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Graphics for Windows Vienna. Appearance and construction.

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


Icons, which are used in a newly released Windows Vienna are very like Windows Vista graphics. They are created with identical construction and schemes.

First, what is Vienna icon? Vienna icon - is an icon made in aero style (style of Windows Vienna interface). Significant alterations in icons' design can be noticed in Windows Vista and Vienna GUI even at first sight. A typical detail of Windows Vista and Vienna interface is new icons, designed in a more rigorous rigorous and more beautiful way. Glass highlights and reserved colours bring icons pleasant for eyes, not irritating in continuous work and multiple viewing.

Overview of icons creation. Details of style.
  • Items used as metaphors are crafted in hi- tech style and appear more advanced.
  • Degree of turn and volume bring life into images.
  • Items' angles and borders are neat and smoothly round.
  • All objects face a spotlight now (with additional lightning spread all around)
  • Drop shadow adds contrast and volume.
  • Elements with borders are easily distinguished.
  • Gradients enchance the volume and gives stylish appearance.
What is updated in Vienna style icons?
  • Appearance is more realistic but still not completely realistic. Since icons are intuitive images and not pictures of specific items, in interface they fit even better than photos.
  • Overlayed images show what software the object is assigned to.
  • Buttons icons have less details and look more flat for neat look under smaller size.
  • Icons have maximal size 256 x 256 and it makes them suitable for high dimension screens. To display icons on such screens in proportional size, saving the quality, large 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 buttons, toolbar or compact symbols only, largest size is not required.
Microsoft Corporation suggests to make interface icons for applications running exclusively in Windows Vienna in the listed 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 can be scaled with no distortion from 256 x 256 to 32 x 32. With smaller sizes, program's alterations of resolution makes the picture of bad quality, so another 16 x 16 image is needed. Algorithms of resolution changes unfortunately are not perfect and its recommended to include 48x48 size into your icons to avoid perversion.

If you need the pictogram to be completely compatible with not only Windows Vienna but former Windows releases as well, you will need to create the icon containing respective images (each - with three types of colour depth).

Completely compatible (with Windows XP and previous versions) icon should contain following resolutions: 256 x 256, 48 x 48, 32 x 32, 16 x 16

We do not suggest to put 24 x 24 resolution into your icons (except toolbar), as this resolution is not necessary. Moreover, the icon including this size, is hard to be compatible with Windows 98 and Windows 2000.
If you need icons for your toolbar, their size 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 reserved for picture and 8 bits by opacity channel.
This allows icons to present semitransparent details and sleek edges, regardless the background they are at.

Typical Windows Vienna graphics contain three types of color options for increased 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 images require 32-bit colour depth.

If you need your icons to look fine all the time, in situation of video driver insufficiency for example, 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 older) but 4-bit depth is not provided in the icon, the colour pallet will be automatically shifted down to 16 colours, below you can get the way it will look 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 graphics 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 combination.

Not like older versions, items in Windows Vienna are turned at 45 angle clockwise.
Rotated graphics are suggested for an application icon or to present the volume objects.

Following objects are better if displayed flat (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

Plain or rotated overlaying of a second image in the icon is determined on what both the item and the graphic mean. Its hard to give more detailed suggestion in this case, you just have to be guided by the experience and study the way the image is understood, also if 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 potentiate the 3D effect. In volume and plain icons the shade is different:

Drop shadow of volume and flat objects

Border of Vienna-icons.

Vienna-style icons often have a border. Its not so clearly expressed as in XP-style and is not constantly used. Outline is nesessery to ensure understanding of an image, regardless the background it is located at. Outline may take only a part of an image constantly matching the design of an icon securing its style.

Various kinds of outline

Overview of Vienna-icon architecture
Functional differences of Vienna-icons and XP-icons

Vienna-icons contain two main distinctions from XP-icons:
  • Vienna-icons contain a grand image 256x256
  • In original icons this grand image has PNG extension
Use of PNG compression is a key point as it brings 256x256 image non-useable with Windows XP and previous releases (only compact resolution pictures will be displayed).
PNG-compression is used in icons for images 256x256 px only. The compression does not affect the quality and file size is reduced in about 4 times when transparency channel is supported and picture is perfectly scale.

Compatibility of Vista and Vienna-icons with Windows XP

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

Why Vienna icons are better?

Professionally made Vienna type icons have the following benefits:
  • visual comprehension of application's interface is appealing
  • program's features are better presented
  • usage is more intuitive , easy navigation and identification of software, items and tasks
  • your aoolication's interface is advanced , stylish and individual

To get a quality appearance of a software, Microsoft suggests you to modify the look of your commonly viewed icons, with aero style. It is also recommended to make a new design of all icons reflected in Start menu and Explorer (considering icons representing file types). It is recommended not to apply any icons in Windows 9x and older release style, in programs running under Windows Vienna.

Making of individual Vienna-icons.

Picture your application with the most convenient interface, in Vienna style, with unique icons that completely show program's functions and tools due to proper metaphors, they get you to work with the application just because it's a pleasure to look at it. Graphics made in a style that will definitely be a new world classic.
You may ask: "Where do I order these perfect graphics, at a competitive price and not just like 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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