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Basic guidelines of icon design

1. Look at Icon Design Holistically
Icons are used within graphic interfaces. If they are created for desktop applications or Web sites, an icon is one of many visual elements that need to work together harmoniously. Remember this logic when you work icon sets as well. Icons can contribute to the project by their aesthetic solutions individually, but they can not function on their own. Judge your icons in relation to the graphic system you're applying them to. Be certain that each icon is different from it's neighboring icons, while still acting in union as a whole.

2. Consider Your Users
You will have various considerations if you're designing an intranet for a private company, in comparison toa product that is sold internationally. When developing icons, social considerations are important. Images may differ for typical objects you may use for your designs.

3. Draw for the Size the Icon will be Used At
If you pick a vector format and make your images in Illustrator, there is an inherent temptation to scale the image, and try to use it at all the sizes. This can't be done with icons. An image that looks good at 512px looks like a blurry smear at 16px. Icons should have a general design that is used as a starting point, but each output size needs to have its own optimized design.

4. The Icons Should Remain Simple and Iconic
With all the new OS now having icons that scale to large sizes (512px by 512px is extra large for an icon), the temptation grows to get creative with your icon designs. While a level of realism can add character to an icon design, it should not restrict its ability to function simply and efficiently.

5. Cast Consistent [Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows]
It's important that the realism you add to your designs all function in the same way. If you apply a spot light coming from one corner you should stick with it. Or you will loose the consistent design of your icons. Also consider the light arrangements of the interface your icons will be used in. If the light source of the icons is at odds with the Web site or software design you're using them in, then the design will appear amateurish.

6. Use a Limited Perspective
The range of perspective inside your icon pack should work in union. If you have objects being looked at from straight ahead then stick with that. If you locate one at a specific angle, then be sure all the other icons will look good at that angle also. Imagine a photo camera being placed at a constant viewing spot and looking at all the objects with the same perspective. This helps to maintain consistency in your icon designs.

7. Create Consistent Icon Set Styles
Lighting and Perspective definitely take part in styling of an icon, but there are many other factors that can contribute to the style as well. 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

 Science Toolbar Icons

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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