Graphic designers and the producers of icons for applications targeting the new Windows 8 Metro market introduced with mobile and desktop versions of Windows 8 have been lacking an appropriate drawing tool for too long. Fortunately, the newest release of Metro Style Icon Studio is now available to help.
The newly updated version of Metro Style Icon Studio now features the same Metro-style user interface it’s aiming at, helping icon designers get a better sense of the look and feel they’re targeting with their graphics. Metro Style Icon Studio adds a new Metro-style PNG template, and allows producing icons for Metro-style apps for Windows 8. While Metro Style Icon Studio can be used to produce icons in any style, its major goal is helping designers make monochrome Metro-style icons in layered PNG format with semi-transparent alpha channel making the icons blend seamlessly with the rest of the UI. With all the usual design tools and special effects readily available, Metro Style Icon Studio can be employed to quickly produce Metro-style monochrome icons from get go or to automatically convert a bunch of Vista or Windows7 images into the new format.
What’s New in Metro-style Icons
Microsoft Windows 8 is a newly released and a highly anticipated OS that features an all-new and rather controversial new style user interface. The redesigned UI is called ‘Metro’. The concept of the refreshed user interface is focused around the content, relying more on shapes and words rather than colorful graphics. While the concept is not completely new (applications such as Microsoft Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0 were using similar style), Windows 8 is actually the first desktop operating system to throw the new Metro-style interface at unsuspecting users.
For designers, there’s little new to Metro-style icons compared to earlier Vista and Windows 7 graphics. Similar to Windows Vista and Windows 7, the maximum resolution of these icons is 256×256 pixels. The high-res images are stored in the familiar layered PNG format featuring semi-transparent alpha-channel for easy blending with background. In Windows 8, the Explorer utilizes these high-resolution icons by default even on lower resolution screens. While this may seem odd, the system will instantly downscale the icons to make them appear crisp and detailed regardless of the size and resolution of the user’s display. This, in particular, allows Metro-style icons to be used and to appear great on all types of screens from regular VGA-resolution smartphone displays to quad-resolution large-diagonal screens used in professional applications.
Are Metro Icons Black and White?
Not black-and-white. While the designer will produce Metro-style icons in various shades of grey, the system will display them in all possible color combinations. For example, the Internet Explorer logo is usually white on a blue background, while other apps can be shown on red, orange, purple, green and other colored tiles.
Metro Style Icon Studio is free to try. The app runs in Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, and can be readily downloaded from Icon Empire .