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All in all, if I were going to be using the icons in a public website, or commercial application though, I'd take the time to make them myself... or hire someone to do custom work for me. That said, you could probably hire either of the aforementioned folks to build some custom icons for you.
<added>Ahh yes... before I forget! Welcome to WmW joshie. Hope you find us all helpful!</added>
If I can't find a 'matched set', the editing takes a bit longer. On my personal site, I took some clip art and some original images, and PhotoShopped the heck out of them, until they all had a more-or-less coordinated look. However, on my primary employer's site, I did all the icons myself from scratch... which is very time consuming. see profile for URLs
OTOH, I really enjoy making icons, so the time spent doesn't bother me. Designing a small, ultimately simple image that really communicates a specific idea is a terrific conceptual challenge.
This is total magic to me. I fancy myself to be pretty adept with Photoshop, but I've tried to make icons and I've had nothing but miserable failures. I look at my Windows system tray and see very realistic images of a mouse and two computers connected to each other. Every time I try my hand at it, I wind up with a 32x32 smudge.
Every site you go to with a little envelope graphic as their email link... a little house for their home page link... the industrial "man" and "woman" images you see on public restroom doors... it's all icons to me.
If you want to see some really stunningly realistic desktop-type icons though, visit the mozco !GARASH! [tcp-ip.or.jp] site I mentioned above... Puts Windows icons to shame.
The problem is that you are starting in photoshop. If you start your work in a vector based program like Freehand or Illustrator you will have a clean crisp two dimensional image that you can then rasterize and see how it resolves at 32x32.
Speaking of which... another great way to make scalable 1 color icons would be to use a vector program to draw the images, and then import them into a font generating program, and then save all the images into your own TrueType dingbat icon font... (I'm good at making things more complicated than they need to be! :) )
I've been too busy to do too much about it at the moment but last night I spent about half an hour tinkering with Illustrator. Using a large scale drawings and rasterising them down to the required size yielded some pretty impressive results for 30 mins work.
Whilst I have a lot more tinkering to do I think this would make a great workshop as there are a couple of little tricks you can play to ensure the smaller pixelated icon looks as you want (ie Much thicker lines than you think you would need).
I'll keep you updated and if I do any nice ones Ill post them up somewhere so you can steal/review them.
Been taking my 'playing' with icons a little bit more seriously this afternoon and I have finally found a use for Fireworks. I haven't been such a big fan of this app until I tried designing icons with it.
It's excellent!! Use the vector drawing tools and some cleverly oriented gradient fills for some seriously professional results.
LOL! Thanks... I do always like to see other people's work. Not so much for stealing as for, err, "inspirational" purposes.
Any yeah, there are some very odd things about very small graphics (like the thicker lines trick) that you'd really never think of until you shrink a nice image and it looks like garbage all of a sudden.
Has anyone come up with tricks/techniques for dealing with this 16 color restriction and getting a great looking icon?
For my desktop icon editing (on a Mac) I use ResEdit to creat and edit them... the guy who runs the mozco site says he also uses ResEdit, so I figure I'm in good company there...