Logo Windows icon software company Icon SoftwareIcons DownloadsF.A.Q.Contact  
Icon Software
Graphic Software
Icons Downloads
Order Icons
Windows icon sets
Icon Design
EnglishDeutsch - GermanРусский - RussianEspañol - SpanishFrançais - FrenchItaliano - Italian日本語 - JapaneseNederlands - Dutch中文(简体) - ChineseNorsk - Norwegian
Get Ready Icons
Which graphic format to use for icons?

A bitmap image (like GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) consists of pixel-based image information. Pixels (abbreviation for "picture element") are those smallest dots of color that your computer screen is made up of. An icon sized 24x24 pixels representing a plain red square would be comprised of 576 separate pixels, each described by small bits of binary data in a graphic file. A bigger icon will contain more pixels, leading to more binary information, and thus a greater file size.
A vector icon file (such as EPS, SVG, etc.) contains mathematical-based information. A vector file containing a red square scaled to 24x24 pixels only contains binary datd regarding the mathematical position of the fout corners of the square, information about the color of the square, and information stationg the size of the square as 24x24 pixels on the monitor. Basically our red square in vector format only needs about six little bits of information as opposed to our 576 bits of information required for our red square created in bitmap.
In reality, the explanation is a bit more complicated 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 data (the dimensions). The math does the rest. But changing the dimensions of a bitmap image file from 24x24 takes the addition of 1728 more pixels, causing the file size to increase dramatically.
Thus a single vector file can represent it's image at numerous sizes, whereas a bitmap file may only accurately represent its single pre-determined pixel size.
So if a vector file can change size to represent any size it so desires, why do the graphic desigers use bitmap format for their creations?
If you look at the same icon, created in both bitmap and vector formats, you will notice that the bitmap one is clean and sleek, with even 1-pixel lines sharply defined. On the other hand all the images that had been resized from the vector file look blurry.
This happens because, although vector images can be resized, there is a flaw in them This flaw becomes more apparent at small sizes. Especially resolutions under 48x48 pixels. The flaw is that computer monitors still consist of pixels, which means they ae bitmap-based.
When you have a vector image, originally sized at 24x24 and shrink it down to 16x16, the relative proportions do not match. There's no way you can evenly arrange 24 pixels of data into 16 pixels of space because, there's no such thing as half a pixel. That's why 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.
Furthermore, if you have that same vector image, initially sized at 24x24 and scale it up to 48x48, you're now doubling the proportions. Now you don't have sharp 1-pixel lines. You have chunky 2-pixel lines. Scale it up larger (say to 96x96) and those lines end up even thicker.
There are a few caveats: First, if you're creating larger icon sizes (say, bigger then 48x48) you will not see the difference as dramatically, and you may consider the results to be fine. Second, your mileage will vary as you create various types of icons. The less-detailed your image is, the less you will need to worry about vector rescaling.

 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

Icon editors