[texworks] About the Icon Design (was: Icon Update)

Stefan Löffler st.loeffler at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 20:31:34 CEST 2009


I just wanted to give you a short overview over what I think an icon
should and should not be. From this, it hopefully becomes clear why I
did what I did and you can persuade me to the contrary ;).

IMO, an icon should be a simple, clear, and above all easy to recognize
pictographic representation, preferably of what the thing it represents
actually does. That said, I obviously don't have anything against a
nice-looking icon with lots of artistic topping. But above all, an icon
should have clean and simple strokes undisturbed by all the extras.
Great care must be taken that the icon is still discernible and
recognizable even at low resolution/size (e.g. 16x16 pixels). Despite
the fact that modern systems often tend to use extremely large versions
(96x96 pixels and more) for icons, there usually is still the
possibility (and sometimes the necessity) to view items as lists,
resulting in small icons. Note that an icon is substantially different
from a logo, the letter usually being designed and used only at moderate
to large scale.

That said, I'd like to explain what led me to creating the latest
version of the icon:
 * I added the border to have a rather high contrast outline which
should hopefully help in recognizing the icon. I admit that at sizes
larger than 42x42 pixels (where the border should be 1 px wide) it's
rather heavy, though.
 * I didn't draw the "inky" highlights because I thought the large
contrast changes inside the letter interfered with recognizing the
outline of the letter T (and because I'm not that skilled in Inkscape
;)). This especially applies to medium resolution icons. In the large
ones, it's recognizable what it is, and in the small ones, the effect
 * I broadened the bar of the "T" because at small sizes, it was hardly
visible (partially due to the fact that the "T" is tilted).

All in all, the result matches the design of most icons more closely
than before, IMO - it's more icon-ish (this assessment may be biased
though, as designs are system dependent). If we're talking about a logo
intended for larger sizes, I fully agree with everything

On 2009-07-11 13:16, Jonathan Kew wrote:
> [criticism/suggestions]
> (Just the opinion of a non-artist, of course!)

As am I ;).

> Now, what I was going to request.... in addition to the application
> icon, it would be good to have icons for associated documents, which
> at least some systems will display. If you look in the res/images
> directory you'll see that I have created a simple TeXworks-doc.png
> that the latest Mac build is using, but this was just hacked together
> in Photoshop, and would probably be better regenerated from Blender
> source if you're up for that. Also, it would be nice to have distinct
> document icons at least for text and PDF file types, while keeping the
> visual association with the application itself.... would you (or
> anyone) care to give this some thought? :)

I like your version as it is (though it was "hacked" ;)). I'm not sure
if they work well unmodified for 16x16 px, but other than it's simple
and recognizable.

It may be nice to have a distinction between different file types in the
long run (tex, pdf, sty, whatever else TW eventually will support),
similarly to what Adobe is doing.

The only other idea I had today was not to include the "moveable type
T", which doesn't really make that much sense if we go with the
interpretation that we use that image to represent TW because TW is
doing typesetting (OK, it's not, really, but I'll ignore that for now
;)). Following in this direction, the documents should not be
represented by the "moveable type", but rather by a printed letter.
Unfortunately, I don't think anyone would associate a document with a
large, blue, printer letter "T" with an application represented by the
"moveable type T". But still I like the idea ;).

> If you have the time (and inclination) to do this, it'd be ideal to
> have the icons generated at 512px, as I think that's the largest size
> anyone needs for now, well as any "source" that may be relevant, and
> any smaller sizes (256, 128, 48, 32, 16px) that benefit from
> fine-tuning rather than simply scaling the original. Oh, and of course
> the Windows .ico format, for those of us who haven't yet attempted to
> build those.

Ahem, who needs 128, 256, and 512 px? 512 px is half of the size of some
screens (particularly laptops, beamers and the like). For me, all of
these would no longer fall under the classification of icon.


PS: Wikipedia defines an icon as: "On computer displays, a computer icon
is a small pictogram."

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