Designing a fresh new icon having the familiar “aqua” effect is easier than you think – if you use proper tools. To create an icon from scratch, a professional, lightweight and easy icon editor such as IconLover 5 (aha-soft.com) is all you really need.
For an instance, 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. By the way, you can always save 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 one of the Transparency presets, define your new icon’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball has to be fully opaque. In the same way, you can specify background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep the background transparent for now.
To draw 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. With your left mouse button down, move the mouse cursor 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 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 tons of those 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 altogether by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Keep all sliders and values 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 settings. There are multiple settings 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 adding a drop-down shadow! To apply a shadow effect to your icon, click “Drop shadow” from the Effects menu. You can stick to defaults, or adjust 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 surface.
To embed 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 checked. 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 appears to be in 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!