Pixelmator Tip #42 – How To Create Simple UI Buttons – Glossy Buttons

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In this tutorial we show you how to create simple glossy buttons using 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.

Last time we showed you how to make basic rounded buttonsSo stay tuned or subscribe to our newsletter, so that you don’t miss the next part.

Glossy Buttons

Glossy buttons are the next step up from flat design. The gloss effect can be created using a range of techniques, and in this tutorial we’ll show you some of the basics using Pixelmator. Well designed glossy buttons can really capture your attention on a website.


So let’s get started.

Step 1:

Create a new document 800x600px.


Step 2:

Using the techniques we showed you in our first tutorial – Simple Rounded Buttons, create the base rounded button.2

Step 3 – Add some simple gloss using gradients

Make sure you have selected the main rectangle shape. Now change the Fill from Colour to Gradient. We aren’t going to use any Stroke settings for the rest of this tutorial.

Open the Gradients panel (CMD+5), and create a new gradient. We are still using the same base orange colour (#f1c40f), but we just adjusted the brightness. All you have to do is click on each colour stop (the arrow at the bottom of the gradient), which opens the colours panel. 3

Once the panel is open, select the # menu in the top right, and set the default orange colour #f1c40f. Now go back to the colour wheel menu, and using the slider below the colour wheel, increase or reduce the brightness by dragging it left or right.

At this point it might be handy to drag these colours into the colour swatch to save them for later use. To finish the gradient, you need to create one light colour, and one dark colour.


When applied to the button, you will see two blue handles.  These handles will help you adjust the gradient. We just dragged the handles, so that they touch the border of the buttons, and also made sure the lighter shade is at the bottom of the button.

Have fun playing around with the handles, as you can alter the angle of the gradient and change how the button looks.

Great, we have now created our first simple gloss effect on our button using a gradient.


Step 4 – Adding a glossy shine

For the next effect, we will add a glossy shine to our button using a simple technique.

First, create a rectangle, make it just wider than our base button, and make it a white colour. In the layers panel make sure this new button sits just above the base button rectangle (and below the text layers).

Drag this rectangle to roughly cover half of the top of the button. The automatic shape guides will help you line them up correctly.

Next in the layers panel, select the new rectangle, and change the layer blending mode to Overlay and change the Opacity to 25%.8

This give us a nice ghostly button. 9

Now in the layers panel, right-click on the ghostly button, and select Create Clipping Mask. This will restrict the shape to boundaries of the original rectangle button.


And there you have it – our button has a nice shiny gloss.11

This is one of the most commonly used gloss techniques for UI buttons as it needs very little effort to create a cool effect.


Step 5 – A more realistic gloss

The basic shiny gloss we added in the last step looks great, but still a bit static. We can make this a more realistic looking gloss by using some more gradient effects.

Select the Gloss rectangle you created in the previous step. Remember that we set it to a White colour originally. Now change that Fill from Colour to Gradient. Open the Gradient panel (CMD+5), and create a simple gradient starting at White colour on one end, and a simple Grey on the other end.

Don’t worry too much about the exact colour settings here, as it won’t be too disruptive. The final setting is to select the layer in the Layers panel and set the Opacity to 75%.


Remember to save the gradient, if you are going to use it again in future.

We need to adjust the gloss rectangle. First, we adjusted the size of the rectangle to meet the top border of the original rectangle (note: we disabled the clipping mask on this layer before we adjusted the size, but make sure to set the clipping mask again before you move on). Next we adjusted the gradient handles, so that the lighter colour is at the top and the darker part is at the bottom.

This give us a cool gradient gloss effect on the top half of the button.

Now, duplicate the gloss rectangle, move it to cover the bottom half of the button, and right-click on the new shape, choose Transform and then Flip Vertical. We also adjusted the gradient by making sure the lighter colour is at the bottom and the darker colour it at the top. On this new layer, also set the Opacity to 50% in the Layers panel. Also, right-click on the layer, and select Create Clipping Mask.

Note: We also made sure that the darker colour handle starts about halfway down, rather than at the edge of the new gloss rectangle.14

Our glossy button is really coming along and looks more realistic. We are going to add one more element to complete the realistic effect. We are going to add a simple highlight at the bottom of the button, so that it offsets the darker orange shadow.

To do this, duplicate the new glossy rectangle and make sure is placed above all the other gloss layers in the layers panel. Next, we set the Opacity of this new layer to 25%. Also, right-click on the layer, and select Create Clipping Mask.

Open the Layer Styles panel by selecting FX beside the layer (or hit CMD+7).


Now set the Fill to the original Orange colour #f1c40f (and make sure it is not a gradient).  Also enable the Inner Shadow to create the highlight. We set it to a White colour, Angle of 270 degrees, Offset of 2px, and Blur of 1px.


This creates a nice 2px highlight at the bottom of the button, and now our glossy button is complete.


Step 6 – Lets really bring that gloss alive with shadows

The final stage to really bring out the gloss in the button is to actually add some shadow below the button.

Duplicate the original button rectangle, and set the Fill colour to a Dark Orange (you can just adjust the brightness of the colour below the colour wheel like we did earlier). Make sure this layer is below the original button layer in the layers panel.


Right-click on the layer, and select Convert To Pixel. Next open the Effect Panel (CMD+3), select Blur, and then Gaussian Blur.

Drag the blur effect onto the shadow button layer, and set the Radius to 10px.19

Adjust the position of the shadow button layer directly under the main button. You can play around with the placement of the shadow here to change lighting on your button. 20

And finally we have created an awesome glossy button using some very basic techniques in Pixelmator.glossy-button-5

Great, we’ve reached the end of our this UI tutorial, and now you know how to create you very own glossy buttons in a variety of different styles using Pixelmator.


Next time, we’ll explore how to create metallic buttons.

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  • April 11, 2015

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