Short guide for an Icon Designer

Before you can start designing icons for various programs, there are some usability rules that will help you a lot. When i started designing icons I knew almost nothing about the perspective that is generally used in Windows, or the sizes that are needed to exist in an .ico file and where they are actually used. Searching the net for good icon design resources, I’ve come across Pixel 2 Life website. This site is a great collection of tutorials on creating icons, at least the design part. The designs you can learn here are ok-ish and you can find almost anything you need. If you are out of inspiration or need a push, go there, search something similar to what you need, start the tutorial, and improvise the rest.

After a while I have started looking for some professional tips. I’ve found out that Microsoft provides a Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines.

Here you can find some basic rules of thumb regarding the icons used in Windows Vista.

Different sizes used by Windows

Different sizes used by Windows

You can find something similar for Mac OS  Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

Then there is the Guidebook. This site is a database of interface history. Icons, interface and even splash screens used in different programs. Great resource.


Splash example - client ADI-COM Soft

After you have created the design for the icon, you have to make all the sizes needed by Windows in an .ico file. For this time consuming task i use Axialis IconWorkshop . Great software. Worth buying. It will make all the sizes you need from 1 image in no time. If you are into icon design and do not use it, at least try it.

Icon eXpert Bugetar - client ADI-COM Soft

Icon eXpert Bugetar - client ADI-COM Soft

Icons - multiple clients

Icons - multiple clients

Now with Web2.0 graphic style you can see icons everywhere on the net, used to illustrate websites. Did you make any icons that are posted or used on the net. Share it with us.

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