Create Magnifying Glass Zoom Effect

This tutorial will create a simple and effective “zoom” effect with your image for your blogs or personal use.

The ultimate trick with this one is to have an image that is too large in the first place. You can use a smaller image, but it’s quality in the finished product will be greatly reduced. As a general rule, never scale up images, only scale down. If you scale an image down, it compresses all of those details and still appears clear, however if you scale it up it tries to fill in all of those now larger spaces with image and begins to appear blurry.

This works well with a website screenshot, maybe for an article you’re doing. You may want the entire view of the site in the shot, but also want the text readable, but only in one spot. For this tutorial, I am using a stock photo of stained glass from Stock.xchng. I want to show the whole image, but want a detailed close-up of the flowers in the window.

Step 1: Open your image in Photoshop. Copy and paste it into a new file. Keep both of them open. Resize one of them to the size you are going to want in the end. Don’t forget to save as you go.

Step 2: In the file that is still large, use the circular selector tool, and while holding SHIFT, select what you want to be the zoomed in part. Copy, and paste this into your smaller file. Close the big one, or keep it open, it’s up to you. Either way, you don’t need it anymore.

Step 3: Scale your circle down so it’s the size you want the zoom to be.

Step 4: Go to your Layers window and double click (or right click and select “Blending Options”) on the layer your circle is on, and add a stroke. Make it black and however thick you want the rim of your magnifying glass to be.

Step 5: Add a new layer, then select a light grey and black in the color palette in your toolbar.

Step 6: Draw a slightly thick rectangle with your Rectangular Marquee Tool (the dotted selection box), taller than wide. Select the Gradient tool and the “Reflected Gradient” option, then draw a line in the direction you want the gradient to go – so in this case, draw it horizontally. Play around with it until you get it just right. You don’t have to undo it if you don’t like it, just keep using your tool and drawing the lines, it will overlap whatever you had there previously. This is the handle portion of our magnifying glass.

Note: Make sure the light grey color is the foreground color or the gradient will look a little off.

Step 7: Add another layer, and move it below the layer with the rectangle we just made. This will be the stem part of the handle that eventually attaches to the circle we just made. Change the lighter grey color to white, draw a tall and thin rectangle with the selection box, and do another horizontal gradient until you get it just right.

Step 8: Add another layer, keeping it over top of the tall thin rectangle we just made. Draw a wide and short rectangle, doing the same gradient effect, only use a darker grey instead of the white now.

Step 9: Position them just right, link them or merge them together (or select the individual layers, depending on which Photoshop you’re using). We want the handle to connect to our magnifying glass a little smaller and at an angle. CTRL+T, scale it down slightly if it needs to be (be sure to hold shift while doing so or you’ll have a distored looking handle) and then rotate it to a slight angle, somewhere near to 45 degrees. Hit the Enter or Return key on your keyboard so your alterations take to it.

Step 10: Move your circle with the stroke on it up above your handle you made in the layers window. Position your handle so it appears as though it is attached to your circle.

Step 11: Merge all of the pieces to your magnifying glass, and add a drop shadow the same way you added your stroke to your circle.

Voila! Magnifying glass.

Hope this helps! This works great for a screen shot of a webpage, with a lot of words on it and you just want a small section to be readable. I’m sure you can find some ways to utilize this.

By Kirin Knapp

Kirin Knapp is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network, publishing company of FlashNewz. A flash animator and illustrator, she is the creator of her home site,

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