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Create a stuck in the ground icon


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Create a stuck in the ground icon

Create an icon that is partially under the ground.
Here's what we will be creating:


Let's begin with a new document. Make it 400x400 in size and color the background to white (press D for default colors, X to switch them and ALT+BACKSPACE to fill with white). Now create a layer above the white background and name it shape. Grab the rounded rectangle tool from the tool palette and set these options in the settings panel on the top of the photoshop window:


Press D for default color values and draw a shape like that:


Now press CTRL+T to activate the transformation mode and rotate this shape counterclockwise by to fixed steps. Don't get confused by the previous sentence - it's easy: move the mouse outside of the selection area until the rotation cursor appears, left-click, hold the SHIFT button and move the mouse to the top until the shape rotates twice. It will not rotate smoothly because with the SHIFT key on the rotation is performed in fixed degree intervals. So after the rotation your shape should look like this:


Press ENTER to apply. Now right-click on the shape layer and select Rasterize layer. This converts our vector shape to a rasterised layer. From now on we won't be able to upsize, downsize or rotate this shape as smoothly as it was possible when it was a vector. But we don't need to do any of that so let's treat it like a normal layer. Next thing to do is grab the gradient tool from the tool palette and use these settings:


Lock the transparent pixels of the shape layer by pressing the lock transparent pixels button img/ps_btn_lockpixels.jpg in the layers panel. Now draw a vertical gradient from top to bottom while holding SHIFT key to make it a straight line. That's what you should get:


Unlock the transparent pixels by pressing the same button as you pressed when locking them again. Create a new layer on top of everything else and name it highlight. Take the elliptical marquee tool from the tool palette and draw a selection like this:


Grab the gradient tool from the tool palette and use a white to transparent gradient:


Once again, draw a gradient from the top of the selection to the bottom to get this highlight:


There are some parts of the highlight that we need to get rid of. If you disable the white background layer, you'll see that this highlight is actually bigger than it looks. To get rid of the parts outside the shape, CTRL+CLICK on the shape layer's thumbnail. Doing that will select the entire shape. Make sure you have the highlight layer selected, because we will be deleting a part of this layer that is outside of the shape. Now we have our shape selected so by pressing DEL we would delete a part of the highlight that is on the shape. But that's exactly what we need to keep, not delete. So let's invert the selection by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+I and we can now press the DEL key safely, because now everything except the shape itself is selected. Note: you won't see much of a difference, because you still have the white background and it doesn't matter if there's a white gradient on it or not - you can't still see a white on a white. So to checked if it worked, disable the background layer and there should be no gradient outside of the shape. If we only needed to draw a highlight like this, we could've done that easier, but we need to make another thing with it: once again CTRL+CLICK the shape layer. Now go to Select > Modify > Contract ... and contract it by 2 pixels. Now invert the selection (CTRL+SHIFT+I) and press DEL. This will delete the top edges of the highlights layer and it will no longer look as if it was starting from the very top:


At least for me it looks better if i decrease the opacity of highlights layer to about 70% so go ahead and try that. Finally leave it at the value that looks best for you. Now create a new layer above the shape and name it icon. This is where we'll put some symbol. Grab the custom shape tool from the tool palette and select these settings:


If you don't see the tick shape in your shapes list, click the little triangle in the top right corner:


When a popup menu appears, select All from the list and all the shapes should be loaded. Now set the foreground color to white and draw the tick while holding the SHIFT key to constrain its proportions:


Press CTRL+T and apply the same rotation as you applied with the shape: hold SHIFT and drag up until the shape rotates twice counterclockwise. Then grab the move tool from the tool palette and position the tick somewhere in the middle of the shape:


Double-click the icon layer and add a little depth by applying the following layer styles:



Here's what the result should be:


If you used a highly different size of the document, you'll need to tweak the above layer styles to match it. Let's add some dark areas to the shape now. Create a new layer above the shape layer and name it darken or something like that. Now go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. This will convert the current layer to a clipping mask of a shape layer. That means whatever you draw on the darken layer will only be visible if it's within the contents of the shape layer. So if you tried to draw somewhere outside the rotated rectangle, it would simply be not visible because of the clipping mask. But if you tried to draw in the same place where the rectangle is, it would draw like on a normal layer. This enables us quickly paint over some areas of our rectangle, but if we screw something up, we can simply delete everything on the darken layer and the rectangle itself won't be affected at all. So grab a big soft round airbrush and set its opacity to about 5%. Darken some areas on the bottom right part of the rectangle by patiently drawing on the darken layer:


If you disabled the clipping mask on the darken layer, you'd see black brush strokes outside of the rectangle, but with a clipping mask enabled, these unwanted areas are not visible. OK time to stick this shape into the ground. First, let's finalize it by selecting all the layers except the white background and pressing CTRL+E to merge them into a single layer. Name this layer shape if the name is different. Now add a layer mask to it by pressing the layer mask button in the layers panel. A layer mask thumbnail should appear next to the preview thumbnail:


We need this to "delete" the bottom part of our icon. Actually we will be hiding it instead of deleting. If you don't know what a layer mask is, read my non destructive deletion with layer masks tutorial. OK make sure that the mask is selected (there should be a black border around the mask thumbnail to indicate selection like in the picture above). Now grab a rectangular marquee tool from the tool palette and draw a selection like this:


Press D to default color values and ALT+BACKSPACE to fill the selection with black. Now the part of the rectangle covered by the selection is gone:


If you're wondering why there's no black fill, well ... there is - on a layer mask and not on the layer itself. I'm not going to explain how this works since i've given you a link where all of this is explained in detail. It's time to add some shadows. Create a new layer below the shape and name it shadow below 1. Now grab the elliptical marquee tool from the tool palette and draw a very thin elliptical selection like this:


Fill it with black (D, ALT+BACKSPACE). Deselect with CTRL+D and align the black ellipse with the bottom of the rectangle:


Create a new layer above or below the shadow below 1 and name it shadow below 2. Draw a slightly bigger elliptical selection:


Fill it with black again and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur ... to give it a ~2.5 pixel blur. Once again, align the ellipse with the rectangle. Set the opacity to about 70%. That's what you should get:


Now add a little bit of dark glow to the rectangle itself by double-clicking on a shape layer and adding an outer glow like this:


The result should now look similar to this one:


One last thing to do is add another shadow. Now this part is purely fictional because there's probably no way a shadow could be casted like this (unless there's some object we don't see, casting the shadow), but at least for me it the icon looks better with that last shadow. So create a new layer (name it shadow above) above everything else and draw an elliptical selection like this:


Fill it with black. Now we need to blur it a little but since we're too lazy to select Gaussian Blur from menu, we'll just press CTRL+F to repeat the last-used filter (you guessed - Gaussian Blur) 2 or 3 times (whatever looks better for you):


Once again we need to leave only the part of the shadow that's over the rectangular shape. We'll do it in two steps. First: CTRL+CLICK the shape layer's thumbnail to load its selection, press CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert and DEL to delete. Unfortunately, this does not get rid of the entire unwanted shadow:


If we had deleted the bottom part of the shape, this operation would've deleted all the unwanted areas of the shadow. But instead of deleting, we masked the buttom part of the shape which means it's still there, but it's hidden. That's why when you try to load the selection of this layer, it loads an entire shape even though a part of it is "deleted". To fix this, we need to load the selection of the layer mask. So CTRL+CLICK the mask thumbnail of the shape layer and it should select everything except a small rectangle on the bottom of the shape. Press CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert and DEL to delete. And now we have the shadow only where we want it:


Finally, change the opacity of the shadow above layer to about 30% and you'll have the final image:

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