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The most typical errors in icon creation?


#1 Poor differentiation between icons
Sometimes within a single pack of icons, we have icons that look alike and it is very hard to tell which one is which. If you miss the signatures, you can very easily get the icons mixed up.

#2 Too many elements in the icon
The cleaner and more laconic the image is, the better. It is preferable to set the number of objects in a single icon to a minimum. However, Microsoft“s designers, excited by the new icon format featured in Windows Vista, tried to go big and created bloated icons to justify their over packed budget.

#3 Unnecessary objects
An icon is an image that should be easy to understand. The fewer objects it has, the better. It is better if the whole picture is relevant and not just a part of it. Therefore, you have to think about the context of using icons.
Take the database icons, for example. The pack may look fine at a first glance, but if this application (or a specific toolbar) deals only with databases, we can (and we must) delete the irrelevant part.

#4 Lack of unity of style in a pack of icons
It is a unity of style that turns several icons into a set. The uniting property can be any of the these: similar colors, layout, size, drawing technique or a combination of several such properties. If there are only a few icons in the set, the creator can remember the rules easily. However, if the icon set is large and there are several designers working on them (for example, icons for an operating system), then specific guidelines should be developed. Such instructions describe in detail how to draw an icon so that it perfectly matches the set.

#5 Spare details in small sized images
The progress is moving fast: GUIs have gained the potential to use semi-transparent objects, the number of possible colors to use became unlimited and there is now a move 3D icons. But is it actually all that useful? Not necessarily! Especially if we are talking about icons sized 16?16 or smaller.

#6 Misusing original metaphors
Choosing what is to be displayed in an icon is always a compromise between readability and originality. Prior to a symbol (image) is created for an icon it is advisable to consider how it is designed in other products. Maybe the most suitable solution is not in coming up with something unique but rather in adopting the common solution.

#7 Ethnical or cultural differences not being considered
It is always helpful to take into account the background in which your icon is going to appear. An important aspect here is ethnical characteristics. Cultural traditions, surroundings and gestures can vary dramatically from nation to nation.
For instance, a mail box appears to be a great image for a ”Mail‘ icon. But you will find all the different types of mailboxes in different countries. In that situation, you should either make your icon resemble the mailbox that is common for the user“s country or state, or select a more universal illustration like a post stamp.

#8 Images of real interface elements in icons
The manual on designing icons for Mac OS X tells us: ”Avoid using Aqua interface elements in your icons; they could be confused with the actual interface.‘ But no use! We still have lost of icons that can be viewed as a few separate ones.

#9 Text inside icons
This fault is commonly seen in software icons. Clearly the first thing that comes to mind when working on an application icon is to use the application“s logo. What is so bad about the text inside the icon? Firstly, it is directly language-related and so impedes localization. Second, if the icon is small, it is impossible to read the text. Thirdly, in the case of application icons, this text is repeated in the caption of the software.

#10 Outside the pixel framework
As a rule, this problem occurs if you use a vector format for creating your icons. In large size everything looks stylish and clear; but in real life the icons are small, and under rasterization anti-aliasing blurs the objects“ borders.



 Standard Toolbar Icons

Standard Toolbar Icons

 Science Toolbar Icons

Science Toolbar Icons


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