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Статьи » Stock Icons for Publishers and Developers

Enhance your software or Web site with stylish, professionally made icons. Save time on releasing a new software project or publishing printed matter by using a matching set of readily available icons. Get exactly the icons that you want. What do you do when you need graphical elements for newly developed software? Do you contract a professional designer to create your icons for you, or do you use standard Windows icons or icons that are distributed with your development environment?

The answer depends on your priorities. If you value development speed, you can sacrifice the visual appearance of your project, and use standard icons. This approach results in a rather bland looking application, but a rapid development.

If, on the other hand, you value quality and positive user experience, you might commission a designer to create exactly the icons you want. That's in theory. In practice, however, you rarely get exactly what you wanted, delivered precisely on a due date. More often than not, the process requires several iterations of communicating with the designer, resulting in unwanted delays and shifts of release date.

So what would you do when you require a professionally looking, slick user interface for your software or Web project developed with minimum delays? Ordering a set of stock icons is your only option. These icons are readily available, created by professional designers, and are available with full previews so that you get exactly what you need for your project.

A quick search for 'stock icons' will return over a million pages, making it difficult to choose the right provider for your graphics needs. There are certain criteria that you should apply to your research when selecting the source of your icons.

Are icons available in all the sizes that you require? Even if you don't need all sizes right away, sooner or later you just might need that missing format. Look for at least the following sizes: 16x16, 24x24, 32x32, 48x48, and 256x256 pixels with color depths of 256 colors and the semi-transparent 32-bit format.

Is your stock icon provider serious about their business, supporting the latest trends in icon design? Make sure your icons have that modern, slick look provided by the latest visual guidelines published by Microsoft. While visual appearance remains up to your personal tastes, there are certain formal, technical criteria that should be met. Your icons must be available in all of the standard sizes and color depths. If you are targeting Windows 2000, XP or later, you must supply 32-bit icons with a semi-transparent mask, also referred to as an alpha-channel. Your icons must look in line with the Windows icons, which means that they have to use a unified palette and share features such as translucency effect and shadows.

Finally, what if you ever need a size that is not available right away? Will you need to hire an expensive designer to create an icon that looks similar, but not quite, to what you already have? Or will you have to pay your icon provider to get that particular size? A good stock icon provider will offer its graphics in vector format, this enables you to render graphics in any size and resolution that you may need.

Are there many providers that meet these criteria? I could find one when I was looking for ready-made icons to enhance my latest project. Lokas Software meets and exceeds the requirements that I set as a must for my icon provider. Their icons are available in styled sets sharing common design features and palettes. They offer multiple resolutions and color depths, and provide entire sets of icons in vector format for a very reasonable fee, which is less than the cost of a single icon if ordered from a designer.

Their Realistic Icons nicely blend XP and Vista style, making this set a perfect choice if you are targeting a conservative audience who might use older Windows for some time, of if you prefer the distinctive, calm appearance of XP icons over the slick, active look of Vista.

Aero Icons are the right choice if you are developing for Windows Vista, offering icons that match the new Vista style precisely.

If you are designing for Windows XP, or simply prefer your icons to look more artistic and stylized than the realistic, photo-quality sets employed in Vista, a set named XP Artistic Icons will be perfect for you.

As an added bonus, they include AWicons Pro, a nice icon editing application with every order of a Pro set, and Cover Commander, a tool to render a box or cover image, with every order of a vector set.

Apr 30, 2007.

Keywords: stock icons, ready made icons, vector icons, vista icons, xp icons, windows icons, aero icons, realistic icons, artistic icons, royalty free icons.

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