How to Create Retro Square Push Buttons in Photoshop

Tutorial Preview

Step 1: Create the Background

Open up Photoshop. Create a new Photoshop document with a canvas size of 500x300px.

Unlock the default Background layer by first double-clicking on it in the Layers panel, which will open up the New Layer dialog window, and then pressing OK in the New Layer dialog window.

Next, to give the unlocked Background layer a gradient background, open the Layer Style dialog window of the layer by again double-clicking it in the Layers panel.

Give the layer a Gradient Overlay layer effect with the settings shown below.

Step 2: Create the Buttons Holder

Click on the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) in the Tools panel. In the Options bar of the Rounded Rectangle Tool (located at the top of Photoshop), make sure that the Shape layers option is selected, and then set the Radius option to 3px and the Color option to a very dark gray color (#262427).

With the Rounded Rectangle Tool properly set up, draw a dark rectangle shape as shown below.

In the Layers panel, double-click on the "buttons holder" layer to open up the Layer Style dialog window. We’ll give this layer a Color Overlay, Inner Shadow and Stroke. Below are the settings for each of these layer effects.

Color Overlay

Inner Shadow

Stroke

This is what we have after applying the layer effects:

Step 3: Create the Button’s Base Shape

Zoom in closely with the Zoom Tool (Z) (e.g., zoom in by 200%). This will make it easier for us to work precisely.

Set up the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) so that it has a Radius of 3px and a color of white (#ffffff). Then draw a white square shape that will be the base shape of our buttons.

In the Layers panel, double-click on our newly created shape layer to open up the Layer Style dialog window. We will give this shape the following layer effects: Inner Glow, Gradient Overlay and Stroke. Use the images below as a reference.

Inner Glow

Gradient Overlay

Stroke

Let’s take a look at our button’s base now:

Step 4: Add a Circle in the Middle

Switch to the Ellipse Tool (U) and then draw a white circle in the middle of button’s base. Hold down Alt + Shift (Mac users: Option + Shift) while drawing with the Ellipse Tool to constrain proportions.

Open the Layer Style dialog window and give the circle shape an Inner Shadow, Gradient Overlay, and Stroke layer effect. The settings for these layer effects are shown below.

Inner Shadow

Gradient Overlay

Stroke

Here’s the preview of our progress thus far:

Create a new layer. Switch to the Brush Tool (B) and choose a soft, round brush with the Size set to 15px. Paint a white (#ffffff) spot close to the bottom of the circle to add a lighting effect to our button.

The button is finished. Let’s take a look at it:

In the Layers panel, select the button base, the circle and the light layer and then put them in a layer group that you can call "Button."

Step 5: Creating the Other Buttons

Duplicate the "Button" group twice and then use the Move Tool (V) to move the duplicates like on the image below.

On the last button (the one on the farthest right), use the Ellipse Tool (U) to add an orange (#df7237) circle.

Open the Layer Style dialog window for the orange circle layer and give it an Inner Shadow layer effect.

Create a new layer on top of the orange circle (PC users: Ctrl + Shift + N Mac users: Command + Shift + N).

Switch to the Brush Tool (B) and set it up so that it has a soft, round brush and Size of 15px. On the new layer, paint a small white spot over the bottom of the orange circle. Then lower the Opacity of this layer to 70%.

Now let’s make the rightmost button appear as though it was pushed down.

In the Layers panel, double-click on the "button base" layer of the rightmost button to open the Layer Styles dialog window. Give this layer an Inner Shadow to make this button looks like it’s pressed.

That’s it!

Tutorial Summary

We have created a simple yet beautiful set of user interface buttons inspired by Braun products from the 60’s. You may be surprised to find out that we only used basic Photoshop features like shape tools, the Brush Tool and layer styles.

I hope you have learned something new and useful by following along with this tutorial. Thanks for reading!

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  • Good work Nikola!…and very easy steps to follow to implement. seems a real buttons. thanks for sharing.

  • Excellent tutorial, Thank You

  • Love it so much I thought I would try and build it with CSS. Not quite as nice (CSS Gradients aren’t as smooth) but pretty cool considering how easy it is to replicate, scale and customize.
    Check it out here.

    http://www.steve-cross.com/retro_buttons.html

  • Steve, that’s super awesome. And thank you for posting a link to your demo! It looks amazing!

  • Luke Bushell

    You Should probably credit Adrien Olczak as the the original designer of this.
    Here is a link to his Dribble shot.

    http://dribbble.com/shots/597337-Braun-UI?list=searches&tag=ui

  • namkuba

    thanks for sharing. tutorials very goood

  • Francis Lewis

    Million thanks Nikola, easy steps for anybody can follow, implement & make use of it.

  • Any Thing

    You are an angel or other holy creator.