Here’s a beginner Photoshop tutorial that can show you a method of making some custom forum icons.
First thing we’re going to do is create a circular selection with the Elliptical Marquee Tool. Be sure to hold down SHIFT while dragging out your shape.
Now click on the Gradient Tool from the toolbox. Make sure that the “Radial Gradient” option is selected.
Now go to the background and foreground color pickers. Use a white for one, and a dark gray for the other.
Click towards the top of the circle selection and drag down the middle and release. Here is what the radial gradient will look like.
With the circular selection still active, go up to the top menu and choose Select>Modify>Contract Selection. Choose a value of 15 pixels.
Now in this smaller selection, drag another radial gradient except this time start from the bottom and release towards the top.
Select>Modify>Contract Selection once more, but this time shrink it only by a value or 4 pixels.
Press Delete to cut out in the inside. This will leave a metallic ring shape with a nice shaded bevel.
Here’s what it looks like with a solid black background layer beneath the ring.
Now it’s time to create another elliptical marquee selection. This time, don’t hold down shift so that it doesn’t retain a perfect circle. This will allow more of an oval shape to be achieved.
Near the same section where you chose the Radial Gradient in the tool options, you’ll find an area where you can edit the gradient. Click this gradient and the following window should pop up. Choose the Foreground to Transparent option. You might have to swap the positioning of the box modules on the gradient slider here so that the radial gradient has a solid center that fades to transparent edges. Otherwise you might end up with the reverse. It might just be best to experiment with the results when messing around with the modules.
Apply the gradient into the oval.
Now we’re going to shrink down the image to icon size. Go to the top menu, Image>Image Size. Pick 40×40 pixel size to resize.
Use the Zoom Tool to get a better look at your work. Paste any image you like
underneath the silver ring. Be sure to shrink down any imagery you use appropriately
too before bringing in. Now click on the ring layer in the Layers Panel to make
that the active layer. Use the Magic Wand Tool and click inside the ring to make
a small circular selection. Now, instead of contracting the selection, we’re going
to expand. Top Menu>Select>Modify>Expand Selection. Do this by 1 pixel.
Now in the Layers Panel click the layer with the art or graphic you pasted in. The “dancing ants” selection should still be visible. Press Ctrl+SHIFT+I to Invert Selection. Now everything but the art inside the ring should be selection. Press Delete to trim.
You can also add a drop shadow by double-clicking the layer in the Layers Panel to open the Layer Styles. You can use the following settings:
Here’s what it looks would look like after more icons are made and placed on a forum.