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General principles of icon design

1. Look at Icon Design Holistically
Icons fit within graphic systems. If they are created for desktop software or Web pages, an icon is one of many visual elements that have to work in unity harmoniously. Carry this logic across icon sets as well. Icons can contribute to the project by their original visual appearance, but they don't work alone. Evaluate your icons relative to the graphic interface you're applying them to. Make sure that each icon is different from surrounding images, while still working together as a whole.

2. Remember About the Users
You will need to make various considerations if you're developing an intranet for a private company, in comparison toa product that is sold internationally. When developing icons, social details are vital. Images may vary for common objects you way want to use for your designs.

3. Design for the Size the Icon will be Used At
If you go vector and create your icon in Illustrator, there is strong temptation to scale the image, and try to use it at any size. This doesn't work with icons. What looks good at 512px becomes a messy smear at toolbar sizes. Icons should have a base design that is used as a guideline, but each output size needs to have its own modified design.

4. The Icons Should Remain Simple and Iconic
With all the new OS now introducing icons that can be resized to large sizes (512px by 512px is gigantic for an icon), the you are increasingly tempted to get illustrative with your designs. While a level of photographism can add interest to your icon, it should not restrict its ability to function clearly and efficiently.

5. Use Consistent [Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows]
It's important that the realism you put into your images all function in the same way. If you set a spot light coming from one corner then stick with it. Or you risk losing the consistent appearance of your icons. Also consider the light source of the interface your icons will be used in. If the light source of your icons is contradictory with the Web site or software design you're placing them in, then the whole picture will be amateurish.

6. Use a Limited Perspective
The range of perspective inside your icon pack should work together. If you picture objects being looked at from directly above then stick with that. If you place one at a certain angle, then make sure all the other icons function that way. Imagine a camera being placed from a specific viewing point and looking at all the items from the same perspective. This helps to create unity in your icon set.

7. Design Similar Icon Set Styles
Lighting and Perspective certainly take part in styling of an icon, but there are many other factors to consider also. If you're aiming to fit your icon into a grunge-style Web site design, you'll likely be applying texture to the style of the icon's design.

 Standard Toolbar Icons

Standard Toolbar Icons

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Science Toolbar Icons

Icon editor ArtIcons Pro can find, extract, edit and create Windows icons in color depths up to 16 million colors. Import and export icon images, create and handle icon libraries. It supports the new icon format introduced in Windows XP (8-bit transparency). Download it

XP Icon editor IconXP can edit and create Windows icons in color depths up to 32-bit True Color. It supports the new icon format introduced in Windows XP (8-bit transparency). You can customize desktop and folder icons. Download it

Icon converter Any to Icon allows you to convert multiple BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG, WBMP and WMF images to Windows icons in one action. It also breaks down entire icon libraries into individual icons. You can change color resolution and size to create customized icons. Download it

Icon editor and builder IconUtils is a complete icon and cursor solution. IconUtils package can edit icons and cursors, manage icon and cursor libraries, convert icons into images (in various graphic formats) and vice versa, customize Windows desktop and folder icons. Download it

Icon converter Icon to Any allows you to convert Windows icons and cursors into BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF, ICO, CUR, WBMP and RC formats. It has a wizard interface. It's simple to process multiple files at once. You can find icons and make images for use on Web pages. Download it

Cursor editor ArtCursors allows you to edit Windows cursors in color depths up to 16 million colors. You also can search files and folders for cursors, import and export cursor images and create cursor libraries for better and more efficient storage. Download it

Viewer AhaView supports all popular graphic formats, including JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, ICO, CUR, ANI, WBMP. You can browse images in thumbnail mode, view pictures full screen with zooming features, convert images to JPEG, PNG, BMP formats and manage files. Download it

Customize desktop icons CustomIcons is an ultimate tool for customizing the icons on you desktop, in Windows Start menu and many other locations. Using CustomIcons you can easily replace default Windows icons with the ones to your choice. Download it

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