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Painting Icons with Aqua Effect

Creating a brand-new icon having the famous "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. You can draw an image from scratch by only using a free, small and lightweight icon editor.

Designing a fresh new image featuring the famous "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. To create an icon 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. Select the color from the Color properties menu. Just so you know, you can always memorize a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes very handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.

With the Transparency bar or with one of the Transparency presets, define your new icon’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 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. Holding your left mouse button down, move the mouse within the drawing area to create 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 created a circle!

In order for our flat circle to start looking like a crystal ball, we’ll need to add some special effects. There are many of them 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 by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Just keep all sliders 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 properties available to adjust, allowing you to design 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 more 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 use the defaults, or move the settings 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 surface.

To embed 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 ticked. This means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Changing 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 inserted 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!

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