together as well.

Step 44

Create the handle’s top section, using a 248 x 12 px rectangle (#BC8671) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then align to the top edge of the left section, positioning it onto its right side.

Step 45

As we did with the side section, add a couple of detail lines using fourteen 12 px tall 4 px thick Stroke lines (#3A2929) distanced at 6 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the handle’s top. Once you’re done, select the detail lines and the current section and group (Control-G) those together as well.

Step 46

Finish off the handle and with it the boombox itself, by adding the right side section which we will create using a 12 x 32 px rectangle (#937C7C) with an 8 px thick outline (#3A2929), which we will group (Control-G) and then right align to the top section. As always, once you’re done select and group (Control-G) all the handle’s composing sections together, doing the same for the entire boombox afterwards.

5. How to Create the Musical Notes

Hang in there guys, since we’re almost done! All we need do in order finish the illustration is add the little musical notes, so make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the third one) and let’s wrap things up!

Step 1

Create the main shape for the repeating eighth note using a 16 x 12 px ellipse (#3A2929) (1), and then draw in its stem (2) and flag (3) using a 4 px thick Stroke (#3A2929) with a Round Cap. Once you’re done, select and group both shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 2

Create the double bar note using two copies (Control-C > Control-F twice) of the single one, which we will distance at 4 px from one another (1), adjusting them by first removing their flags and then increasing the height of their stems (2). Draw in the little down-facing bridge (3 and 4), and then select and group all three shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 3

Finish off the illustration by creating a few copies (Control-C > Control-F) of the notes that we’ve just created, and then positioning them around the boombox as see in the reference image.

It’s a Wrap!

Great job guys! I know this might have taken us a little longer than expected, but I believe the end result is all worth it. I hope you’ve managed to keep up with each and every step, and most importantly learned something new and useful along the way.

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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