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DESIGN USABILITY

Creating Aqua Style Images


Anyone that has used a Mac running OSX will have seen Aqua style icons in action. Aqua is the name of the default theme of OSX and presents a visual style with a kind of liquid, glossy effect. Aqua style icons look very nice and convey an image of style and professionalism, but needn't be that hard to create, being composed primarily of transparency layers and lighting effects.

Author Info:
By: Dan Wellman
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 10
November 08, 2006
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Creating Aqua Style Images
  2. · Getting started
  3. · Using the wand and lighting effects
  4. · Add a drop shadow

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Creating Aqua Style Images
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Some of you may also have used Widgets (Yahoo! Widgets) before. These are small desktop-based applications that began life solely on the Mac, but have now moved over to the Windows platform as well. Widgets are great and are very easy to create and maintain.  They are often constructed in Photoshop and then coded using a combination of JavaScript and XML. Because they originated on the Mac and therefore were Aqua-based, many developers still choose to give their Widgets this smooth, visually appealing look. 

Since creating an Aqua-themed image in Photoshop, and then using this as the foundation for building your widget is seen as an excellent way to develop Widgets, there are some scripts that you can run within Photoshop to generate the appropriate XML files that make your Widget run. Let's get the imaging done first and we’ll come back to one of these scripts near the end of the article.

I said in a previous article that there were already some great articles available that discuss Aquifying images, and there are; however, none of these are aimed at using the resulting image for a widget. They therefore use shapes that are less common as the backdrop for mini desktop applications. There are also several different methods for creating the Aqua effect, so I thought that another article that demonstrates another method would give people more choice in how they decide to apply the Aqua style depending on their requirements.


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