Drawing New Icons
Wine cannot reuse Windows icons verbatim because of copyright issues so we have to redraw them. They should have a similar design to keep from confusing users, but they must be unique works. Ideally, they'll be nicer than the Windows icons too. B-) These icons will appear in both menus and file selection dialogs. In addition, some programs may need special icons for the system tray, or internal icons for toolbars and buttons.
Note: Wine currently has a complete (?, need to double-check with the mailing list) icon set that follows Tango design guidelines for icons. For reference, some quick information about how the icon files are formatted has been retained. However, more icons may be necessary in the future as Windows changes or adds new core applications.
Current Tango-Style Icons
Creating an .svg Icon Set
All icon files for a given component of wine are stored in that component's folder in the source tree. In order to allow for re-scaling without distortion, most icons were first created as scalable vector graphics, which also means an icon can be comfortably designed at a larger size to start.
The first version should be created in Truecolor (24-bit color depth with an 8-bit alpha channel). Copies of the icon can then be made at the 256 (8-bit) and 16 (4-bit) color-depths respectively. It is important to check the simplified copies for artifacts, making touch-ups in the smaller color palette if necessary. Also, be sure not to replace the alpha channel with an inappropriate background color by accident.
Although scaling is not an issue for the vector draft, Wine currently mimics Windows by using raster icons. Because of this and the fact that very small icons are often simplified for readability, the preceding steps should be repeated for icons that are designed to be read at sizes of 32x32 and 16x16 pixels. The first set of icons should be rescaled to 48x48 pixels, giving 9 different versions of the icon, one for each size and color-depth.
Finally, to match the format currently used in the Wine source tree, arrange these icons into a single row in a single .svg file, with the 48x48 versions on the left, then the 32x32 and 16x16 ones respectively. The bottoms of the icons should be aligned, and within each set, the icons should be ordered left-to-right, starting with the deepest colors. After this, ensure the icons are evenly spaced, using an 8 pixel strip between each copy and for the file's left and right border, then 16 pixel strips for the top and bottom borders.
Converting to Windows .ico Format
The initial .svg source copy of an icon set can be converted with any image editor (such as GIMP) that supports saving to Windows .ico format. Simply export the .svg image as a raster image, then split each of the nine copies of the icon into separate layers. Crop each layer to the size of its icon, then stack the layers on top of each other, aligning the top-left corners of each layer. Although the layer order may not be strict, it is preferred to mirror the order of the .svg file, with the largest, Truecolor icon on bottom and the smallest, 16 color icon on top. Then simply save everything as one .ico file.
Icons for Toolbars, Trays, & Buttons
Other types of icons used by Wine currently have a simpler structure. For an initial draft, just design your icons in .svg, with Truecolor and for viewing at 16x16 pixels. Arrange them in one file, using the intended display order for toolbars, with no separation or borders. For lone icons, such as those used for the system tray, they should be saved in their own separate files, again only 16x16 pixels. Then export your .svg files to Windows bitmap file.
Newer Windows Themes
Starting with Vista, Windows switched over to the Aero user-interface style, which prescribed much larger and more detailed icons in certain cases. Beginning with Windows 8, the user-interface has undergone even more radical changes with the new Metro guidelines. While adding such icons and features are at most a low priority for now, if and when Wine does adopt them, further work on program icons and graphics will be needed.
- MSDN resource on designing Windows XP style icons
- MSDN resource on Aero icons for Windows Vista/7
- MSDN index for Metro-style design features (still in flux)