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Icon design for dummies fanbois

Going Rogue (Amoeba)

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Icon insanity...

But not the only one who needs an icon builder. A couple of weeks back, loyal El Reg readers may have noticed an article entitled "Apple snuffs iPhone app for too much Appleness.” It describes the woes of Rogue Amoeba Software in seeking to use a Apple-authored images in their iPhone application and the way Apple essentially stalled them for several months through the App Store reviewing process.

My sympathies are very much with the folks at Rogue Amoeba. For a full explanation of the technicalities involved, check the blog entry dated November 13th here. This makes it clear that Rogue Amoeba specifically did not include Apple’s images in their executable, contrary to what some folks think. They simply invoked valid, legitimate Cocoa API’s designed to retrieve those icon images. It’s a particularly irritating example of high-handedness on Apple’s part, and it ultimately benefits nobody, least of all Apple themselves.

Having said all that, I hope my mention of Axialis IconWorkshop has convinced you that, at the end of the day, it’s no big deal to come up with your own, alternative images if Apple won’t play ball.

Other alternatives

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few alternatives to IconWorkshop, although you’ll definitely need to be a bit more artistic than me before sailing into these waters.

First up is a program called Inkscape which is a vector-based SVG-compatible drawing program. It aims to be somewhat like Xara X in operation, but has the big advantage of being open source and freeware! You can find Inkscape at www.inkscape.org, and you’ll find an excellent two-part tutorial from Matt Gallagher on using Inkscape for icon design here. Be warned, though that on the Mac, Inkscape runs as an X11 program, with all the attendant ‘Bizarro’ implications. Full marks to Matt for a terrific tutorial, but how I wish Inkscape was a native Cocoa app...

Next up is a Photoshop tutorial on iPhone icon design which you can find here. Obviously, most of the principles explained here can be adopted to Mac desktop icons.

Another very cool drawing program is Opacity which you can find here. This is a native Mac application, although perhaps a bit expensive at $89.99. As you’ll see on the web site, there’s a very nice video tutorial which walks you through the creation (from scratch) of an attractive, Web-browser style icon. Heck, even I might be able to handle that one.

Finally, there’s Intaglio, another vector-based drawing program from the rather scary-sounding Purgatory Design. Costing the same as Opacity, Intaglio claims to have a very familiar feel to ‘MacDraw’ of fond memory, and it’s certainly easy to get to grips with. ®

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