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Creating Icons with Aqua Effect

Drawing a fresh new icon featuring the familiar "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 easy icon editor.

Drawing a brand-new icon having the familiar "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. To draw 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 draw an aqua-style icon to represent "Add", a glass ball with a "plus" sign in it. First, you’ll need to draw a circle of a chosen color. Select the color you want from the Color properties menu. By the way, you can always memorize a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes really handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.

Using the Transparency bar or with one of the Transparency presets, set your new image’s transparency. For this tutorial, the ball will be fully opaque. Similarly, you can specify 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 icon in the Tools menu, which is on the left of the drawing area. Holding your left mouse button down, move the mouse cursor 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 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 them built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency channels, 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 add a reflection and a shadow to the circle. This can be done quite easily by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Keep all sliders at their current positions 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 settings. There are plenty of values 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 like a button rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by throwing a drop-down shadow! To apply a shadow effect to your icon, click "Drop shadow" from the Effects menu. You can use the defaults, or tweak the values around by getting 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 ticked. This box 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.

That’s it! 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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