Tutorial: Create a vector stop watch icon

Adobe Illustrator tutorial - Create a vector stop watch icon

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a vector stop watch icon in Adobe Illustrator. The tutorial is covering all the steps needed to create a great looking, realistic stop watch. Only the basic tools in Illustrator such as Ellipse, Rectangle, Gradient and transformations are used to achieve the result you see here.

Final stop watch icon created with Adobe Illustrator

This tutorial is created in Adobe Illustrator CS2, but the techniques described here should apply on other platforms.

1. Create the metal framework

First we create the frame of the watch. Create a circle with the Ellipse tool. Give the circle a gradient fill with the settings shown below. Drag the gradient so the light spot will be in the upper left part of the circle.

Create a new circle with the same center as the first. Make this circle a bit smaller than the first. Give the circle a gradient fill with the settings shown below.

The result should look like this:

Add a third circle again with the same center and again a bit smaller than the second circle. Give the new circle a gradient looking like this:

To add an additional shadow effect to the third circle create a new circle the same size and apply a gradient and transparency setting like this:

The result should look like this:

Now to the face of the watch. Create a new circle a bit smaller than the previous. Add the gradient below and drag so the lightest part is in the center of the watch.

Now you have created the metal frame of the watch and the watch face. Let’s move on to the buttons.

2. Buttons

To add the buttons to the stopwatch first create a new layer and place it below the first layer.

Create a rectangle centered at the top of the watch. Fill the rectangle with a gradient like the one below to simulate reflections on the metal.

Copy the new rectangle by either dragging it while holding down ALT key or by copying and then paste in front (CTRL+F). Move the new rectangle up above the first and scale it on the x axis so it becomes wider than the first.

To simulate the corrugated surface of the button we will make a lot of dark rectangles to simulate shadows. Create a bunch of small rectangles as shown below and let them be on top of the button. Make them all black and set their transparency to 60%.

To add an drop shadow to the button create a new rectangle below the upper part but on top of the first rectangle. Make the box black and set the transparency to 30%.

Now create two circles as shown below. Select the two circles and make a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make). Place the circle behind the button (Object > Arrange > Send to Back)

Add this gradient to the new circle. Drag the gradient from the center of the circle to the edge.

To add a start/stop button reuse parts of the button we just created. Select the two main rectangles and the drop shadow rectangle we created and copy/paste them. Rotate them about 35 degress and place them to the left of the watch.

Now you have created the buttons for the stop watch. Next: all the details.

3. Watch face, numbers and details

We move on to create the numbers and the details on the watch face. Create a new layer and place it on top of the others. Before creating the digits, we’ll create all the lines. First create a single line in the top as shown here:

With the line selected, click the rotate tool. Drag the pivot point from the center of the line to the center of the watch. Now rotate the line while holding both shift (incremental steps) and ALT (copying) down. Drop the copy of the line at 180 degrees.

We want to copy these lines around the face with 6 degrees between each. Select both lines and open the rotate window (Object > Transform > Rotate). Type “6″ in the Angle field and click Copy.

Repeat this step by pressing CTRL+D. Repeat until you have created 90 degrees of copying.

We want to highlight every 5th second, so we will now change the line weights. Every 5th line should be heavier (1.3 pt.) and the rest lighter (0.6 pt.).

We need to create even more lines on this watch. Create a new layer. Create a line at the top of the face (12 o’clock) that is even lighter (0.2 pt.) and shorter than the lines on the previous layer. As before with the line selected, click the rotate tool. Drag the pivot point from the center of the line to the center of the watch. Now rotate the line while holding both shift and ALT down. Drop the copy of the line at 180 degrees.

Select both lines and open the rotate window (Object > Transform > Rotate). Type “1″ in the Angle field and click Copy. Repeat this step by pressing CTRL+D. Repeat until you have created 90 degrees of copying.

To create an extra detail create two circles with a center point at the center of the watch face. The one circle should be just at the edge of the newly created lines, and the other just a bit closer to the center. Make the line weight 0.4 pt.

Now it’s time to add the digits. Create the numbers by using the type tool and a font of your choice to add numbers next to the heaviest lines.

That was all the digits. Now let’s create the needle. You can use the star tool to create a triangle. Drag a star and while still holding down your mouse button press the arrow down key on your keyboard to reduce the polygon count. Release when you have a triangle. Make the triangle dark gray.

Resize the triangle to an extremely narrow point and adjust the length so it touches the lines on the watch face.

Add a small circle at the center of the watch. Give at a dark gray gradient. You can rotate the needle by selecting it and then with the rotate tool selct the pivot point in the center of the circle.

The last detail we will create in this tutorial is a reflection on the glass surface. Create a new layer. Create two circles as shown here.

In the Pathfinder tools window choose Divide. Select the object and Ungroup it (Object > Ungroup). Delete everything besides this shape:

Add a gradient to make the reflection by using these settings:

The result should look like this:

That’s it… you’re done. Now you have a fine looking stop watch icon.

The Final Result

Here’s the final result. You can always add more details to the stopwatch or adjust things as you want.

Stop watch designed in Illustrator

Resources, Tips November 2nd 2010

9 Responses to “Tutorial: Create a vector stop watch icon”

  1. Max Says:

    very well written tutorial. well done!

  2. Bruno Says:

    Very good job!!! Simple and clean, love it.

  3. tech blog Says:

    awesome work and very well explained tutorial

  4. RogCus Says:

    First class easy to follow tutorial with professional result

  5. Shuttermonkey Says:

    Brilliant tutorial – many thanks!

  6. Duke Says:

    Nice!!
    Would be even better if you’d actually share the final result for download! ;)

  7. uzma Says:

    easy

  8. Anis Says:

    Excellent & very well explained tutorial. Very good job! Simple and clean. Thanks a lot……………

  9. Joani Says:

    Wow. That’s not only amazing but tutorials tend to bore me half way though causing me to either say, “Never mind” or skipping steps, and this one was done perfectly. Thank you! I have a lot of mommy bloggers who wish they could create their own graphics…I will definitely send them to this site! Thank you!

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