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Get Ready Icons
Which graphic format should the icons be crafted in?


A bitmap image (like GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) contains a pixel-based graphic information. Pixels (constriction for "picture element") are those tiny little dots of color that your computer screen is made up of. An icon sized 24x24 pixels representing a plain red square is actually comprised of 576 individual pixels, each represented by little bits of binary data in a graphic file. A larger icon will contain more pixels, causing more binary information, and thus a larger file size.
A vector image file (like EPS, SVG, etc.) contains mathematical-based information. A vector image picturing a red square sized to 24x24 pixels would simply contain binary datd regarding the geometrical position of the square's four corners, information about the color of the square, and information defining the size of the square as 24x24 pixels on the monitor. Basically our red square vector file only requires about six tiny bits of data as opposed to our 576 bits of data taken up by our bitmap red square.
The explanation is actually a bit more complex than it's described, but you understand the basics: Changing the size of a vector image file from 24x24 to 48x48 only requires the alteration of one bit of information (the size). The math does the rest. However, modifying the size of a bitmap image file from 24x24 requires the addition of 1728 more pixels, resulting in a larger file size.
That means a single vector file may be used to represent it's image at multiple sizes, whereas a bitmap image may only accurately represent its only pre-defined pixel dimensions.
So if a vector image can change size to represent any dimensions it so desires, why would the icon desigers choose bitmap format for their icons?
If you look at the same icon, created in both bitmap and vector formats, you will notice that the bitmap one is clean and crisp, with even 1-pixel lines sharply defined. On the other hand all the icons that had been resized from the vector file look blurry.
This happens because, although vector images can be scaled to every size, there is a weakness in them This weakness is more apparent at small sizes. Especially resolutions under 48x48 pixels. The flaw is that computer screens still have pixel-based (that is to say, bitmap-based) displays.
When you have a vector image, originally sized at 24x24 and scale it down to 16x16, the relative proportions change. There's no way you can evenly distribute 24 pixels of data into 16 pixels of space because, there's no such thing as half a pixel. So the image blurs.
There's also no chance you can evenly resize 24 pixels of information upwards into 32 pixels area. Again, the image blurs.
Even more, if you take that same vector image, originally sized at 24x24 and size it up to 48x48, you're now doubling the proportions. Now you don't have crisp 1-pixel details. You have chunky 2-pixel lines. Size it up bigger (say to 96x96) and the lines will become even thicker.
There are a few caveats: First, if you're working with larger icon sizes (for example, above 48x48) you will not notice the difference as dramatically, and you may consider the results to be fine. Second, your mileage will vary as you create various styles of artwork. The less-detailed your linework is, the less you have to worry about vector rescaling.



 Standard Toolbar Icons

Standard Toolbar Icons

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Science Toolbar Icons


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