Drawing a Stylish Computer Key in Adobe Illustrator

Deke's Techniques by Deke McClelland

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke creates a type effect in Adobe Illustrator that emulates the keys on this very machine on which I am currently typing. I call it the Type Type effect, but I’m guessing the editors at Lynda.com wouldn’t have fallen for that one.

Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful “something from nothing” effect that you can adapt to any typeface and text you like. Along the way, you’ll review some basic skills like rounding corners, creating custom gradients, and applying strokes and glows. (Oh, and it demonstrates a real world application of Deke’s Techniques 379: Two Ways to Create Center Guides in Illustrator.)

He begins with this rounded rectangle (OK, sure, it’s a square) to which he applies a few of custom gradients, both as strokes and fills.

A rounded rectangle with multiple gradient strokes.

Then, a blurred white stroke and a white outer glow provide the “backlight.”

A blurred stroke and outer glow in Adobe Illustrator

And finally, a well-placed letter and another helping of gradient help finish things up.

A type that looks like a keyboard key created in Adobe illustrator

If you’re a member of Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning, Deke’s got an exclusive movie this week in which he gives you some excellent tips for accurately spacing your keyboard type to actually spell out words.

Deke’s Techniques, where the mechanics become the message!

Next entry:Creating a Faux Hedcut in Photoshop

Previous entry:Simulating an Adjustment Layer in Adobe Illustrator


  • I am pretty certain that you demonstrated how to create a stroke profile to do this in one of your movies, but not sure which one. Can you help me with this? Thank you. Virginia Harwood RandiRushe@gmail.com

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