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Painting Images with Aqua Effect

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

Creating a fresh new image having the familiar "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 for "Add", a glass ball with a "plus" sign inside. First, you’ll need to draw a circle of a certain 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 very handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.

With the Transparency bar or by using one of the Transparency presets, set your new icon’s transparency. For this tutorial, the ball has to be fully opaque. Similarly, you can set background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep the background transparent for now.

To draw a circle of selected 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 a perfectly round circle, hold Shift while drawing. That’s it, you have just created a circle!

To add volume and dimension to the flat circle, we’ll need to add some special effects. There are many of those built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency masks, 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. 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 look at the properties. There are multiple settings available to tweak, allowing you to draw 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 use the defaults, or move the settings around by getting 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 icon, 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. 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 inserted 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 few minutes of your time. Easy!

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