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Icons for Windows Vienna. Appearance and construction.

The most important design detail of icons used in operating system Windows Vienna, construction differences of Vienna, Vista and XP icons, recommendations to crafting Vienna style icons.


Introduction

Icons, which appear in a recently released Windows Vienna are mostly similar to Windows Vista icons. They are designed with identical structure and schemes.

So, what is Vienna icon? Vienna icon - is an icon made in aero style (style of Windows Vienna interface). Significant changes in icons' appearance can be seen in Windows Vista and Vienna interface even at first sight. A typical feature of Windows Vista and Vienna interface is new icons, created in a more strict but still and more fine way. Glass glares and defined colours make icons pleasant for eyes, not irritating in constant work and repeated viewing.

Key points of icons design. Description of style.
  • Objects used as metaphors are crafted in hi- tech style and look more current.
  • Angle of rotation and volume make image alive.
  • Objects' angles and borders are soft and rounded.
  • All items face a source of light now (with extra diffused lightening all around)
  • Falling shadow brings contrast and volume.
  • Outlined elements are easily distinguished.
  • Gradients intensify the volume and gives stylish appearance.
What is updated in Vienna graphics?
  • Appearance is more realistic but still not completely realistic. Since icons are symbolic images and not illustrations of specific items, in interface they look even more appropriate than photos.
  • Overlayed images illustrate what software the file is related to.
  • Toolbar icons have less details and look more flat for neat look under smaller size.
  • Icons have biggest size 256 x 256 and it makes them suitable for high dimension screens. To display icons on those screens in scaled size, saving the quality, large images are needed.
Size of Vienna - icons.

Typical icons in Windows Vienna consist of five sizes - 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 compact symbols only, largest size is not needed.
Microsoft Corporation suggests to make interface icons for applications operating only under 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 or Windows Vista, because PNG format used in these icons is scaled with no distortion from 256 x 256 to 32 x 32. With more compact sizes, automatic alterations of size deliver the image of poor quality, so a separate 16 x 16 image is required. Programs of resolution changes unfortunately are not perfect and its recommended to include 48x48 image into your icons to avoid perversion.

If you need the icon to be completely compatible with not only Windows 7 but former Windows releases also, you will need to make the icon including respective images (each - with three types of colour depth).

Fully compatible (with Windows XP and former releases) icon must have following resolutions: 256 x 256, 48 x 48, 32 x 32, 16 x 16

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

Colour depth of Vienna icons.

Windows Vienna uses 32-bits icons where 24 bits are dedicatedto picture and 8 bits by opacity channel.
This allows icons to present semitransparent elements and sleek edges, regardless the background they are at.

Typical Windows Vienna graphics contain three types of color options for backward compliance :
  • 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 need your icons to be fine all the time, in situation of video driver insufficiency 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 monitor (this may occur in Windows XP and older) but 4-bit depth is not provided in the icon, the colour scheme will be automatically shifted down to 16 colours, here you can get the way it will look 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 icons show material of a subject 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


Turn angle and objects combination.

Unlike older releases, objects in Windows Vienna are rotated at 45 angle clockwise.
Rotated images are recommended for a software icon or to display the 3D items.

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

Flat or angled overlaying of additional item in the icon is determined on what both the image and the graphic mean. Its hard to give more concrete recommendation in this situation, you just need to be guided by the experience and study the way the icon is comprehended, also if it is in a group of icons.

Overlaying of objects - front and angled

Falling shadow in Vienna graphics.

Falling shadow in Vienna icons is used to improve recognition and to intensify the 3D effect. In 3D and flat icons the shadow looks different:

Drop shadow of volume and flat objects

Border of Vienna-icons.

Vienna-style icons usually have an outline. Its not so vividly expressed as in XP-style and is not constantly used. Border is required to ensure understanding of an icon, no matter the background it is located at. Outline may be used only a part of an icon constantly following the design of a picture securing its reality.

Various kinds of outline

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


Vienna-icons have two functional differences from XP-icons:
  • Vienna-icons contain an extra large picture 256x256
  • In original icons this grand image has PNG compression
Use of PNG file is a key point as it brings 256x256 image non-useable with Windows XP and previous releases (only smaller size pictures will be shown).
PNG-algorithm is applied in icons for size 256x256 px only. The algorithm does not change the quality and file is reduced in about 4 times while transparency channel is supported and image is perfectly scale.

Compatibility of Vista and Vienna-icons with Windows XP

To get the icon completely compliant with Windows XP, 256x256 resolution in the icon must be saved non-compressed. You may always add or cancel the compression, this will not affect the quality. Size of the icon with non-compressed images including all standard formats will be about 400 Kb.

Summary
Why Vienna icons are recommended?


Quality Vienna type icons have the whole list of benefits:
  • visual comprehension of application's interface is pleasant
  • program's features are more clearly presented
  • usage is more intuitive , simple search and identification of software, objects and actions
  • your aoolication's GUI is advanced , stylish and unique
Suggestions.

To get a quality appearance of a software, Microsoft recommends you to modify the look of your mostly displayed icons, with aero style. It is also recommended to make a modern design of all icons reflected in Start menu and Explorer (including icons showing type of a file). It is suggested not to apply any icons in Windows 9x and earlier version style, in applications operating under Windows Vienna.

Making of individual Vienna-icons.

Picture your application with the most convenient interface, in Vienna style, with unique icons that clearly present program's features and tasks thanks to proper metaphors, they make you to work with the application just because it's a pleasure to see it. Graphics made in a style that will definitely be a new world standard.
You may ask: "Where do I purchase these flawless graphics, at a reasonable price and not just similar ones but real 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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