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I'm a computer programmer, and find myself needing to draw icons frequency. Does anyone out there have any good resources for both the tools and how to design icons?

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Paint (j/k)! for favicons you can play with favicon.cc. –  zzzzBov Jan 5 '11 at 2:05
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6 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The best icon set I've used has to be the Fugue Icon set by Yusuke Kamiyamane. The set is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution License and royalty-free for a reasonable fee. It's a great deal considering there are 3300+ detailed icons. You also get the PSD files too. I find these icons are especially good for web apps. The down side is they're 16x16.

If you want to create your own, I suggest reading tutorials on http://tutsplus.com, especially http://vector.tutsplus.com since icons should be created in vector for scaling..

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vector for scaling is true for any other images. But if you want a good icon set, you should do it in vector (lazy way :D) and then refactor it almost pixel per pixel for every size and moreover for small resolution icons and their readability. –  Shikiryu Jan 5 '11 at 11:32
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IconWorkshop is nice. You can open a PNG file here and save it as an icon file. I use this.

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Visual Studio (especially 2010) includes a large set of icons, in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\VS2010ImageLibrary\1033\VS2010ImageLibrary.zip

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Yes, well - this is a good resource for picking from a set of standard windows toolbar buttons, but not really a good resource for designing icons. I use it a lot when I don't have time to create any of my own. –  awe Oct 10 '11 at 6:36
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If you're using OS X, I tend to like Pixen, myself.

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I'm using Greenfish Icon Editor Pro. It is totally free of charge! It is by far the best free icon editor I have ever tried. I specially like the feature to replace a color component with transparency. This is great to remove a background color and preserving smooth edges on the image.

From the description of the product on the download site:

GFIE Pro is a powerful icon, cursor, animation and icon library editor. Layer support with advanced selection handling makes it a really professional and unique freeware tool for designing small pixelgraphic images. GFIE offers high-quality filters like Bevel, Drop Shadow and Glow; supports editing animated cursors and managing icon libraries. It's lightweight (< 1.8 MB unzipped) and also has a portable version - just unpack it to your USB drive and use it anywhere. A clean, customizable, multilanguage user interface makes it really easy to learn and use.

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I am a great fan of Icomoon. Loads and loads of free icons. You can upload your own svg-images (made in, for example illustrator) and then have a complete set scalable, easily accessible icons: http://icomoon.io/

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