This tutorial assumes some previous level of experience with Photoshop. We’ll be using Photoshop CS6, but the principles apply regardless of the version. The first thing you’ll need is to download the coffee cup reference photo. We are going to trace it for this icon tutorial.
1. Start with a 600×600 Photoshop Document. (FILE | NEW | 600×600 @ 72dpi)
2. Let’s fill it with a VERY subtle gradient to make it just a little more visually appealing. Select your gradient tool and make a new gradient that fades from #D7D7D7 to #E8E8E8. (Incidentally, for anyone who cares, #E8E8E8 is my favorite shade of light gray. 🙂 ) Now fill the background layer with a Linear Gradient fading from lighter at the top to darker at the bottom. This might seem pointless, and not much of a change from solid white, but these subtle touches will make all the difference in the end – trust me.
3. Download the coffeecup.jpg image, and copy it onto your new document. We are going to use this to trace out the shapes and shading for your icon.
5. Now switch to your PATH palette, hold down COMMAND and select the thumbnail for the path you just created in the paths palette. Switch back to your layer palette, create a new layer called “Cup Outside” and fill the selection with a custom gradient. Switch to the Gradient Tool, and create a new gradient made up of the following colors: 1- Color: #C1C0BC Location: 25% 2- Color: #E8E7E3 Location: 60% 3- Color: white Location: 100%. Your image should like something like this…
6. Switch to the BURN tool, right click on your document and modify the tool size to 110px, and the hardness to 0%. Now set the opacity to about 35% and add a bit of VERY subtle shadow to the bottom of the cup. (See the screen cap above and try to make it look similar.)
7. Create a new layer called “Cup Inside”. Then make an oval to fit the size of the photo and fill with white. At this point, you can delete whatever extra part of the “Cup Outside” layer is visible above the inside of the cup.
8. Make another new layer called “Inside Rim”, hold down command and click on the thumbnail for the “Cup Inside” layer to select it. Then go to SELECT | MODIFY | CONTRACT. Contract the selection by 3 pixels and fill it with the following gradient: 1- Color: #FBFAF6 Location: 0% 2- Color: #C4C5BF Location: 100%. You should now have something similar to the following.
9. NOW FOR THE COFFEE. Create a new layer called “Coffee”. Hold down the Command Key and click the “Inside Rim” layer to select it. In your coffee layer, fill the selection with a nice dark coffee color, like Color: #02060b. Then nudge your “Coffee” layer down to how full you want your coffee cup to be.
12. With the “Coffee” layer selected, go to FILTER | BLUR | GAUSSIAN BLUR and set the blur to 1.5 Pixels
14. Create a new layer underneath all other layers, but above the reference coffee cup image. Make sure you have the reference image visible, and then create an Ellipse selection to trace the bottom piece under the cup and fill with Color: #C3C2BE. Use your BURN tool set with an opacity of 35% to shade this bottom piece, as seen below.
15. Use your Pen Tool to trace the shape of the handle. Create a new layer called “Handle”, switch to your PATHS palette and Command-click the path to create a selection from it. Switch back to your Layers Palette, select your “Handle” layer and fill the selection with solid white.
17. Create a new layer underneath all other layers (except your Reference Layer) and call it “Shadow”. Roughly trace the shadow of the cup with your pen tool and make a selection from the path as you have in previous steps. Fill it with Color: #7B7B7B Gaussian Blur: 5.0px. Now get yourself a HUGE eraser, like 400px with Opactiy: 50% and use it to fade the shadow out as it appears in the reference photo and the image below.
TINY BUBBLES – the Devil’s in the details
18. Create a new Layer Called “Bubble”, select a tiny circle, and fill with 100% Black. Then change layer opacity to MULTIPLY and Opacity: 35% and add Inner SHADOW AND COLOR OVERLAY styles as shown below.
19. Now Duplicate the layer a few times using COMMAND+J and make MORE BUBBLES like they’re going out of styles. Make sure they aren’t all the same size by Pressing Control+T when a bubble layer is selected and then resizing. Try and keep the placement and sizing as convincing as possible. If you’re having trouble, pour yourself a cup of real coffee and watch how the small air bubbles stick to the sides of the cup. If someone walks in on you staring at your cup, just tell them your working and to go away. 🙂
20. VOILA! a coffee Starbucks would be proud of!