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Favicon -- what's the best palette?

 11:26 pm on Feb 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

I used to drive myself crazy trying to create a favicon on a 16 color palette. Then I read some recommendations that said go for the 216 color Windows palette. Well, that gives me a lot more flexibility.

However, it still trashes things a bit. I've also read that the 16 million color palette is a good shot, as long as you avoid transparency (which is buggy on Win2K systems.)

Now, adding to my confusion I read this:

The Windows System Palette
Windows really doesn't have a system palette; it only has a starter selection of colors. Any application for Windows can throw out the Windows "system" palette and create its own group of colors, except for the first ten and the last ten colors in the palette ... The colors in these palette postions must always appear in these exact locations and can never be replaced. If you create an image using all 256 colors but don't include these twenty exact shades, Windows will throw out twenty of the custom colors from your image and replace them with these standard twenty.

from sparklenet.com [sparklenet.com]

Does anyone have the true scoop on all of this? Since I never create icons except for favicons, I always feel like duck out of water when I get into this territory.



 11:29 pm on Feb 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sounds like you'd be safest using the "first & last" 20 color set.

At least until a Mac browser starts using favicons. hehe...


 11:54 pm on Feb 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here's a great example of why I don't trust any of the information I've found so far. On favicon.com (they ought to know, right?) I find this:

Sometimes a 16 color image is desired, and sometimes a 256 color icon is desired. This repository is scanned for the image size/color count appropriate for the location and the computer's color capability. If the image is not ideal, it may be compressed, expanded, and/or colors may be modified producing unexpected results. This is why we recommend making a 16x16 pixel, 16 color icon. [my emphasis]

Favicon FAQs [favicon.com]

And yet they also say this:

What a the current best practices for building favicons?
Currently we recommend the following:

Create a 2 image favicon. One icon 32x32 and the other icon being 16x16. Both 256 colors (stick to Windows Default Palette) [my emphasis]. Reason: In some browsers, you can drag the favicon to the desktop where it becomes a link. Often, this desktop icon is 32x32 pixels.

Favicon Best Practices [favicon.com]

Right now I'm sticking with 256 colors. It's might hard to do anything sharp in 16 colors. But I'm wondering what's the trade-off. What risks am I taking here?


 9:26 am on Feb 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Everything I've seen leads to 256. Someone running 16 colors probably doesn't *have* favicons. If they do - yours certainly won't be the first that disgraces their desktop with indiscernable colors. (They live in the realm of the color impaired.)

I only ever did one and I crunched my palette down from 256. I took a look at my own desktop icons and viewed each one and counted colors. Some were 256 - some were less.

You might go P.C. and try to go for high-contrast, no matter the color count, for those who may be vision impaired or suffer from color-blindness (always a good idea to be considerate).

Regarding the online favicon craze, it's kind of like asking, "What color Yugo do you want, Ma'am?" If this is putting your stomach in knots always remember - this isn't the Sisteen Chapel. In a hundred years who's going to care?


 12:30 pm on Feb 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I must say that this whole area seems really arcane to me. There is an amazing lack of solid information about a small area of technology that seems like it should be a simple thing.

Even the favicon website seems to have as much opinion as fact. Why should opinions enter into it?

If I include a 16 color image in the favicon file as a third choice (along with two 256 color images) will a 16 color system select that image for display?


 12:04 am on May 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

To create a favicon.ico from a Macintosh what do you do, what file type is .ico, and can the mac save it or even make favicon.ico files?


 12:25 am on May 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

AFAIK, now that favicon.com has taken down their free java icon generator... *sob* you need special software to do them on Mac. IconBuilder is the only app I know of offhand that will allow Mac users to make favicons in their native Macish language.


 6:37 pm on May 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Update: Iconographer, a shareware program, allows Mac users to generate .ico files, Mac OS icons and OS X icons all in a nifty icon-specific design interface. (From what I've heard, Graphic Converter - also shareware - will also save .ico format files.)

:) The Favicon Queen is back in business!

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