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ArtIcons. A Review by John Clark, WebMaster

© by John Clark, WebMaster rcmahq@nwark.com
Source: www.users.nwark.com/~rcmahq/nwapcug/icons213.htm

NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2003

In my transfer from DOS to Windows I managed to bring along several programs that I use often and want them on my desktop. Unfortunately they do not have an appropriate icon and my attempts to change to a more informative one was not successful. Then I picked the program ArtIcons from http://www.aha-soft.com/articons/. A quick click on this site will give all the specifications of what the program is capable of doing. You will also note it has several awards including five cows from Tucows.com.

I immediately downloaded it and fired it up and went forward into an area where I had never been. The first thing I noticed was it had many menus and lots of options. My first impression was I may have gotten hold of more than I really wanted, but I soon found out I was wrong as I started up the learning curve.

The Learning Curve: As usual the learning curve is a function of how much experience the user has. To completely master all of the features of ArtIcons would take the average user several hours, but for a beginner like me I was able to get my first icon up and on my desktop in about 15 minutes. To get it exactly the way I wanted it took another 45 minutes. Once I had the first, I got 4 more up in a very short time.

Since I am not an artist, making my own icons that could compete with professional ones was not a success. Hence I went to an end run and started to rip off and edit some I found on the Internet. I have a nice Jayhawk for my KU URL marker, a couple from my old college for the URLs of their student and faculty papers.

Making an Icon from any gif, jpg, or other files is very easy to do. You may want to watch the size of the original file you plan to use. You may need an editor to cut the picture down to a proper size before you pull it into ArtIcon editor. Once there it is helpful to remove some of the clutter using the tools provided. It is possible for you to edit the icon one pixel at a time. Remember the icon should be bright to stand out, so you may want to use some editor like IrfanView to lighten the photo.

Once you have created and saved your icon, you can swap it with the one on your desktop by doing a right click on the one on your desktop, choose 'properties', and then click on 'change icon' and 'browse' over to the icon you just created, click on 'ok' and you have done it. Remember to save your own icon library when you do your next backup.

Given enough time I plan to modify shortcuts in all my folders that have that 'blue e' with a circle around it. Actually modifying icons is rather fun.

A search of http://www.aha-soft.com/ will show they have several interesting products, and I found a freeware product of Ahaview v1.1 at http://www.aha-soft.com/ahaview/index.htm It is a rather nice little viewer of picture files starting with thumbnails and letting you see various enlargements. Well worth checking out. All of the products come with an un-install feature which is considerate of the company.

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Icon IconLover is our pick. It allows you to design and edit all kinds of graphics required in the software development cycle, including icons, static and animated cursors and interface elements - all these graphics can now be designed in a single application.

 Cut Icon Toolbar Icon Set. A collection of practical and eye catching Windows icons representing all basic operations required for software development.

Dollar Icon Business Icon Set will make your software and web products look more modern and attractive. File formats included into the set are Windows icons, GIF and PNG images.

Icon ArtIcons Pro is an advanced icon-specific utility for Windows. It supports ICO, BMP, PNG, GIF, PSD, XPM, XBM, WBMP, CUR and ANI image formats and allows you to manage icon libraries.

Icon Any to Icon converts icons and cursors into BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF, ICO, CUR and other formats. This wizard can find icons and make images for use on Web pages.