There are many irksome and downright headache-inducing additions to contemporary websites, we at Creative Freedom have seen many. With coding becoming a lot simpler and people having greater access to templates which feature wide varieties of add-ons, we’ve seen a rise in site quality over the last 20 years. However, there is a downside to… Read more »
A game app’s user interface is the platform where the user interacts i.e. enters his inputs and receive feedbacks from the game. Henceforth, UI is considered as the means to achieve a satisfying user experience for the gamers. A game app’s utility primarily lies in the kind of user experience it delivers. If it fails… Read more »
In our last post, we explored the Pokémon Go interface in a couple of different ways – with a particular focus on how its well-designed icons help make its otherwise sparse and unintuitive interface aesthetically pleasing and usable. As an almost entirely map-based app and one of the most ‘popular’ games in the world currently,… Read more »
These days, apps are frequently touted as the ‘must-have’ fix-all solution to any and all PR and branding woes. There’s been plenty of discussion about whether or not brands really need apps to succeed in today’s markets, and it has been often noted that the app market has become completely over-saturated by useless, identikit apps…. Read more »
Despite there now being over 4 million apps on the market worldwide, many app designs are severely lacking in the imagination department. It doesn’t help that both Apple and Google produce lengthy, prescriptive ‘guidelines’ on how app interfaces on their platforms should be produced. While these are important in terms of explaining to designers how… Read more »
There’s been a lot of hype about VR technology in recent months. Ever since the Oculus Rift concept was announced, it seems like everyone and their grandma has been pushing to develop and release their own ‘unique’ VR technology—with Google, Samsung, HTC, and Sony following suit. We have talked in the past about how VR… Read more »
Ever since the first iPhone, location-based apps and services have been a central part of the smartphone user experience. From the ubiquitous Maps app to hybrid reality games like Geocaching and Ingress, location data continues to spur innovation and continues to have a real impact on augmenting our physical and virtual realities—just look at Tinder…. Read more »
Video games have never been more popular, especially since the advent of affordable mobile gaming. Revenue for mobile gaming in the US alone is estimated to reach approx. $3.31 billion in 2016, up from 2.03 billion in 2013. With the same source revealing that the mobile gaming market is “the fastest growing segment of the… Read more »
As we explored in our previous post, it’s important to make sure that the most important elements of your site – your content and your services – are at the heart of any information architecture you develop. Web design can be an immensely powerful beast, and as we’re about to see, the worst thing you… 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 »
Axialis have recently released version 6.62 of their excellent ‘Icon Workshop‘ Icon Design software so I thought it was a good enough excuse to talk about the software and how I use it.
Icon Workshop What does it do?
Icon workshop has been around for a number of years now, prior to which there weren’t really any dedicated icon maker software that handled ICO format files really well. For a long time Microangelo was the only ‘good’ application out there. So when Icon Workshop arrived it was something of a revelation and whilst I believe Microangelo has now caught up a lot functionality-wise, I am a die-hard Axialis fan now.
Icon Workshop is an Icon Design and Authoring tool with a number of useful features:
Raster based illustration tools
Import of multiple file formats
Processing of images into common icon sizes and formats
Includes size and bit depth templates for Win7 ICO, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.
Ability to create custom file sizes
Batch image processing tools
Export Plugins for Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator
Includes large library of customisable icons
Having grown up with Macromedia and Adobe design products, I wasn’t about to drop them for any new design software just because it was more focused on icon design. But Icon Workshop does provide many useful tools that Adobe haven’t addressed and, of those it has, Icon Workshop just does better. Further, Axialis have included some useful shortcuts by developing plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator allowing you to export illustrations directly into Icon Workshop. Shame they didn’t bother with Fireworks, which is in my opinion the best suited Adobe product for icon design.
The main benefit of Icon Workshop is its complete focus on icons. And because it is built with Icon Design in mind, the whole process is much smoother with less hoops to jump through. A good example of this is the ‘Icon project from several images’ feature. As I generally work in Adobe products and use Icon Workshop for rendering ICO files, I create the Icon Assets I need for the final file in 32bit PNG format, usually from Fireworks. I then launch Icon Workshop and select the ‘Icon project from several images’ command which can be accessed via the ‘File > New’ menu or via the ‘New’ button on the main Toolbar.
Use CTRL to select the images you want to import.
You then have the option to choose the file format; most of the time for me this will be the first option ‘New Icon Project for Microsoft Windows’.
Icon workshop then creates your ‘Icon File’ and displays all the sizes and colour bit depths on the left.
A common task at this point for a Windows 7 compliant ICO file, would be to add the additional colour depths required to fully support older software environments and operating systems. We do come across situations where 8bit images and 1bit transparency must be supported, so the ability to automatically render these additional colour depths is a big time saver. To do this click on the ‘Add several new image formats’ on the secondary menu (Green plus atop several overlaid pictures) button. You will be presented with a selection of common image sizes and colour bit depths to choose from.
In this example, I have selected all the standard file types for a Windows7 compliant ICO file, including 8 and 4bit options. The actual renders for 8bit are usually pretty good and require only minor tweaking which can be done using the inbuilt raster illustration controls. 4bit can be produced with or without dithering and generally need a fair bit of tweaking to get them presentable. But it is actually very rare that they are needed so I usually go with the dithered version. I leave this variant out altogether unless the client specifically requires it.
From here all that is left is to save the ICO file and you are done. The ‘X’ Icon from this example can be downloaded along with the rest of our free icons here: Free Windows Icons For more useful tips on Icon Workshop please check back next week when I will be looking at some of the other cool features. Cheers, Adam :)