In this tutorial we show you how to create simple UI buttons using some basic techniques in Pixelmator. This article is part of a new series of tutorials for creating UI/UX designs in Pixelmator.
We are going to show you how to create the 9 most common types of buttons for UI / web design, so we have split up this article into a number of parts. Here is a preview of the different types of buttons you’ll learn to create. So stay tuned or subscribe to our newsletter, so that you don’t miss the next part.
UI / Web buttons are fundamental to any user oriented design. They are primarily used as “call to action” buttons, and placed in strategic points in UI / Web designs. The key to great button design is to be not only minimal, but attention grabbing, while blending in with the whole design.
The Basic Rounded Button
Rounded buttons are common place in web design. They can range in variety with brightness, colours, and highlights; however the best looking rounded buttons are found in flat designs, which is the trend these days.
So let’s get started.
Create a new document 640x480px.
In order to have a little contrast, so that we can view the buttons better (than over a transparent or plain colour background), we added a very subtle radial gradient to our background layer. The gradient settings are from colour #f3f3f3 to colour #c6c6c6. We just clicked and dragged from the top middle of the canvas to about halfway.
Bonus Tip: hold down Shift to draw the gradient in a straight line.
Next we are going to create our base button. Select the rounded rectangle shape from the main toolbar.
Draw a rounded rectangle in the centre of the canvas of size 300x80px. Set the fill colour to white, and the stroke to 1px and also white colour. Next zoom right into the top left of your rounded rectangle. Grab the blue shape handle, and first drag it all the way to the left, so we get a straight corner, and now move it to the right by 5px to get a nice rounded rectangle.
Great and now we have our basic rounded rectangle button.
Step 4 – Let’s add some colour
Now let’s add some colour to our button. Select the rounded rectangle shape, and open the layer styles panel (select fx to the left of the layer in the layers panel or hit CMD+7).
For both the fill colour and the stroke colour, we set it to a nice radiant blue #28bcfb.
At this stage, we have a nice rounded rectangle, but this can also be called a flat button.
Finally, we finish off the button by adding in some text. We used Helvetica set to font size 36pt, and colour white and placed the text in the middle of the button. Use the automatic alignment guides to help you centre the text on the button.
Now we have our first simple rounded button completed.
and remember you can also vary the colour to suit your overall design. Here is our button in a basic silver grey colour. You can use simple colour variations to create different hover states for buttons.
Step 5 – Shadows and Highlights
Let’s add in some shadows and highlights. In order to make our flat button pop off the page, and give it a little depth, we can simply add some shadows and highlights.
Select the rounded rectangle shape layer, and open the Shape Styles panel. Enable both the Shadow and the Inner Shadow options. For the Shadow, we will use a slightly darker colour blue (you can simply use the colour picker and reduce the brightness of your colour for a darker shade), set the angle to 270 degrees, with an offset of 2px, blur of 1px, and 100% opacity. This will give us a button shadow of 2px directly beneath the button.
Next for the highlight, we actually use the inner shadow option. In this case set the colour to white, angle at 90 degrees, with an offset of 2px, blur of 1px, and 50% opacity. This will give us a highlight at the top of the button as if there was a light source just above the button.
and really pops off the page. This is considered a 2D style button or more commonly web 2.0 buttons, which use this traditional format.
Remember you can change the colour of your button at any point, so how about this variation with a nice flat orange #f1c40f.
Step 6 – Engraved Text Effect
Next we want to make the text look like it is sculpted into the button. The easy way to do this is to add some offset shadow.
Duplicate the text layer, and set the text colour to black (or set it to a really dark version of your button colour).
Place the duplicated text layer directly under the original text layer. Once the black text is directly underneath the white text, simply move the black text by 1px up to create a basic offset shadow.
And the button looks really cool.
Even with a nice basic yellow, the offset shadow makes a difference, and every small detail counts when making an attractive design.
Step 7 – Add some texture for realism
You’ll notice that our buttons still look like simple graphics up to this point; however in some designs they need a more realistic look and feel. A quick way to achieve this is to add some noise texture to your button.
Simply duplicate the rectangle shape (do this only after you are happy with the button colour), align the new shape directly on top of the old shape. The automatic shape guides will help you do this. Right click on the new shape layer, and select Convert To Pixel.
With a basic noise texture, we’ve now given our button a brushed texture effect.
and this looks really good in any number of colours depending on your design.
Step 8 – Adding A Pattern
Another way to add texture/depth to your buttons is to use a pattern.
And the pattern texture combined with all the previous effects, give us a really cool textured button.
Again feel free to change the colours of your button to suit your overall style.
Great, we’ve reached the end of our first UI tutorial in Pixelmator, and now you know how to create you very own basic rounded buttons in a variety of different styles.
Next time, we’ll explore how to create glossy buttons.