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Creating a Modern, Glossy Mouse Icon in Photoshop

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Read Time: 7 min

This tutorial is about creating the Apple Magic Mouse in Photoshop, though you could use these techniques to create other mouse icon design styles as well. The new design of this mouse just looks amazing. Creating it and using it as an icon makes it all that more fun and interesting. The glossy look and the simplicity, transforms this mouse into a really neat looking icon. This tutorial will challenge intermediate level Photoshop user, so let's get started!

Final Image Preview

Take a look at the image we'll be creating. 

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Photoshop CS3
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1-2 hours


To create this icon we will mostly use the Brush Tool (B), and for adding shadows and lights the same Brush Tool (B) and sometimes the Burn and Dodge Tools (O). For defining the curved shapes you will use the Pen Tool (P) that will give you the most precise shapes.

After you are done with the creation of this mouse, you will be taken through the steps of creating the ICNS file or ICO file.

Step 1

First of all start by creating a new document by pressing Command + N and chose a width and height of 1000 px. Because the mouse will be created using white and black colors you will need to give the background of the document a color that will help you work better - in this case red was chosen.

Step 2

Next we'll start to create the two principal shapes. We'll add details over them later on.

First, create the upper shape using the Pen Tool (P), then make sure you have created a new layer. Now transform the Pen Path into a selection by pressing Command + Return and fill the selection with white as shown.

Step 3

And now that the upper part of the mouse has been created, you need to create the lower part. First create a new layer and place it below the white shape you just created, as this shape will be the support of the white shape. Use the Pen Tool (P) again to create the shape and fill the selection with #141414.

The Opacity of the white shape has been decreased so you can see what is going on behind it.

Step 4

Now that the actual shape of the mouse had been defined you will have to start adding details (shadows and lights).

Start working on the lower part of the mouse. Use the Dodge Tool (O) first and add some light like as shown.

Step 5

Double-click the black shape layer to enter the Blending Options menu and add a soft black stroke as shown.

Step 6

Duplicate the layer, but without the stroke you just created in Step 5. Use the Burn Tool (O) this time and start making the shape darker in some areas.

Step 7

Use the Pen Tool (P) next and create a 1px black stroke like below. Erase the right edge of the stroke to make it fade out.

Step 8

You have now finished working on the lower part of the mouse. Now it is time to start working on the upper part.

First of all, create some shapes to help you know how to section the shape. Use the Pen Tool (P) and create a shape like below. Now create a new layer and fill the layer with #929292.

Step 9

Create another shape again using the Pen Tool (P). After you create the path, make sure you create a new layer and fill the selection with #6d6d6d.

Step 10

Next add a simple shadow below the mouse using the black brush set to soft.

Step 11

Start adding the details on the upper part of the mouse, starting from the bottom section. Use the Burn and Dodge Tools (O) to create the shadows and lights.

Step 12

The next step is to add some texture to the bottom part because this section is created using a different plastic material than the upper sections. First create a new layer and fill it with white. Now go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use the settings below.

Set the layer to Screen and 30% Opacity.

Make a selection around the shape you are applying the texture by holding the Command key and clicking on the layers thumbnail. Now invert the selection and erase the excess noise.

Create a mask, and using the black brush set to a low Opacity, erase parts of the noise to make it blend in.

Step 13

Use the Pen Tool (P) and create a new shape like below. Fill the shape with #373737.

Step 14

Next create a new layer above the layer in Step 13. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a 1px white stroke as shown. Erase the edges and some areas using the Eraser Tool (E). Set the layer to 80% Opacity.

Step 15

Now it is time to create the middle section of the mouse. I call it the Glossy Strip.

This section is made out of a different material and you will use different techniques to create it. First of all the layer is too dark and you need to make it lighter gray. Do this using the Dodge Tool (O. For creating those two shadows on the sides use the Burn Tool (O).

Step 16

Create another white stroke just as you did in Step 14.

Step 17

Create two nice looking reflections on the shape by creating two strokes into a new layer using the Brush Tool (B). Then go to Filter > Distort > Wave, and play with the settings there until you obtain the same result as shown below. Do not use the same settings you see in the image below, as the result might not look the same. Instead, try to play with the settings and experiment.

Step 18

Now that you have created your reflection add a mask. Use the black brush inside the mask to hide the edges of the shape. Set the layer to 46% Opacity.

Duplicate the layer and set it to 20% Opacity and Multiply. The difference is not very obvious, but what this does is make the reflection a little more visible.

Step 19

Create another reflection. Follow the same steps or maybe just duplicate the layer and place it in the right position.

Step 20

Next create a glossy effect in front of the shape. Do this by creating a white shape like below using the Pen Tool (P).

Use the Eraser Tool (E) on the edges to make it blend in.

Step 21

Now that you are done with the sections below it is time to work on the last part of this tutorial. First use the Burn Tool (O) over the white part to add some shadow.

Step 22

Use the Pen Tool (P) and create a shape like below, then fill the layer with black.

Set the layer to Multiply and Opacity to 8%.

Step 23

Use the Pen Tool (P) again to create a 1px white stroke over the lower edges of the shape. Erase the edges of the stroke using the Eraser Tool (E).

Step 24

Create a dark gray stroke on the top of the shape, then use the Eraser Tool (E) again on the edges.

In the end add the Apple logo over mouse and you are finished.

Creating the Icon

If you have a Mac the best way to create your icons is using the Icon Composer that Apple is giving away for free over at the Developer Page on their website. You will also find this app in your developer folder in the OSX installation DVD.

First save your mouse as a transparent PNG file, then import it into Icon Composer. Then simply save it as an ICNS or ICO file. The great thing about Icon Composer is that you can also preview how the icon looks on your dock.


You can view the final image below or view a larger version here.

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