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Tutorial: Create soft glassy buttons

Written by · Created on Jul 06, 2007, last updated over 13 years ago CC BY-NC License
Create soft glassy buttons


This tutorials shows you how to create a soft and glassy / glossy button.

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    Create a new file: 150×35 px. White background. Activate the gradient-tool (L). Now choose #005a71 as primary (foreground) color. Use #00eaff as background-color. Drag the gradient from inside the upper edge of the image to the bottom: cname the layer: “Gradient”. I named it “Farbverlauf” which is the german word for gradient.

  2. 2

    Create a new transparent layer. Name it “Glass”.

    Choose white as foreground color. In the preferences of the gradient-tool use the drop-down and choose the “Foreground to Transparent”-gradient (the 4th one). Make a gradient again on this layer from top to bottom.

  3. 3

    Take the Rectangle Selection-Tool and make a new selection starting from the bottom left as seen on the image below.

  4. 4

    Cut this part by pressing DEL or (CTRL+K if you still use GIMP 2.2).

    - Selection / None to deselect all.

  5. 5

    Next we create a small little border. Add a new layer, fill it totally black. Name it “Border” or “Rahmen” as i did in the picture.

  6. 6

    Press CTRL+A to select all, then go to SELECTION / SHRINK: 1px.

    Remove the selected part and a border should remain.

  7. 7

    Add a new layer again (transparent). Name it “Desaturate” (i called it “entfärben”).

    Now activate the Gradient-Tool again. Make sure the “Foreground to Transparent”-Option is still selected in the preferences.

    Use black as foreground-color. Drag the gradient again from top to bottom, but this time a bit below the bottom edge/border of the image (into the gray space).

  8. 8

    On the same layer do the same gradient but from right to left, again a little bit into the gray space of the left image border.

    At the end only little blue to the bottom left should shine through.

  9. 9

    Now press CTRL+L to view the layers dialog or go to Dialog / Layers. Set the layers mode to “Saturate” – in the image its called “Sättigung”.

    This mode makes all parts of the layers below gray (all parts that are filled with the black on this layer).

  10. 10

    The button should look like this now:

  11. 11

    Now take the text-tool and write any text to the layer. Move the text to the left corner.

    The text layer has to be below the black “Saturate”-layer.

    Activate the “Border”-layer and set the transparency of this layer to 20%.

  12. 12

    Now we’re making the whole button a little nicer.

    - Edit / Copy visible
    - Edit / Paste

    Then press the add layer button to get the pasted on a new layer.

  13. 13

    - Colors / Brightness & Contrast: -20 / +30

  14. 14

    You’re done ;) If you want to test some other colors do it the fast way →

    - Add layer
    - Fill with your preferred color
    - set Layer mode to “Color”.

    A little tip: The buttons look best on white background with a very slight black shadow.


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solensdatter2 member for over 11 years solensdatter2 15 comments
over 11 years ago

Hi! Here are some GIMP Inspirations for Christmas Cards :)

over 13 years ago

Those who got a little stuck on part 6 like me, this is what I found worked...
click on the new layer, add a rectangle over the previous image, use the fuzzy select tool to select the rectangle then go to select in the tool bar (top of screen) then click on shrink (1px)then press delete. This way worked for me.
Thanks for the tutorial... slowly getting there with GIMP.

over 13 years ago

I think the method I use is so much easier than most -

Far rated this topic with 4/5
almost 14 years ago

Nice tutorial.
Great Work.

batman rated this topic with 5/5
about 14 years ago

Did you try Cool Button Designer? You can make a glossy, plastic and other cool looking buttons in few minutes. Photoshop or illustrator is not required. You can control the light, color of the light, position size, shadows. Pretty cool program for those who is looking to create a professional looking button. Just decided to share it, cause I am using it for my GUI interface.
Here is the link at cnet:

gimp_erin member for about 14 years gimp_erin 2 comments rated this topic with 4/5
about 14 years ago

Awesome! Thanks so much!
For the border part, you could right click on the image choose select, then choose border, a small window should pop-out and type 1 px. click OK then you have you border. <- Hope this helps.

over 14 years ago

Great tutorial !

I personnally also apply a gaussian blur (5x5) effect to the glass layer after the bottom part is cleared (between step 4 and 5). This makes the transition softer (just my own opinion).

over 14 years ago

step 6: remove selected border. Your tutorial doesn't mention how to do that. I right clicked on the "border" layer and selected "remove alpha channel" and got the results. I think that this is correct.

Hope this helps someone.

almost 15 years ago

Thank you! Very useful

ShockwaveLover member for over 15 years ShockwaveLover 7 comments
about 15 years ago

Awesome. Easy to follow, and the fact that the screenshots include the layer display is very helpful.

Dilyn Corner
about 15 years ago

I can't quite seem to get the text to look like yours? I've checked the layers order over and over, reread the directions, etc., but I still can't get the text to look like yours. It's just a sold black, instead of saturated near the top. The rest looks just like it should, except for the text.

content_writer member for about 15 years content_writer 5 comments
about 15 years ago

After carefully looking at all the menus and checking all the drop downs, I came up with the workaround listed above. I should have checked Youtube first, before posting my comment here. For future reference, you just simply click on the gradient swatch for a hidden menu. Sorry if I confused anyone.

content_writer member for about 15 years content_writer 5 comments
about 15 years ago

Step 2: "Choose white as foreground color. In the preferences of the gradient-tool use the drop-down and choose the "Foreground to Transparent"-gradient (the 4th one). Make a gradient again on this layer from top to bottom."

I use Gimp 2.6.4 in Windows Vista, and I couldn't find that option. I created a workaround. Simply make a gradient in the "glass" layer, as devvv indicated, in normal mode. Then add a layer mask [right-click glass layer / Add layer mask / make sure the white (full opacity) option is selected and click on Add]. Finally create a white-black gradient (white on the top) on the layer mask you just created...whew, a lot of steps for a lost function but Gimp 2.6 users can carry on to step 3.

over 15 years ago

Awesome.. :)

over 15 years ago

NICE TUTORIAL MAN, help me a lot.. thanks :-)

almost 16 years ago

Great work! Thanks a lot. Now I can make nice buttons for my homepage.

devvv member for over 17 years devvv 1475 comments
over 16 years ago

yes there are lots of differences between 2.2 and 2.4.

take a look into our downloads section. if you're using windows xp/vista gimp 2.4 rc1 is the latest version for you, if you're using linux or ubuntu gimp 2.4 rc2 is the latest at the moment.

over 16 years ago

Very good tutorial I had only one problem in the 3. I couldn't use rectangle selection tool I could always select always only a littler area just 30×13 px and I dont know why I use GIMP 2.2 and sometimes I found not the sames thing in the Dialog boxes like in the tutorials and sometimes the shortcouts are not the same. It is because of the diference between GIMP 2.2 and GIMP 2.3 or GIMP 2.4 or not isn't it? How could I update to version 2.3 or 2.4? I must reinstal the whole program or is there a easier way? Thanks for the answers! a lot


almost 17 years ago

I can Study