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Icons for Windows Vienna. Appearance and structure.

The most important design detail of icons appearing in operating system Windows Vienna, construction differences of Vienna, Vista and XP graphics, guidance to creation Vienna type icons.


Icons, that are used in a recently released Windows Vienna are mostly similar to Windows Vista graphics. They are designed with the same structure and schemes.

So, what is Vienna icon? Vienna icon - is an icon drawn in aero style (style of Windows Vienna interface). Major alterations in icons' design can be noticed in Windows Vista and Vienna interface even at first sight. A distinctive feature of Windows Vista and Vienna interface is new icons, created in a more rigorous rigorous and more fine way. Glass glares and reserved colours make icons appealing for eyes, not annoying in continuous work and multiple viewing.

Key points of icons creation. Details of style.
  • Items used as metaphors are made in hi- tech style and look more current.
  • Degree of turn and volume bring life into images.
  • Objects' angles and edges are neat and smoothly round.
  • All objects face a spotlight now (with additional lightning spread all around)
  • Falling shadow adds contrast and volume.
  • Outlined elements are better distinguished.
  • Gradients enchance the volume and gives stylish look.
What is updated in Vienna graphics?
  • Appearance is more realistic but still not completely realistic. Because icons are symbolic images and not pictures of specific items, in interface they fit even better than photos.
  • Overlayed images illustrate what applications the object is related to.
  • Buttons icons contain fewer details and look more plain for optimizing under smaller size.
  • Icons have biggest size 256 x 256 and it makes them suitable for high dimension screens. To show icons on those screens in proportional size, keeping the quality, big images are needed.
Size of Vienna - icons.

Standard icons in Windows Vienna contain five resolutions - 256 x 256, 48 x 48, 32 x 32, 24 x 24, and 16 x 16 px. If icons are applied for menu, toolbar or compact symbols only, largest size is not needed.
Microsoft Corporation recommend to create interface icons for applications running exclusively in Windows Vienna in the following sizes:
  • 256 x 256 px
  • 32 x 32 px
  • 16 x 16 px
Microsoft affirm that intermediate sizes between 256 x 256 and 32 x 32 are unneeded for Windows Vienna and Windows Vista, because PNG files used in these icons is scaled with no distortion from 256 x 256 to 32 x 32. With smaller sizes, program's change of size deliver the image of bad quality, so a separate 16 x 16 image is needed. Programs of resolution changes unfortunately are not flawless and its recommended to put 48x48 image into your icons to have less perversion.

If you need the pictogram to be completely compliant with not only Windows 7 but former Windows versions as well, you will have to make the icon containing corresponding images (each - with three types of colour depth).

Completely compliant (with Windows XP and older versions) icon should contain following sizes: 256 x 256, 48 x 48, 32 x 32, 16 x 16

We do not suggest to include 24 x 24 resolution into your icons (except toolbar), because this size is not required. Furthermore, the icon containing this size, is hard to be compliant with Windows 98 and Windows 2000.
If you need icons for your toolbar, their resolution is the same 24 x 24 and 16 x 16 px.

Colour options of Vienna icons.

Windows Vienna reads 32-bits icons where 24 bits are occupied by picture and 8 bits by opacity channel.
This allows icons to have semitransparent details and sleek edges, no matter of the background they are on.

Typical Windows Vienna icons consist of three types of color options for increased compatibility :
  • 32- bit colour (24- bit colour ) plus 8-bit transparency channel
  • 8- bit colour (256 colours ) plus 1-bit transparency channel
  • 4- bit colour (16 colors) plus 1-bit transparency channel
Your icons require 32-bit colour depth.

If you want your icons to look good all the time, in situation of video driver failure for instance, you will require 8-bit and 4-bit images (with 256 or even 16 colours only).
An icon in various colour depth

If there are 16 colours shown by your screen (this may occur in Windows XP and lower) but 4-bit depth is not included in the pictogram, the colour scheme will be automatically reduced down to 16 colours, below you can see the way it may appear like:
A 32-bit icon displayed in 16 colours
This is a 32-bit icon shown in 16 colours.

Vienna icons colour pallet.

Colours in Vienna icons show material of an object or a message (if used in symbols)

  • White - paper (documents )
  • Light grey - silvery plastic (computers and peripherals)
  • Dark blue - switched-on screen (displays and other screens)
  • Light ochre - carton (folders)
  • Blue - glass (basket, lens)
  • Emerald- green - transparent plastic (special folders)
Colours showing the material

  • Red - warning
  • Yellow - attention
  • Green - permission
  • Dark blue - information
Signal colours

Turn angle and objects grouping.

Unlike older versions, objects in Windows Vienna are turned at 45 angle clockwise.
Angle -wise graphics are suggested for a software icon or to show the 3D items.

Some items are better if displayed non- rotated (like they are laying on a table and you look over them)
  • Files icons
  • Flat objects
  • 16 x 16 size icons
Icons for rotated and non -rotated objects

Front or angled placement of additional image in the icon depends on what both the image and the graphic represent. Its difficult to give more detailed recommendation in this situation, you just have to be guided by the experience and analyze the way the icon is understood, also if it is in a combination of icons.

Overlaying of objects - front and angled

Falling shadow in Vienna icons.

Drop shadow in Vienna icons is used to increase recognition and to potentiate the 3D effect. In volume and plain icons the shadow is different:

Drop shadow of volume and flat objects

Border of Vienna-icons.

Vienna-style icons often have a border. Its not so vividly visible as in XP-style and is not always used. Border is required to make possible understanding of an image, regardless the background it is placed at. Border may take only a part of an image constantly matching the design of an icon securing its style.

Various kinds of outline

Review of Vienna-icon architecture
Main distinctions of Vienna-icons and XP-icons

Vienna-icons contain two main differences from XP-icons:
  • Vienna-icons contain an extra large image 256x256
  • In typicall icons this grand image has PNG extension
Use of PNG file is a critical moment as it makes 256x256 image non-compatible with Windows XP and earlier releases (only compact size pictures will be shown).
PNG-compression is used in icons for images 256x256 px only. The compression does not affect the quality and file size is smaller in about 4 times when transparency channel is supported and picture is perfectly scale.

Compliance of Vista and Vienna-icons with Windows XP

To get the icon completely compatible with Windows XP, 256x256 seize in the icon should be saved uncompressed. You may always include or cancel the compression, this will not change the quality. Resolution of the icon with uncompressed images containing all common formats will approximately be 400 Kb.

Why Vienna icons are better?

Professionally made Vienna style icons have the following advantages:
  • visual comprehension of program's interface is pleasant
  • program's abilities are more clearly presented
  • usage is more intuitive , easy navigation and identification of software, items and tasks
  • your aoolication's interface is advanced , engaging and individual

To get an advanced appearance of an application, Microsoft recommends you to change the design of your mostly viewed icons, with aero style. It is also suggested to make a new design of all icons presented in Start menu and Explorer (including icons showing file types). It is recommended not to use any icons in Windows 9x and earlier release style, in applications running under Windows Vienna.

Creation of individual Vienna-icons.

Picture your software with the most intuitive GUI, in Vienna appearance, with unique icons that clearly show application's functions and tools thanks to proper metaphors, they make you to work with the program just because it's a pleasure to look at it. Graphics created in a style that will definitely be a new world standard.
You may ask: "Where do I order these perfect graphics, at a competitive price and not just similar ones but absolute Vienna icons?"

You can do it at: aha-soft.com, perfecticon.com, 777icons.com.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows XP and/or other Microsoft products mentioned above, are either trade marks or registered trade marks of Microsoft.

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