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Making Images with Aqua Effect

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

Drawing a fresh new image featuring the famous "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. To draw 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 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 save 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 with one of the Transparency presets, set your new image’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball has to be fully opaque. Similarly, you can set background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll leave the background transparent for now.

To draw a circle of selected 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. Holding the 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!

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 them 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 draw 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 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 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 volume 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 your icon, click "Drop shadow" from the Effects menu. You can use the defaults, or tweak the settings 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 ground.

To embed 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 box means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Adjusting 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 drawn a crystal ball that matches 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!

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