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Painting Icons with Aqua Effect

Drawing a brand-new icon featuring the familiar "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. You can design an icon from scratch by only using a free, small and easy icon editor.

Creating a brand-new image having the renowned "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. To draw an icon 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 make an aqua-style icon for "Add", a glass ball with a "plus" sign inside. To start, you’ll need to draw a circle of a certain color. Select the color from the Color properties menu. Just so you know, you can always save a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes very handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.

Using the Transparency bar or one of the Transparency presets, set your new image’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball has to be fully opaque. Similarly, you can specify 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 button in the Tools menu, which is on the left of the drawing area. With the 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 an ideal circle, hold Shift while drawing. That’s it, you have just painted a circle!

In order for our flat circle to start looking like a crystal ball, we’ll need to apply some special effects. There are many of those 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 draw a reflection and a shadow to the circle. This can be done quite easily by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Just keep all sliders at their defaults 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 properties. There are multiple values available to adjust, allowing you to create 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 new icon. While glowing and shiny, it still looks more 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 use the defaults, or adjust the values around to get 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 ground.

To add the ‘plus’ sign into the image, 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. 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 inserted 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 mouse clicks and a few minutes of your time. Easy!

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