Designing a brand-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, 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 chosen color. Pick the color 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 icons.
Using the Transparency bar or with one of the Transparency presets, define 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 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 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 those 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 managed quite easily altogether by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Just keep all sliders and values 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 multiple values available to tweak, allowing you to design 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 button rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by throwing 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 tweak the values 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 checked. 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.
That’s it! 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!