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Graphics for Windows Vienna. Appearance and construction.

The most important design detail of icons appearing in operating system Windows Vienna, structural differences of Vienna, Vista and XP icons, guidance to crafting Vienna style icons.


Introduction

Graphics, which are used in a recently released Windows Vienna are mostly similar to Windows Vista graphics. They are created with identical construction and schemes.

First, what is Vienna icon? Vienna icon - is an icon drawn in aero style (style of Windows Vienna GUI). Significant changes in icons' design can be seen in Windows Vista and Vienna GUI even at first sight. A typical feature of Windows Vista and Vienna GUI is new icons, designed in a more strict but still and more fine way. Glass highlights and reserved colours make icons pleasant for eyes, not annoying in constant work and multiple viewing.

Key points of icons creation. Details of style.
  • Items used for metaphors are drawn in hi- tech style and look more current.
  • Angle of turn and volume bring life into images.
  • Objects' angles and borders are neat and rounded.
  • All objects face a spotlight now (with additional lightning spread all around)
  • Falling shadow adds contrast and volume.
  • Elements with borders are easily distinguished.
  • Gradients enchance the volume and gives stylish look.
What is updated in Vienna graphics?
  • Style is more realistic but still not completely realistic. Because icons are symbolic images and not pictures of specific items, in interface they look even more appropriate than photos.
  • Overlayed images illustrate what software the object is related to.
  • Toolbar icons have fewer details and appear more plain for optimizing under smaller size.
  • Icons have maximal size 256 x 256 and it makes them useable for high dimension screens. To show icons on those screens in scaled size, keeping the quality, large images are required.
Size of Vienna - icons.

Typical 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 used for buttons, toolbar or small pictograms only, biggest size is not required.
Microsoft Corporation recommend to create interface icons for programs operating exclusively in Windows Vienna in the listed sizes:
  • 256 x 256 px
  • 32 x 32 px
  • 16 x 16 px
Microsoft affirm that interim sizes between 256 x 256 and 32 x 32 are not needed for Windows Vienna or Windows Vista, because PNG format used in these icons can be scaled with no perversion from 256 x 256 to 32 x 32. With more compact sizes, program's change of size deliver the image of bad quality, so a separate 16 x 16 picture is required. Programs of resolution changes unfortunately are not flawless and its recommended to put 48x48 size into your icons to avoid perversion.

If you want the pictogram to be completely compliant with not only Windows Vienna but former Windows versions as well, you will have to create the icon containing corresponding images (all - with three levels of colour depth).

Fully compatible (with Windows XP and former releases) icon should have 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 graphics (except toolbar), as this size is not necessary. 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 depth of Vienna graphics.

Windows Vienna reads 32-bits icons where 24 bits are occupied by picture and 8 bits by transparency channel.
This allows icons to present semitransparent elements and smooth edges, regardless the background they are on.

Typical Windows Vienna graphics contain three levels of color depth 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 need 32-bit colour depth.

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


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

Vienna icons colour pallet.

Colours in Vienna graphics display material of an object or a signal (if used in symbols)

Material
  • 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

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


Rotation angle and objects combination.

Not like previous releases, objects in Windows Vienna are turned at 45 angle clockwise.
Rotated graphics are recommended for a software icon or to present the volume objects.

Following items look nicer if displayed flat (like they are down on a table and you look on them)
  • Files icons
  • Flat objects
  • 16 x 16 size icons
Icons for rotated and non -rotated objects

Plain or rotated overlaying of a second image in the icon depends on what both the item and the icon represent. Its hard to give more detailed suggestion in this situation, you just have to be lead by the experience and analyze the way the image is comprehended, also when it is in a combination of icons.

Overlaying of objects - front and angled

Falling shadow in Vienna icons.

Falling shadow in Vienna icons is applied to increase recognition and to intensify the volume. In 3D and plain icons the shade looks different:

Drop shadow of volume and flat objects

Outline of Vienna-icons.

Vienna-style icons often have a border. Its not so clearly visible as in XP-style and is not always used. Outline is required to make possible recognition of an image, regardless the background it is located at. Outline may take only a part of an image constantly following the design of an image securing its reality.

Various kinds of outline

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


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

Compatibility of Vista and Vienna-icons with Windows XP

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

Summary
Why Vienna icons are better?


Professionally made Vienna type icons have the whole list of benefits:
  • visual comprehension of application's interface is pleasant
  • program's abilities are more clearly presented
  • usage is more convenient , easy search and identification of software, objects and actions
  • your aoolication's interface is advanced , stylish and individual
Suggestions.

To get a professional appearance of a software, Microsoft suggests you to edit the look of your commonly displayed icons, with aero style. It is also suggested to make a modern design of all icons presented in Start menu and Explorer (including icons showing type of a file). It is recommended not to use any icons in Windows 9x and older version style, in programs running under Windows Vienna.

Making of single Vienna-icons.

Imaging your application with the most intuitive GUI, in Vienna appearance, with individual icons that clearly show application's functions and tools thanks to proper metaphors, they get you to work with the software just because it's a pleasure to see it. Graphics made in a style that will definitely be another world classic.
You may ask: "Where can I purchase these flawless 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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