Evaluation Notes - Icon Design

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These raw notes are provided as our documentation and for your insight and entertainment. They are not meant to start a flame war. Wait for our complete analysis before reacting.

task: designing icons with in cooperation with vector programs.

Open/Hot link to vector images

  1. Hot linking a vector file in not possible at the moment. However we think it should work by opening a file in a new layer. When changing vector img in Inscape, it should update on it’s own in GIMP. If that's impossible, then at least one-click manual refreshing.
  2. imported vector images should stay vector for ever. there should be a priority to maintain their aspect ratio.
  3. Changes wouldn’t affect the quality also for resolution changes.
  4. The steps/parameters that are now in dialog for vectors should be available in a vector way whenever- even if the original SVG is not around after years, you could still change it in a vector way with those parameters.

icon view

  1. a special icon view for the main window should be introduced. the canvas is split in two, and on the left are the icon in the different pre-defined formats (128x128, 32x32, 16x16) for a particular platform, and on the right one edits one of these.
  2. the smaller sizes are by default automatically derived from the largest size, and then each can be optimised by the user.


There should be Toolbox categories, a bit of separation would improve the ease of use (speed) of the toolbox. Even 3px between groups of tools would help. No collapsing of groups or labelling. Also in some of the menus we need to introduce more separation lines to speed up the use of them.


There should be easy way to set up a pixel grid.


  1. We can think about importing a palette from Inscape (but it seems there are no real palettes there, right now), because the colors already exist. If that is not possible, it has to be easy to start and put together your own palette. User should be able drag his colors to the palette and GIMP should make these persistent.
  2. At the moment it is possible to Save the palette but not Export it. Importing/exporting has to be possible for sharing palettes and to to archive a palette with the project files.
  3. Maybe the effect/filter applied wouldn’t have to be on a new layer, because you could still enhance the img in Freehand, or Inscape.
  4. for web work, Websafe colors and VisiBone colors are the standards. These might be locked.
  5. If palettes would be in FG/BG dialog, user could use Palette mode, and from here he could chose his palette.
  6. User should be able to group palettes in folders, drag them around. New Palette, Delete Palette, Duplicate should be possible.
  7. Why should editing a palette be so difficult: whenever one can pick a color, you can also add it to a palette.
  8. Managing palettes should be possible with two dialogs, maximum: FG/BG color editor connected with a new kind of ‘palette editor’. Maybe this new editor could be grouped with the FG/BG color editor.
  9. Project repository- these palettes need to be more project oriented. The 'blobs of paint' palette concept, as discussed in 'creating original art', has a more temporary focus, and is unique to the particular image file.
  10. It could be possibility to drag filters to fg/bg, as a metaphor for painting with filters.
  11. Applied filters would be stored in history, it would be possible to drag out a filters, change its parameters and apply again.


We are not sure what is the best zoom (100% or rather 400%) to work on effects like shadows.

Convert into smaller sizes and optimizing

  1. The basis for a small sized version of an icon is a resized large version. The user then applies her optimisations on top of this.
  2. We keep all sizes of an icon in one GIMP file.
  3. We need to decide whether to always overwrite the smaller icon sizes. It shouldn’t be "completely" automated to apply changes from SVG to all icon sizes in GIMP.
  4. Idea: clever automated system. When the SVG gets updated, high resolution icon (the biggest one, that you are working with at the beginning) would get updated and then the smaller icons that would be derived from it. But there should also be a option where user would chose which icon (e.g. size 128 or 32) should be the basic for a smaller one (size 16).
  5. It should be possible to us several SVGs as the basis for one icon, in a single layer.
  6. Apart from choosing from a standard set of icon formats, the user should be able able to set up a custom set of required icon sizes (e.g. 48, 32, 16) for an special icon format.
  7. We have assumed that there are just fixed aspect ratio like 16x16, with exception for mac: 16x12.
  8. When making radical changes (like color) in the SVG, the amount of re-work needed in GIMP should be absolutely minimal, optimally changing only one or two optimisation pixels in the smaller icon sizes.

Icon brushes

Having a paintbrush that is a square is necessary. Maybe also diamond shape.


Separate zoom value should belong to one icon of a specific size. So when shifting between icons with different size, user always see the best zoom for selected icon.

Copy Layer

When creating a copy of an SVG-based layer, after updating the SVG, the copy layer should also update.


When working on icons, transparency is part of the result, and therefore it is important to be able to control it directly.

Selecting pixels

We need to investigate if changing single pixels is supported well enough with the current toolbox tools. Is special selection of single pixels needed? This has to be done only for the icon workflow, but not for web designers for ex. (we need to be careful about that when creating design solutions).

Dodge & Burn tool

Choosing one of the light ranges: shadows/midtones/highlights is disturbing in this scenario.

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