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Professional Icons

step 1
We're going to be making icons here, so we want to start off with the largest icon (maybe a 48x48 icon) and scale down from there. First, start off by creating a document of 100x100 pixels in size (so there's extra room if you need it). Make the background white (FFFFFF) or whatever, but keep in mind that in the end it will remain transparent, so just hide that layer later or whatever.
step 2
Okay, step two: create the base of your icon. This icon is going to be Earth, so choose your Elliptical Marquee Tool with these settings and click in the middle of your document somewhere, doesn't matter if it's off center or something. Make a new layer, “water”, and fill it in with a dark blue such as 1266BA.
step 3
Now we have to add some continents to it. Choose the Polygon Lasso Tool with these settings. Click around and make some shapes that look like continents. Try to make it look like something kind of believable though (obviously), because the more it looks like Earth, the better (we're making Earth, remember?).
step 4
Now make a new layer, “land”, and fill that selection in with a dark green such as 008100. Now CTRL + Click (Hold the CTRL key and click on layer “water” in the Layers Palette) and click on the layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers Palette to make the continents only show up over the circle, and so they don't go off the planet (as continents don't usually do that...).
step 5
Now, I mean, that technically is your Earth, right? But why settle for less? Create a new layer “shine” and grab your Gradient Tool with these settings. Zoom in to about 500% (CTRL + “+/=” Key about 3 or 4 times), and click towards the upper left-hand corner of your planet and drag your mouse down about one millimeter and it should lighten up your planet a bit. After further examination of this layer, I personally, put the transparency of this layer (“shine”) down to 75%. 100% was just too bright for me. It's whatever you like though.
step 6
Okay, to spiff (is that a word?) up your image further, let's make another layer and call it “glow”. Use the same Gradient tool, but put the tool's (not layer “glow”'s -- keep that at 100%) transparency from 75% to about 50%, depending on what you think would look best. Now, click in the same spot you did for your previous gradient, but this time drag your mouse diagonal down-right the bottom right-hand edge of your planet. Set this layer's Blending Mode to Overlay, and there you have it. It shines nicely as though the sun shines upon it brightly.
step 7
Now, for some final touches, feel free to add some effects such as an Inner Glow and maybe an Inner Shadow, and then also maybe a manual shadow under it (use the Elliptical Marquee Tool and fill it with a light gray).
thank you for reading
Good luck with your icons; I hope I've helped. Oh, and one other thing: here's an example of another icon you may be able to make using different gradients, shapes using the Polygon Lasso Tool, and other cool effects that you learned from reading this tutorial... maybe something like this. Thanks For Reading.

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