In this tutorial, we will look at creating a magnifying glass from scratch. You can use this guide for any underlying image or text, to make it look as though it has been magnified somewhat.

We will start with a blank canvas with the text or image we will have underneath the magnifying glass:

Next, make a selection with the elliptical marquee tool like so:

Create a new layer and fill the selection with a gradient like so:

Now create another new layer and right-click the selection or goto Edit > Stroke. Choose 10px, Outside, Black and you should have this:

This will be our frame for the glass. Create another new layer, then goto Select > Modify > Expand, by 5px and then Edit > Stroke, 2px, Center, White.

This will be the frame highlight. Now Ctrl-Click the frame layer to make a selection, and with the newest layer active (frame highlight), we will goto Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Choose somewhere around 2-3 pixels, or whatever you think looks best. Then with the same selection, goto Select > Modify > Expand, by about 2px. Then apply the Gaussian Blur to the original frame layer. Not much, only by about 0.5 or so. This is to just blend the edges a bit more. We should now have this:

Next, Ctrl-Click the glass layer to make a selection and hide the glass and frame layers, so we just have the text. Now make the text layer active and goto Filter > Distort > Pinch. If it asks you to Rasterize the Type first, click Yes, or Ok. Now choose a negative value of around -50, or whatever looks good for your effect.

Now unhide all layers and reduce the opacity of the glass layer down to 40% or so :

Now we want to add a lens glare to the glass to give it a more realistic look. Goto Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Choose one of the options, whichever looks best. And we’ll get a subtle glass effect:

Finally, make a selection for the handle, wherever you want to put it. If you want it at an angle, you can use the Polygonal Lasso tool using Shift, to create 45° angles, like so:

Fill the selection in with any color on a new layer. Then goto the layer styles and add a gradient overlay. You may need to alter the scale and reposition it whilst in the layer styles window. You may also want to add a texture to it, using patter overlay.

We can add some further effects with drop shadows and duplication, blurring, and reducing opacity: