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     I like mine better
    Filed under: — David @ 2:05 pm

    Part of the “new Desktop” in Leopard is a new set of folder icons. They’re not shown very prominently on Apple’s web site yet, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t like them. They’re a little too dark, and the monochromatic badges don’t stand out enough. In particular, they’re harder to differentiate in list view. I think they really should bring back some color so that the things that make each folder icon unique can stand out more.

    The old Aqua folders didn’t quite sit well with me either because they don’t look like real folders. What folder is made of half transparent blue, and half ribbed white plastic? I assume Apple was trying to address this with the new icons.

    Of course, I’m not just tossing out complaints without contributing any suggestions or alternatives of my own. I did my Paper Folder icons quite a while ago as my own response to those Aqua folder issues, and I prefer mine to Leopard’s.

     Resexcellence
    Filed under: — David @ 9:06 am

    I just looked and saw that my new logo for Resexcellence is on their site now. Actually, it’s been up for almost a month now. Guess I should have looked sooner :)

     Inkscape
    Filed under: — David @ 10:47 pm

    I’ve been experimenting lately with using Inkscape for creating icons. It has its pros and cons. I got into it mainly because I’ve been investigating SVG.

    One of its good points, compared with Photoshop’s vector layers and effects, is in stroking. Inkscape is a vector drawing app, so naturally it strokes the path directly. Photoshop’s stroke effect works off of the layer contents, so when you’re working with the nearly sub-pixel-level details of small icons, that can be a little inaccurate. Photoshop does have the ability to stroke a path directly, but that’s a command, not a live effect. It paints the stroke into a bitmap layer. If you change the path, you have to erase and stroke again. I tried this route with the original Squiver set, since at the time Photoshop didn’t yet have vector layers. It was pretty tedious.

    On the con side, there’s the lack of a screen-resolution preview. It works like Illustrator: when you zoom in, you get a higher resolution view of the image. Actually, there is an “icon preview”, but that’s a new feature that has some growing up to do. It shows a preview of the current selection scaled to a few standard icon sizes, the largest being 48x48. (I also haven’t figured out the purpose of the popup menu in the preview window, which doesn’t seem to do anything). I’m not quite sure why it only shows the current selection; the only way I could figure out to get it to show the whole canvas was to create a dummy rectangle that matched the size of the canvas, and preview that. It’s also not a live preview: you have to click “refresh” now and then.

    The other down side is that it runs as an X11 application. Now, the UI is quite decent for an X11 application, and I appreciate that they’ve gone to the trouble of creating a drag-installable Mac build. But when I’m working in OS X, it’s always preferable that the apps I use have a native UI. I keep forgetting to hit ctrl-Z instead of cmd-Z for Undo.

    So far I’ve made Sprightly and Squiver style icons and it’s working well. Smack or Paper Folder can’t be done currently, because Inkscape doesn’t yet support SVG filters. Even if it did, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent for Photoshop’s Inner/Outer Glow, which I use a lot in the Smack and Paper Folder icons. Core Image doesn’t seem to have that either, so this is going to be a challenge.

     Sprightly Hardware
    Filed under: — David @ 9:48 pm

    Sprightly Hardware is my first set in over a year. Some people may have noticed that I’ve had the preview up for a while; I finally decided 20 icons is enough for now.

    It’s kind of a tough choice between trying to develop a new style, and seeing what else you can do with an old one. After Sprightly, Squiver, Smack, and Paper Folder, I felt like it was time to go back to the beginning.

     Icon-making tricks
    Filed under: — David @ 11:01 pm

    As a companion to my previous article on icon design, I have posted a second one about the icon-making tricks I have developed for making icons in Photoshop. It mainly discusses the use of Photoshop’s layer effects, which I make heavy use of in most of my icons. Bring any follow-up questions to the forums.

     The craft of icon design
    Filed under: — David @ 10:49 am

    I forget how I found it (I think I was searching for other blogs about icons), but here’s a great article about icon design:

    Learning to Love the Pixel: Exploring the Craft of Icon Design

    There’s lots of good and interesting stuff in there, from the process and philosophy of icon design as a craft to the origins of words like “icon” and “craft”.

     The return of Sprightly
    Filed under: — David @ 3:12 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do a new hardware icon set, but doing Squiver Hardware 3 seemed a bit monotonous (though I may eventually do that anyway). Since I haven’t been successful at coming up with a new style, I went with something old: Sprightly, my first, and still biggest, icon set. I had messed around a bit with making thumbnail-size versions of some of the Sprightly icons, but never stuck with it long enough to make a whole OS X set.

    After making a few icons, I noticed something interesting. It’s easier to make Sprightly icons of boxy objects than curvy ones, while Squiver was the opposite. This mainly hit me as I was doing the original iBook. Since it was curvy already, it was hard to mess with those curves while still making it look like an iBook. Squiver, on the other hand, worked best with curvy objects because it didn’t distort their shape.

    The other difficulty with Sprigthly has always been the Apple logo. It didn’t look that great in the original set, and it hasn’t gotten any better. But now I’m only dealing with cases like the Power Mac G5 where the logo is just big enough that it ought to be recognizable… though I’m tempted to just make it a circle anyway. It’s another curvy object issue.

    Anyway, I’ve got 5 Sprightly Hardware icons done so far, and I’m liking it. My favorite so far is the flat-panel iMac. I don’t know if I’ll make every single iMac and iBook color variation, but other than that I plan to make it a pretty complete set, at least as far as the post-beige era goes.

     What’s going on
    Filed under: — David @ 2:03 am

    The end of the year seems like a good time to review all the stuff I have going on now, so here goes.

    Real Life: I’m effectively, but not quite officially, done with school (that being a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Utah). I’ve been sending out resumes for a while, and I hope to find something back on the west coast (that’s where most of the software companies are, anyway). But I’m not too picky about location. Leaving Salt Lake would have its good points, but so would staying.

    Shareware: The primary thing I’m working on is a peer-to-peer modular networking application, and so it is built on the Volley core. I’ll post more details later on. Volley itself has been somewhat put on hold in favor of this other project. Why? Money, basically. It’ll be a long time before I can realize my dream of selling Volley plugins, but there are other ideas I can take advantage of in the mean time. ACCELA has been slowing down somewhat since I started moving to Cocoa, but it does still get worked on. Some things are still easier to do in Carbon, or at least Core Foundation, so there’s still a need for it.

    Games: Working with Greg Laabs has been fun. It’s good to see CTF4 finally happen. BR4 will be finalized soon. I’ll probably be working on ONS4, though the details of that still need to be worked out. It’s not going to be simply Onslaught with 4 teams. The 4-team element adds a new dimension to the game, and I intend to fully explore it. Aside from that, Flag Effects and Apprehension are two other mods that I want to bring to UT2004. I know someone else is making a mod called Apprehension, but since theirs isn’t a game type, and since I was using the name first, I plan to stick with it. And then there’s my announcer voice project. I still have to see how well this microphone works.

    Icons: Icon stuff has been on the back burner. I haven’t had any really good ideas for a new set. That is, I’ve had some ideas, but I haven’t been able to take any of them all the way. Pixelpalooza has been cancelled this year, anyway. Icon Machine sales have dropped off in spite of new releases, so that’s on the back burner too. But at least I finally got the prefs window done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I picked it up again in a couple of months, and took another shot at icon states or Windows icons. And who knows, maybe Tiger will have vector icons or something.

    The future depends a lot on what kind of job I get, because whatever I do at work, I won’t want to do it so much when I get home. But I remain optimistic. There should be enough companies out there where I can find my dream job. Something where I can exercise my established skills and talents, and at the same time explore new horizons. Maybe databases, or Windows programming, or something I haven’t even considered yet. I want a place where I can be a member of a great team, while still retaining some independence, with a sense of ownership of what I do. The work environment should be positive, so that the office will be a pleasant place to be, and it should be in a good neighborhood with some good places to get lunch. (I’m not mentioning money because I’d be surprised if I found a job with all that other stuff that didn’t pay well, too.) That’s pretty much my wish list, and the reason why I’m optimistic about finding a reasonable approximation is it’s based on past experience.

    Am I deluding myself, or is there power in positive thinking? I’ll let you know.

    Oh, and happy new year.


    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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