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19. Creating icons for program files

There is an art to creating icons, and I'll try and give you some pointers towards creating them. In many cases they can add a little bit of polish to the programs/media content that you've created.

Typically these files are only 32 pixels by 32 pixels with 256 colours. Thus we must select a graphic which does not loose too much of its content when it has been reduced. Let's say that we want to create a program icon for the following graphic:

The original graphic is 100 pixels by 141 pixels, so there isn't too much scaling involved. First the graphic is scaled so that it is square (100 pixels by 100 pixels) and then is reduced to a 32-by-32 pixel format (this is achieved in Fireworks with Modify->Image Size and selecting the width as 100 pixels). Finally the image is saved as a BMP-8 format to give:

The file format is now small enough to be imported into an icon editor (in this case I've named it lock.bmp). Next you must use an icon editor, which allows you to import the BMP file, and then paste it into the icon file. this case I have used the icon editor in Microsoft Visual C++:

With a little bit of scaling, the final ICO file can be created. Finally the icon can then be easily associated with a program, to give the following:

It is important that you keep your icons simple, as complex images will loose their resolution when they are reduced in size.

If you want to view the design files, they are here:

RSA VB Program ZIP