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Painting Pictures with Aqua Effect

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

Creating a brand-new image having the renowned "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 draw an aqua-style icon for "Add", a glass ball with a "plus" sign in it. To start, you’ll need to draw a circle of a certain color. Pick the color you want from the Color properties menu. Just so you know, 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.

With the Transparency bar or one of the Transparency presets, set 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. With your 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 an ideal 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 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 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 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 properties. There are multiple values available to adjust, 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 dimension to your new icon. While glowing and shiny, it still looks like a lens rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by throwing a drop-down shadow! To apply a shadow effect to the icon, click "Drop shadow" from the Effects menu. You can stick to defaults, or move the values around to get 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 surface.

To embed the ‘plus’ sign into the image, click on the Text tool icon in the left Tools menu or press "T" to get the text properties window. Make sure the "Image transparency" box is selected. This means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Tweaking 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 created 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!

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