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General principles of icon design

1. Look at Icon Design Holistically
Icons are used within graphic interfaces. Whether they are created for desktop applications or Web sites, an icon is one of a variety of visual elements that need to work in unity 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 alone. Evaluate your icons in relation to the graphic interface you're applying them to. Be sure that every icon differs from surrounding images, while still acting in union as a whole.

2. Consider Your Users
You will have various considerations if you're creating an intranet for a private company, rather then fora product that is distributed worldwide. When developing icons, social details are important. Images may differ for typical elements you way want to use for your designs.

3. Draw for the Size the Icon will be Used At
If you go vector and create your graphics in Illustrator, there is an inherent temptation to shrink the design, and try to use it at all the sizes. This doesn't work with icons. An image that looks good at 512px becomes a messy smear at toolbar sizes. Icons should carry a base idea that is used as a guideline, but each output size needs to have its own optimized design.

4. The Icons Should Remain Simple and Iconic
With operating systems now promoting icons that scale to large sizes (512px by 512px is extra large for an icon), the you are increasingly tempted to get illustrative with your icon designs. While a certain degree of realism can add character to your image, it should not restrict its ability to work clearly and efficiently.

5. Use Consistent [Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows]
It's obvious that the photographism you add to your icons all function in the same way. If you use a spot light coming from one corner you should stick with it. Or you will loose the integrated appearance of your icons. Also consider the light arrangements of the interface your icons will be used in. If the lighting of your icons is contradictory with the Web site or software design you're using them in, then the design will be unrealistic.

6. Use a Limited Perspective
The range of perspective within your icon design set should work in union. If you picture icons being looked at from straight ahead then keep this concept. If you locate one at a certain angle, then make sure all the other icons function that way. Imagine a camera being placed from a constant vantage spot and looking at all the objects with the same perspective. This helps to maintain consistency in your icon set.

7. Create Consistent Icon Set Styles
Lighting and Perspective certainly contribute to the style of an icon, but there are many other things that can contribute to the style also. If you're trying to fit your icon into a grunge-style Web page 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

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 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

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

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 and Windows Bitmap formats. Download it

Icon editors