Designing a brand-new image having the familiar “aqua” effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. To create an image from scratch, a professional, lightweight and simple icon editor such as IconLover 5 (aha-soft.com) is all you really need.
For example, let us draw an aqua-style icon for “Add”, a glass ball with a “plus” sign in it. First, you’ll need to draw a circle of a certain color. Pick the color you want from the Color properties menu. By the way, you can always memorize a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes really handy if you need to draw a matching set of images.
Using the Transparency bar or one of the Transparency presets, set your new image’s transparency. For this tutorial, the ball will be fully opaque. Similarly, you can set background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep the background transparent for now.
To draw a circle of selected color, select the Filled Ellipse tool by clicking the Filled Ellipse icon in the Tools menu, which is on the left of the drawing area. With your left mouse button down, move the mouse within the drawing area to draw an ellipse. The ellipse changes its size and shape as you move the mouse. To create a perfectly round circle, hold Shift while drawing. That’s it, you have just drawn a circle!
To add volume and dimension to the flat circle, we’ll need to apply some special effects. There are many of them built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency masks, and of course, the renowned ‘glass reflection’ look employed by the aqua effect.
To draw an icon matching Apple’s Aqua style, you’ll need to add a reflection and a shadow to the circle. This can be managed quite easily altogether by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Just keep all sliders and values at their current positions for now, and you’ll get a beautiful shiny sphere as a result.
Now let’s have some fun and make your icon truly unique. Go back to that Aqua dialog and have a carefull look at the settings. There are plenty of values available to tweak, allowing you to design something never seen before. Go ahead and tweak the sliders to see how your icon can look!
As a final touch, let’s add some volume to your newly created icon. While glowing and shiny, it still looks like a lens rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by throwing a drop-down shadow! To apply a shadow effect to the icon, click “Drop shadow” from the Effects menu. You can stick to defaults, or tweak the values around by getting a flat button, a lens, or a ball. It all depends on the size of the shadow, its distance from the subject, and the angle at which it falls to the surface.
To embed the ‘plus’ sign into the icon, click on the Text tool icon in the left Tools menu or press “T” to open the text properties window. Make sure the “Image transparency” box is checked. This box means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Changing the “Use semi-transparency” setting assigns your text the same level of transparency your primary color has. Type “+”, and you’ll get the ‘plus’ sign embedded into the ball.
Voila! You’ve just drawn a crystal ball that appears to be in the famous Aqua style! All you needed was a professional icon editor, IconLover 5, a few clicks and a couple of minutes of your time. Easy!