DevHeart Web Design Tutorial: Create a magnifying glass icon

Tutorial: Create a magnifying glass icon

Learn how to create a scalable magnifying glass icon in Photoshop using vector shapes.

Before you start

There are a few things to consider before creating an icon. If the icon is going to be part of a set you’ll want to make sure to setup a few basic guidelines. For example how the icon is being lit, what perspective is being used and what different sizes will be needed.

I recommend reading through the Tango Icon Theme Guidelines or the Echo Icon Guidelines as well as TurboMilks blog post about 10 common mistakes in icon design. Firewheel Designs and Mezzoblues posts about scaling are also worth reading.

The icon that we will be creating is going to be 48×48px, lit from above and use a flat perspective. I will be using Adobe Photoshop and create the icon using vector shapes so that it can be scaled to any size.

Laying down the basic shapes

We’ll start by making the frame that holds the lens. Drag out two guidelines, one horizontal at 24px and one vertical at 24px. (Tip: hold down SHIFT to make the guidelines snap to whole pixels).

Blank Document With Guides

Now select the Ellipse Tool, open the geometry options rollout, type in 28px for both width and height and check “From center”. Draw out the circle in the center of the image where the two guidelines meet. Make sure that it snaps into place so that the path ends up on whole pixels.

Next, duplicate the shape you just created (CTRL+J) and size it down to 22×22 (CTRL+T), this will serve as the lens but we’ll also use its path to cut out the frame. Select the vector mask and copy it (CTRL+C), then paste it (CTRL+V) with the vector mask of the frame layer selected. With the lens path still selected, click the “Subtract From Shape Area”-button.

Lens Shape

For the handle, select the Rounded Rectangle Tool and type in any number higher than 4px for radius. Open the Geometry Options rollout and make sure that “Snap to Pixels” is checked. Draw out a shape that’s 8px high and 30px wide (Tip: keep an eye on the info palette or use the fixed width and height settings). Next, draw a rectangle with the “subtract from shape” button toggled that covers one end of the handle so the final width is roughly 20px wide.

Next, draw a 6px high and 10px wide rectangle that will serve as the part that connects the handle and the frame.

You should have something similar to this:

Basic Shapes

Blending options

Start by selecting the handle and part that connects to the frame and rotate them 45 degrees counter clockwise. Align them using the arrow keys with the move tool selected. Adjust the order of the layers if necessary.

Aligned Shapes

Next, right click the handle-layer and select blending options and add a gradient.

These are the settings I used:

Gradient Options

I changed the angle to 135 degrees and scaled it to 33%, then I added a 1px stroke on the inside with color #8c6e4d.

For the frame I used a gradient ranging from white at the top and 80% grey (#cccccc) at the bottom. The stroke is on the inside and I used 50% grey (#808080). Then I copied the same settings to the part that connects the frame and handle (Tip: Hold ALT and drag and drop the effects layer).

Blending Options Applied

The lens also uses a top to bottom gradient from white at the top and #dbffff at the bottom. This time I used a gradient for the stroke as well from #79c1d3 at the top and white at the bottom.

Final Version

Download Icons + PSD


That’s it! I hope you learned something valuable. Good luck!



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