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Basic principles of icon design

1. Look at Icon Design Holistically
Icons act within graphic interfaces. If they are designed for desktop applications or Web pages, an icon is one of a variety of graphic elements that need to work in unity harmoniously. Carry this logic across icon sets as well. Icons can be appreciated for their original visual appearance, but they can not function alone. Evaluate your icons in the prospect of the graphic system you're using them in. Make sure that each icon differs from it's neighboring images, while still acting in union as a whole.

2. Remember About the Users
You will have various considerations if you're designing an intranet for a private company, rather then fora product that may be sold internationally. When developing icons, cultural details are vital. Symbols may differ for common objects you way want to use for your designs.

3. Draw for the Size the Icon will be Used At
If you pick a vector format and draw your images in Illustrator, there is an inherent temptation to scale the image, and try to use it at any size. This doesn't work with icons. What looks good at 512px looks like a blurry smear at toolbar sizes. Icons should have a general idea that is used as a guideline, but each output size needs to contain its own optimized design.

4. The Icons Should Remain Simple and Iconic
With all the new OS now promoting icons that can be resized to large sizes (512px by 512px is extra large for an icon), the temptation grows to get illustrative with your designs. While a level of photographism can add interest to an icon design, it should not restrict its ability to work simply and effectively.

5. Cast Consistent [Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows]
It's vital that the photographism you put into your images all function coherently. If you apply a spot light coming from one corner then stick with it. Or you will loose the integrated appearance of your icons. Also consider the light source of the interface your icons will be used in. If the lighting of your icons is at odds with the Web page or application design you're placing them in, then the whole picture will appear amateurish.

6. Utilize a Limited Perspective
The range of perspective inside your icon set should work together. If you picture images being looked at from straight ahead then keep this concept. If you place one at a specific angle, then be sure all the icons function that way. Imagine a camera being placed at a specific vantage spot and looking at all the objects with the same perspective. This helps to create unity in your icon set.

7. Design Similar Icon Set Styles
Lighting and Perspective definitely contribute to the style of an icon, though there are many other factors that can contribute to the style as well. If you're aiming 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

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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