What I really love about Icon Workshop is its fantastic scaling engine. I did a comparison in a previous post (Why Fireworks Rocks for Icons), of how the Adobe products render off 16×16 PNG files and the results were different for each product but none of them compares to how well Icon Workshop can scale PNG files.
Normally when creating ICO files I advise at the very least to create a unique simplified illustration for the 16×16 size, as on almost every occasion, scaling down a larger image (32×32 or higher) to 16×16 just doesn’t work. The detail is lost and the icon looks soft and blurred. If you are really serious about making ‘perfect’ icons (I am), then invariably I will advise a separate illustration optimized for each size. There really is no substitute for this if you want to deliver something that looks really crisp at every size. This is especially true of any design containing vertical or horizontal lines which really need to be positioned ‘pixel perfect’ to remain sharp. However, if the budget does not permit this attention to detail and I really have to look to a faster option for scaling, then Icon Workshop is in my experience unbeatable in this regard. There have even been a couple of occasions when I have preferred the scaled down version produced by Icon Workshop to the ‘optimized for 16×16’ version produced by one of my designers. It really is an invaluable tool when trying to save time on a project and still produce great results.
‘Make my life easier’, that is what all good software needs to do to pursuade me to invest in it and Icon Workshop was an easy purchase for me as it does just that and delivers quality results.
One of the new features added to v6.62 is batch processing of ‘Hot’ and ‘Disabled’ states. Now this is handy if you have a lot of PNG files to create the two states for. But what if you have already created your ICO files? If you want to create Hot and Disabled versions in ICO format it will batch convert all the images embedded within the ICO too. Normally you would have to tweak each of the images (perhaps 12) and then recreate the ICO file, but with Icon workshop all this is done for you. You can even create the Hot and Disabled versions of a whole folder full of ICO files in one hit. Now that is a time-saver!
To use the ‘Hot/Disabled’ batch creation tool click on the ‘Browse’ button in the main menu, navigate to the folder containing the files you want to use, select them and then click on the ‘File Browser’ menu item and select ‘Batch make Hot and Disabled Versions…’ or Ctrl+Shift+H.
Select your output preference and then click ‘OK’.
Icon Workshop will then process the images and output the files as you requested. In this example I chose a folder containing 20 ICO files and the operation took just a few seconds.
The resulting files are shown below, ‘Original’, ‘Disabled’ and ‘Hot’.
Axialis Icon Workshop has many batch conversion functions most of which can be great time savers for Icon Designers. The best part about them, as I have alluded to above, is the quality of the algorithms which really do deliver great results.
I hope to come back to Icon Workshop in later posts, but for now I hope I have provided some insights into a great Icon Design software application.