Drawing a fresh new image having the famous “aqua” effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. To create an image from scratch, a professional, lightweight and easy icon editor such as IconLover 5 (aha-soft.com) is all you really need.
For example, let us make an aqua-style icon for “Add”, a glass ball with a “plus” sign in it. To start, you’ll need to draw a circle of a chosen color. Select the color from the Color properties menu. By the way, you can always save a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes really handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.
With the Transparency bar or one of the Transparency presets, set your new icon’s transparency. For this tutorial, the ball has to 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 your chosen color, select the Filled Ellipse tool by clicking the Filled Ellipse button in the Tools menu, which is on the left of the drawing area. With your left mouse button down, move the mouse cursor 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 add some special effects. There are tons of those built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency channels, and of course, the famous ‘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 add an artist’s touch and make your icon truly unique. Go back to that Aqua dialog and have a look at the settings. There are plenty of values available to adjust, allowing you to draw 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 dimension to your new icon. While glowing and shiny, it still looks like a button rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by adding a drop-down shadow! To add a shadow effect to the icon, click “Drop shadow” from the Effects menu. You can use the defaults, or tweak the values around to get a flat button, a lens, or a ball. The look depends on the size of the shadow, its distance from the subject, and the angle at which it falls to the ground.
To add 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 selected. This means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Tweaking the “Use semi-transparency” setting gets 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 designed a crystal ball that matches 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!