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Basic Icons for Vista
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 Basic Icons for Vista

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Painting Icons with Aqua Effect

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

Drawing a fresh new icon featuring the renowned "aqua" effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. To create an image from scratch, a professional, small 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 certain color. Pick the color you want from the Color properties menu. Just so you know, 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 images.

Using the Transparency bar or one of the Transparency presets, define your new image’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball has to 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 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 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!

To add volume and dimension to the flat circle, we’ll need to apply some special effects. There are tons of those built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency channels, and of course, the famous ‘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 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 look at the properties. There are multiple values available to tweak, allowing you to create 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 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 move the values around to get a flat button, a lens, or a ball. The effect 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 invoke 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 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 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!

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Download Basic Icons for Vista

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