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, small 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 to represent “Add”, a glass ball with a “plus” sign in it. To start, you’ll need to draw a circle of a chosen color. Pick the color you want 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 images.
With the Transparency bar or with one of the Transparency presets, define your new image’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 make a circle of your chosen 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 the left mouse button down, move the mouse within the drawing area to draw an ellipse. The ellipse changes its size as you move the mouse. To create a perfectly round circle, hold Shift while drawing. That’s it, you have just created a circle!
To add volume and dimension to the flat circle, we’ll need to add some special effects. There are many of those built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency masks, and of course, the famous ‘glass reflection’ look employed by the aqua effect.
To make 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. Keep all sliders at their defaults 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 properties. There are plenty of properties available to adjust, allowing you to create something never seen before. Go ahead and move the sliders to see how your icon can look!
As a final touch, let’s add some dimension 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 adding 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 move 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 add the ‘plus’ sign into the icon, click on the Text tool icon in the left Tools menu or press “T” to invoke 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 assigns your text the same level of transparency your primary color has. Type “+”, and you’ll get the ‘plus’ sign inserted into the ball.
That’s it! You’ve just created 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 few minutes of your time. Easy!