Tutorial: Making Buttons in PSP

by Eddie Hicks

Start a new image and make it around 300 by 300 pixels or larger if you like to work with bigger images, making the first layer a raster layer. To begin I chose a dark color to start my button. I drew a circle using only the fill of my color with the circle shape. The actual finished button will be lighter than the color I chose.

I then added a second layer and created a small circle with the circle shape to make the first of 4 button holes. This circle I made white but the color doesn't matter, we will be deleting them later. Make one then select it.

Copy and paste 3 more, or 1 more if you want to make a 2 hole button, and arrange them as so.

Before cutting out my button holes I chose to add a gradient to the button. Choose the first layer and add a gradient in a circle shape with a lighter color fading out to transparent. Make sure to off set the center to where you "light" would be hitting it. Notice the off set in the tool box.

Select your circle in the first layer and add the gradient with the fill tool.

Go back to your layer with the 4 white circles and select them. Once they are selected leave them selected and click your first layer with the button in it.

This will pass the selection to that layer and you can delete the 4 holes from the button simply by hitting your delete key. Keep in mind that the white circles will still be on the second layer and you need to select it and delete those as well.

Now you have a button that looks a bit domed but not quite. The holes aren't 3D! Lets fix that next. Add another layer and move it under your layer wth the button on it. Click your button layer and select the button with your selection tool. Then click the 3rd raster layer and add a drop shadow to it. Instead of black choose the color you first began with and make it a bit darker and then make the shadow at the setting shown below. Changing the xy offsets will make your button look thicker or thinner depending.

Now that you have added the shadow you will notice that the bottom left edge isn't looking like a button at all. We need to get rid of that. CLick the eye and make the button layer (layer 1) invisible. You will now see 4 small half moons and the large half moon we want to get rid of. Select the shadow layer (layer 3) and delete the larger moon using the freehand selection tool.

Make your button visible again by clicking the eye and there we go, the button is starting to take a good shape. At this point you could bevel the button layer....

...or keep it as is.
Now we want to add a small touch to really bring out the 3d of the button. We are gonna add a gradient to the small half moons in the button holes. Choose a gradient, use the lighter color as the first gradient we did and make it look like so...

Select and fill each moon with the gradient individually. A tip on selecting them individually is to use your freehand lasso and roughly outline it then just click once on the object and it will select it exactly. Then you can fill it. After that merge your button layer with your holes shadow layer, by right clicking on the button layer and "merge down".

Here we go. A very nice button.

If your button still doesn't look quite "thick" enough on the dome. Add a gradient of a darker color to transparent and circle gradient fill it on another layer above your button layer.

Now add a layer for the black drop shadow. Select the button and click the shadow layer that you just made to pass the selection to it. Add a drop shadow at about 7/7 opacity 80 and a blur of 20.

If you went the beveled route you will end up with this version....

Now you can even make your new button a tube by merging down your layers into one and exporting it as a picture tube using File>Export>Picture tube. Now you can make your button different sizes without the need of remaking it again and again. And for a quick button color changer just use your change to target brush for any number of colored buttons.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. For a final tip you can make flat buttons with this same tutorial by leaving out the gradient fills (except for the button holes) and leaving in that large half moon we deleted before ( add a gradient fill to it like the small moons).

For a printable copy click here.

© 2005 Eddie Hicks

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