Do you want to decorate your desktop? Custom icons can go a long way in making you feel like your computer is yours. With free image editing software (like GIMP), you can quickly turn any image you need into a beautiful, scalable icon that can be used anywhere. See Step 1 for how to do this.
Part 1 of 2: Preparing the image
Step 1. Get or create your base image
You can use any graphic file to create the icon, but it must be at least 256 x 256 px in size. This will allow it to scale well between all the different icon sizes. It doesn't matter if the image contains things you don't want to include in the final icon; you will delete anything you don't want to keep.
- Keep in mind that the icons are square, so your image should fit nicely into the square. If it's too long, the icon will most likely look squished.
- If you create icons for Mac OS X, they can be 512 x 512 pixels.
- You can create your own images from scratch using your favorite drawing software, or you can use any photo, drawing, or other image file.
Step 2. Install an image editing program
In order to create an icon file, you need a slightly more powerful program than Paint. You can use Photoshop, but free image editors like GIMP and Pixlr will work just fine.
This tutorial uses GIMP as this free program is available for all operating systems. The process is very similar to Photoshop and Pixlr
Step 3. Open the image in the editor
Open uploaded or generated image with GIMP. The image will appear in the window in the middle of the screen.
Step 4. Add alpha channel
The alpha channel is a transparency layer. This will allow the icon to have a transparent background when you erase parts of the image that you don't need. To add an alpha channel, right-click on a layer in the Layers Palette window on the right side of the screen. Select "Add Alpha Channel".
Step 5. Paste the Quick Mask
Quick Mask allows you to easily get rid of unnecessary image details that you don't want to keep. To insert a Quick Mask, press ⇧ Shift + Q. A red layer will appear on the image.
Step 6. Erase the mask over the part you want to keep
Select the eraser from the toolbar window on the left side of the screen. Use the tool to remove the red layer above the part of the image that you want to keep. For example, if you have an image of a phone lying on a table and you want to use the phone as an icon, erase the red layer only from the phone.
- Use the Tool Options tab in the Toolbox window to adjust the size of the eraser. You can also zoom in to make sure you erase exactly what you want.
- When removing a mask, only remove the mask, not the image below it.
Step 7. Switch from mask
Once you're done clearing the mask of the part you want to keep, press ⇧ Shift + Q again to remove the mask. The part of the image that you erased will be selected.
Step 8. Remove the background
Press Ctrl + I or choose Select → Invert. This will select everything in the image except for the part that has been erased from the mask. Press Del to remove the selection, leaving only the theme of your icon.
Part 2 of 2: Creating an Icon
Step 1. Resize the canvas
Click Image → Canvas Size. In the window that appears, click the chain icon to separate the width and height. Resize the canvas to a size that shows the subject well and make sure the width and height are set to the same value.
- Use the Offset values to position the image in your new canvas before clicking the Resize button.
- After you've resized the image, right click on the layer and choose "Layer to Image Size". This will resize the borders of the layer to fit the canvas size.
Step 2. Adjust the color
If you want, you can use the GIMP color tools to change the color of the image. The easiest way to do this is to choose the Color → Colorize commands and then play around with the settings until you find the color that you think looks best.
Step 3. Create different sizes of the icon
The final step in creating an icon is to ensure that the image supports all different sizes of the icon. This is important if you want to be able to use the icon in different areas of the operating system and want them to scale as the icon grows or shrinks.
- Copy the layer. Click on Layer in the Layers window and press Ctrl + C.
- Set the scale of the original layer. Open the Scale tool by pressing ⇧ Shift + T and scale the image to 256 x 256 pixels. Click on Image → Fit Canvas to Layers. (Note: if you are creating an OS X icon set, start with 512 X 512).
- Create the first copy. Press Ctrl + V to paste the layer. Click Layer → To New Layer. Open the Scale tool and resize it to 128 X 128.
- Create a second instance. Press Ctrl + V to paste the layer. Click Layer → To New Layer. Open the Scale tool and resize it to 48 X 48.
- Create a third instance. Press Ctrl + V to paste the layer. Click Layer → To New Layer. Open the Scale tool and resize it to 32 X 32.
- Create a fourth instance. Press Ctrl + V to paste the layer. Click Layer → To New Layer. Open the Scale tool and resize it to 16 X 16.
Step 4. Explore your layers
You should have 5 layers, each with a smaller image than the last. If any of them looks blurry, open the Sharpening Tool by clicking Filters → Enhance → Sharpen. Set the slider to a position where the image is not clear.
Step 5. Save the image as an icon
Click the File → Export menu. In the Export Image window, change the extension in the top field to ".ico" and choose a location to save the icon. A window will appear asking if you want to compress any of the layers. Check the box to compress the two largest layers if you are not using Windows XP.
Step 6. Use the icon
After you have exported the image to the. ICO format, you can use it to replace the icon of any file or folder you need.
- Read this guide on how to change the icon on your Windows computer.
- Review this guide to change icons on a Mac OS X computer. You will need to use a free online converter to change an. ICO file to an. ICNS (Mac file icon format) file.