With exponential developments in smartphone OS and GUI technologies, it may often seem like new visual designs are becoming obsolete faster than they’re being created. A couple of years ago, flat icons were all the rage—and are now being superseded once more by 3D and ‘almost flat’ Material Design-style icons. Keeping up with the trends… Read more »
With the recent releases of iOS 9 and the new OS X, El Capitan, Apple have introduced a number of incremental updates to their operating systems—mostly oriented towards speed and optimisation. Visual changes are few and far between, but the operating system is as beautiful—and often, unnecessarily prescriptive—as before. With over 1.5 million apps on… Read more »
This week saw the release of Apple’s new (and much hyped) iOS 9, the primary operating system for all of its mobile devices – in particular, the iPhone and iPad. iOS 9 boasts a range of new features and functions, including improved mapping, note-taking capabilities, multi-tasking, and customisation. While it was the much earlier iOS… Read more »
Icon design is ever evolving. As new platforms embrace the use of icons, new terms and references are dreamt up and older terms fall out of favour. This glossary is an ongoing project to document the icon design lexicon. Contributions are very welcome. 16×16 Pixel Icons This icon size has its own entry here because… Read more »
Flat design has become very popular recently. Many websites utilise the principles of flat design and simplify their interfaces accordingly. Indeed, many recent user interface redesigns and new websites use a flat design; this trend has begun to appear almost everywhere, both on websites and in applications. Icons are also keeping pace with the times,… Read more »
When someone asks me for a ‘set of application icons to cover all platforms’ they are usually shocked by just how many different sizes and formats are required. In fact, this is something that seems to evolve and increase every few months. There is some overlap across legacy platforms but most newer mobile platforms choose… Read more »
Running an Icon Design agency can be a lot of fun when you have a terrific set of people working with you. Not everything we churn out is always a commercial project, sometimes the icon designers like to kick-back and have a little fun. I thought it would be nice to showcase some of my… Read more »
As Apple have decided to make some changes to their App Icon size and corner radii form iOS7, I thought it would be helpful to myself and others to create a PSD template to both produce all the different Icon Sizes now required, as well as show how these will look on both iOS6 and… Read more »
Free App Icon Download Following on from my last post on designing cross-platform App Icons, here are the Free App Icons for you to download. Android PNG – 512, 96, 72, 48, 36, 32, 24 & 18 pixels iOS PNG – 1024, 512, 144, 120, 114, 100, 72, 58, 57, 50 & 29 pixels Windows… Read more »
I thought it might be useful for designers and clients alike to see how we approach a typical App Icon design project. In this case study the client requested an App Launcher Icon for an Email App developed on multiple platforms. The first thing to consider when creating an icon for different platforms is how to… Read more »
These programs let you select the format, size or even add some simple effects. How cool, is that?
App icon generators are really helpful. They work like some kind of magic. Import an image, let the software scale it to the sizes you need & export the correct file formats. Job Done! But this magic is capricious one. The results you’ll get critically depend on the artwork you upload and a little bit of luck too.
Honestly, I don’t believe in miracles and didn’t expect too much from these automatic icon makers. I decided to compare several popular free icon maker/converters for you and was genuinely surprised with the results!
Here are the 5 converters I used and a comparison of how they rendered a set of popular icon sizes for Android apps, from a simple pencil icon example. Please forgive me Apple users – your part has been skipped this time, but the results would be the same!
For a really useful comparison I’ve add manual resizes produced by a professional icon designer too, as a quality baseline.
My favorite and I think the most convenient. Move your graphic to the toaster and receive your hot icons! The simplest and most pleasant one, but you can’t change anything. You also need to give over your e-mail for downloading the icons. I wonder what else the email is used for?
Cool, but it only works with Android icon sizes. I think this is the most responsive converter for Android, it lets you select the shape of the final icon (e.g. circle, square) and allows you to add some popular effects like long shadow or dog ear.
This converter with the frightening name and old-fashioned design I like the least. It exports icons into a crazy number of folders and you may have trouble locating the sizes you immediately need. But it works.
A big plus – the possibility to generate any custom icon size
Also it is possible to add some styles and change the background colour of the icon.
Rather good and offers a lot of icon sizes and types but it does not let you preview the results before downloading, and you’ll get really tired of unzipping and re-uploading to check the results.
Professional Icon Designer
If you are not satisfied with the results of these free icon makers, the best option is to hire an icon designer, the smartest and most responsive ‘icon maker’ you will find. Of course you will need to pay for his/her time, perfection costs! ;-)
Need an expert icon designer?
Finding the right icon designer doesn’t have to be difficult
All of the icon converters produce acceptable results at large resizes (until you get down to 72x72px). At this size automated scaling issues start to become more visible but usually only when small details are present in your image. Look at the bar code, it becomes blurred, although the other parts of the pencil still look good. It is almost always easier to spot the blurring artefacts on straight lines, vertical, horizontal or angled. Curved lines and circles tend to stand up to automated scaling much better.
These kind of problems increase when we get down to the tiny icon sizes. Here is example of 18×18 icon, that is used for notifications. You can easily find nasty artefacts in the details of all the free icon makers.
For these smaller sizes you can’t really beat professional icon designers.
What about larger sizes?
Another problem appears if your initial image is quite small, or at least smaller than the largest size you need. Here is 512×512 pixel icon that was created from a 256×256 image. Oh,no! They are all blurred regardless of which icon maker we try because stretching pixels simply causes blurring.
Google Play icon (512x512px) created by an automated icon maker conversion
Google Play icon (512x512px) created by a professional icon designer
Icon makers and converters are useful, especially if you have large artwork with a relatively low level of detail and not too many straight lines. In these kind of conditions they work brilliantly. (Ok, almost brilliantly) Some of them don’t like a semi-transparent elements, don’t provide all the sizes you need, make blurry small icons. But hey, they are free! :-)
How to increase your chances of good results
Use the best quality and largest size artwork possible
Try several icon maker/converters to find the best results
Don’t have high expectations for your smallest icon sizes
Remember – you can always hire a professional to do all the hard work for you ;-)