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Google Calendar is one of many apps that runs on the Internet, not on your desktop. I’ll show you how to make your very own desktop icon for Google Calendar and, hopefully, the skills behind creating other similar icons. I hope you enjoy the experience!
There’s no denying that the Internet is going to be a big part of our future of computing. Running applications in the cloud have already become popular, with services such as Google Apps, which we also offer to our clients. Whether you use Google Mail and Google Calendar to help to manage productivity, or social lifestyling apps like Twitter and Facebook, there’s probably a web-based application or two running on your computer throughout the day.
I recently created some icons and released them to the public for free (and hope to be able to release some more soon), one of which was the icon I’ll be showing you to make in this tut. Feel free to go and pick up those icons here.
This guide will walk you through how I created the Google Calendar icon. There’s a total of 41 steps, so it’s a reasonably long tutorial, so feel free to grab a drink before we begin. You’ll be required to spend a few moments at various points in the tut to draw shapes freeform so please, take your time, and enjoy the experience.
Let’s get started!
As always, this is the final image for this tutorial:
To begin, create a new Photoshop file that is 512 pixels by 512 pixels in size like in the snap below.
Let’s start up by making a new layer. Using the Polygonal Lasso tool (L key, or Shift+L to toggle through the Lassos until you get to the one seen in the snapshot) and draw a loose, freeform, angled square. Fill this square with black, either by using the Paint Bucket tool (G on the keyboard.) Deselect your selection with Command+D.
Right click on your new layer in the layers panel, and select “Blending Options‚Ä¶”. Click “Stroke” (the word, not the tick box), found at the bottom of the new panel that will have popped up.
Select the red that’s in that panel, and a Stroke Colour window will pop up. Select black, and OK through both panels that you have up. We want to flatten down this blending option; what I do for speed is to create another layer underneath this layer, select “Layer 1″ again, and hit Command+E (Ctrl+E for PCs) to merge them on top of one another. All Blending Options bake down too.
Using the Polygonal Lasso tool again, create another freeform shape on a new layer (below the current one) in a different colour to simulate a facade to the square that we’ve just made. We’re building up a 3D looking “surface” here, which we’ll put the calendar itself onto. Deselect again.
Make yet another layer, above all the others, and make another freeform shape with the polygonal lasso tool. I know, lots of free shapes. Take your time to get them just how you want them. I’ll wait here while you do it. Make it another colour again, so that we can see what we’re up to on each layer. This is what will eventually become the “Top Page”. Deselect again.
Another layer, another freeform shape with the Polygonal Lasso tool. Make this one underneath the “Top Page” layer, like shown in the image. This will eventually become all of the other pages that are underneath the top one. Again, make sure it’s a different colour, so we can tell what’s going on where, then deselect when you’re done.
At this stage you’ll have 4 layers. Keeping layers tidy early on is a life saver later on, particularly when you work on big pieces like this. In the screenshot above, you can see what I chose to rename each layer. I’d recommend using the same names while you use this tutorial so that you don’t risk getting confused later on.
Using the Polygonal Lasso tool again, make a selection around the top of the “Top Page” layer.
Using shortcuts Command+X then Command+V will cut that section out from that layer, and paste it back into reality on its own new layer. Pop it back to where it was before by using the move tool (V on the keyboard). This bit at the top will eventually become the “bind” that holds each sheet of the calendar in place. Let’s name this layer “Bind”.
Select the “Top Page” layer again, and hit Command+L on the keyboard to bring up your Layers panel. In the Output Levels area at the bottom, grab the black nozzle and drag it along to the right until its integer reads 230. Alternatively, just type 230 into that same box.
Back on the “Bind” layer, bring up those Blending Options again (second click on the layer, “Blending Options‚Ä¶”) and click on Color Overlay from the left-hand column. Pick a colour that you’d like to use for your bind (I chose a desaturated blue, to go with the official Google Calendar icon). HIT OK
Select your “Bind” layer’s pixels by clicking on its image thumbnail from the layers panel while holding down the Command key. With these pixels selected, make a new layer and select the Gradient tool (G on the keyboard, or Shift+G to toggle over to it from the Paint Bucket) and click on the little arrow in the top left corner of your screen next to the Gradient icon. Select the second standard gradient, which runs black to transparent. If it’s not black to transparent as an option, make sure that your colour palette on the right side of your screen has black as the foreground colour. Select this again and black should then become the colour which merges to transparent. Be sure that the Linear gradient is selected (that’s the first one of five options, right next to the drop-down you’ve just used to select your gradient colours). Draw a line from the bottom of the “Bind” to about three-quarters up it, then release. This should give you a gradient like in the image above. It usually takes a few goes to get it exactly how you want it. Call this layer “Bind Gradient”
I set this new “Bind Gradient” layer to “Multiply” with an opacity of 25% like in the image above. This will make the gradient nice and soft, hinting at the bind’s shape.
In a similar way as the Bind layer was created from “Top Page”, we’re going to select pixels from the top of “Bind” to make a highlight to “Bind” itself. Select a thin row of pixels from along the very top of “Bind”. This time we won’t Cut and Paste it back in, though; we’ll instead make the selection and use the Duplicate command (Command+J) to make another instance of the selection above the original. Do this, and use the Levels panel to change the colour to make it lighter than the original “Bind” layer. We’re going to do this again on the bottom of “Bind” too, and make it darker, so that “Bind” looks like the image above. Name these two layers “Bind Highlight” and “Bind Lowlight” respectively.
Like instruction #13, we’re going to use that Gradient tool again. On a new layer, we’ll draw from underneath “Bind” down until about three-quarters the way up “Top Page” with the gradient tool, in a south-east direction along your canvas. This will leave you with a big blob of black on your lovely work, filling the top of your screen, and fading to transparent as it enters the “Surface Top” area. Don’t fret; use the Mask tool (the third icon along at the bottom of your layers panel; looks like a moon in a dark sky) and rub out all of the Gradient that we don’t want by using the Brush tool (B on the keyboard) Selecting Bind like in #13 and rubbing out its contents may speed up the process. Name this new layer “Bind Gradient”.
It’s time to make that “Top Page” look more realistic. Select the pixels of “Top Page” using the polygonal lasso tool, in the same way as in instruction #15, and make a new layer. Using the Brush tool, we’re going to draw in where we want some light shadowing to be. Turning down the opacity of this layer will make the black nice and soft like in the image above. I chose to make some light shading around the edge of the page, and some to emphasise the lifting of the corner. I kept the lifted corner itself completely clear of all this, to make it appear raised. Name this layer “Top Page Shading”
Select the “Top Page” layer and duplicate it (Command+J). Drag the duplicate underneath the original and nudge it down a few pixels from the original using the Move tool (V on the keyboard). Use the Levels panel (Command+L) to make it a little lighter than its original.
We’ve got 12 layers on the go at the moment. Even though I work with hundreds of layers on my bigger pieces, I try to keep the count down if I know I don’t need to go back and change anything. Like in the image above, I flattened all of the “Top Page” layers together, and all of the “Bind” layers together. To do this, select a group of layers you want to flatten together, and hit Command+E to merge them.
Next step, the “Other Page”. Using the Blending Options on the “Other Page” layer, use the Gradient from the left column to make the layer look like the image above. Flatten the blend mode onto the layer like in instruction #4.
Duplicate the new “Other Page” layer, and drag it underneath the original. Using the Levels panel (Command+L), drag the black Input Level over to the right and the white Input Level to the left slightly like in the image above to increase the intensity of the Gradient. Nudge this layer down slightly from the original “Other Page” layer, to reveal the second “Other Page”. The increased intensity of this layer’s Gradient allows the effects of the gradient to be visible in this small space.
With this newly positioned “Other Page” copy, copy it a few times more and continue stacking them slightly below one another like in the image to give the feel of there being multiple calendar pages.
We want to make the “Surface Top” look better, next. Duplicate “Surface Top” and invert it to be white (Levels panel can help out if you didn’t start out with black).
From the menu at the top of Photoshop, select “Filter > Noise > Add Noise‚Ä¶”
Choose how much noise you’d like to use. I chose 58.91% of uniform, monochromatic noise. Noisy.
Select the pixels of the noisy layer. You’ll want to contain this next step, as it leaks all over the place without selections. On top of this new noisy layer, select “Filter > Blur > Motion Blur‚Ä¶” from the top.
In the Motion Blur window, try to get the angle of your blur in line with the angle of Surface Top. set the distance enough to make a wood grain-like pattern. OK to that.
Set this noisy layer to Overlay in the Levels panel. It should basically disappear. Select “Surface Top” and, using Levels panel (Command+L), drag the black Output Level over to the right slightly to make the layer’s pixels off-black. This should reveal your noise again slightly.
Use the Levels panel on your noise layer too, in a similar way to the image above, to focus the histogram on the area of effect.
On the “Surface Top” layer, select the very bottom of the surface with the polygonal lasso tool.
In the Levels panel again, slide the grey input level over to the left slightly to make your selection lighter. You should have a nice little highlight on that edge, now.
Next up, new layer. On this layer, you’ll want to use the Polygonal Lasso tool to make a selection for colouring in. In the image above, you’ll see that I drew a 4×3 grid. This will become the calendar itself. Take your time on this step, and feel free to use multiple layers and flatten them together at the end for accuracy. Make sure your lines are all the same thickness all the way along.
Make a selection around the squares seen in the image above, and make a new layer below the grid that we’ve just created. Fill it with black, then use the Opacity slider in the levels panel to weaken it off.
New layer, above all the others this time. Fill it with a colour of your choice (I went with red, again, to be in line with the official Google Calendar icon).
Select a lighter version of your chosen colour, then select the pixels of the layer. With a suitably sized Brush with no Hardness, click a few times in one spot, to give the square a nice highlight.
Using the Blending Options panel, give this shape an Inner Glow. Go for a Black one with about 25% opacity, with a blend mode of Multiply.
Almost finished now. Time for a bit of polish. Select the Surface Top layer’s pixels, then make a new layer above all the others. Make that brush you were using white, and a bit larger. Click a few times near the centre/top of the Surface Top to make a big white blob. Set the blending mode to Soft Light in the layers panel, and adjust the opacity if you need to, to give some depth to the calendar.
Do the same for the Bind layer. I chose to make this layer “Overlay” in the blend mode, to compliment the blue underneath.
Make a duplicate of the Surface Top layer, and drag it to the bottom of the layers panel. By going “Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur‚Ä¶” we’ll make this layer into a shadow.
Set the Radius to about 8 or 9, then Duplicate this layer a few times on top of itself to make the layer effect stronger.
Flatten the shadow layers together, and you should have yourself a very fine Google Calendar icon.
Voila! You should have your very own Google Calendar icon. More importantly, you should have your very own understanding of how such an icon is pieced together. I truly hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tutorial. Speak soon!
Adam is a web and graphic designer with a passion for design, and runs boutique design firm Fairhead Creative full-time. Fairhead Creative offers creative design solutions to businesses and projects big and small.
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