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Basic guidelines of icon design

1. Look at Icon Design Holistically
Icons fit inside the graphic systems. Whether they are created for desktop software or Web sites, an icon is one of a variety of graphic elements that have to work in unity harmoniously. Remember this logic when you work icon sets as well. Icons can contribute to the project by their original visual appearance, but they don't work alone. Judge your icons relative to the graphic system you're applying them to. Be sure that each icon is different from it's neighboring icons, while still acting in union as a whole.

2. Consider Your Users
You will need to make different considerations if you're designing an intranet for a small company, in comparison toa product that may be distributed internationally. When developing icons, social details are vital. Symbols 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 scale the design, and try to use it at any size. This doesn't work with icons. What looks good at 512px becomes a messy smear at toolbar sizes. Icons should carry a base idea that is used as a starting point, but each produced size needs to have its own modified design.

4. Keep Icons Simple and Iconic
With all the new OS now promoting icons that can be resized to large sizes (512px by 512px is gigantic for an icon), the temptation grows to get creative with your icon designs. While a certain level of photographism can add interest to an icon design, it should not restrict its ability to function clearly and efficiently.

5. Use Consistent [Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows]
It's vital that the photographism you put into your designs all function coherently. If you set a light source coming from one corner you should stick with it. Or you risk losing the integrated appearance of your icons. Also consider the light source of the interface your icons will be used in. If the light source of your icons is contradictory with the Web page or application design you're using them in, then the whole picture will be amateurish.

6. Utilize a Limited Perspective
The range of perspective within your icon pack should work in union. If you have icons being looked at from straight ahead then keep this concept. If you place 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 from a constant viewing spot and looking at all the items from the same perspective. This helps to create unity in your icon designs.

7. Design Similar Icon Set Styles
Lighting and Perspective certainly contribute to the style of an icon, though there are many other factors to consider as well. If you're intending to fit your icon into a grunge-style Web page design, you'll probably 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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