Drawing a brand-new image having the renowned “aqua” effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. To create 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 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. 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.
With the Transparency bar or with one of the Transparency presets, define your new image’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball will be fully opaque. Similarly, you can set background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll leave 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 the left mouse button down, move the mouse within the drawing area to create 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 painted a circle!
To add volume and dimension to the flat circle, we’ll need to add some special effects. There are many of them 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 managed 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 have some fun and make your icon truly unique. Go back to that Aqua dialog and have a look at the properties. There are multiple properties available to adjust, allowing you to draw 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 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 adding a drop-down shadow! To add a shadow effect to the icon, click “Drop shadow” from the Effects menu. You can stick to defaults, or adjust the values around to get 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 surface.
To embed the ‘plus’ sign into the image, 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 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 embedded into the ball.
Voila! You’ve just designed 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!