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[ /home/tek/domains/ | 72 ][ ] > issue > 12 > Foood for Thought Editor's Notes Follow-up Interview with Xymantix Skinning on the Edge Notes on Corporate Logo Design Xerraire — The Talkative One n05feratu — Art that Hurts to Look at Sell your Skin Foood for Thought Mormegil — Man or Icon Whodunnit?

Foood for Thought

Believe it or not there are a few of us who have still not switched over to the XP operating system. Yeah, I know, it's sad, but it's true. And for a raging dinosaur like myself, there has been no attraction to get any of those PNG-based icons you see rolling around the skin sites… Until

A few weeks ago the web exploded with “dock” programs… emulators of the mac nav, and lo and behold, even an antiquarian system like WIN2K could run them. So, off I went looking for those PNG icons, and I didn't have to go very far.

Like a lot of folks, I found my way to the House of FOOOD. The quality of the work was exemplary, well thought out, and pleasing to the eye Looking at all the nice pretty icons made me wonder who was behind it all…

Tek: Who is Foood? Where are you from, geographically, what do you do in the “real world”, work, play, etc?

Foood: My name is Jono & I live in Chesterfield, a town in the the north of England.

My job in the real world is as a decorator, but for how much longer I don't know? This whole icon/image making thing is taking off & for the past 6 weeks I've been switching between the two.

One of my main passions is food [hence the name] & video games. Indian food, Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, Greek food, Thai food etc… I could talk all day about it ;)

I also like playing games over the internet but since making icons I rarely get the time these days.

Tek: How long have you had your own website?

Foood: I set up this website early this year. I can't really remember when, roughly around early January? I originally set it up on the free webspace my ISP provides but it didn't offer much webspace so I set up & now have 200mb.

Tek: How did you get into icon design?

Foood: Up until around this time last year I'd made the odd few icons for myself which were nothing special.

For me after Windows XP came out I really liked the new icons but wanted a few more of the folders to stick on my desktop. I saw some pictures [not icons] on a few websites like My Downloads [an XP folder with an arrow pointing downwards] & one like a My Web Sites [one of an XP folder with a globe in it]. They were just what I wanted, so I looked all over for the actual icons but couldn't find them.

I emailed the site owners to ask where I could get the actual icons from. They couldn't remember where they got the images from but pointed me towards the Neowin forums. I posted a question there asking where I could get the icon versions of the images. No one knew but a lot of people said if you do manage to find them let us know. They really liked them also & wanted the icon versions too.

I couldn't find them so I thought I'll make it myself. The hardest thing was finding out how to get icons into Photoshop & then convert images to icons. Once I'd figured that out it was pretty easy. I got the normal Windows XP open folder icon into Photoshop & then made a template from it. Basically I had the back of the folder on one layer & the front of the folder on another layer & made the front one semi transparent.

Then it was just a case converting more Windows XP icons to Photoshop format & placing them between the folders.

So I remade the My Downloads icon & the My Websites icon as I'd seen them on the website.

Foood: I was pretty pleased with them & thought I'd stick them on Neowin for the other people that wanted them, & it all carried on from there… The reaction was really good & then people would be saying can you make a My Programs icon, can you make a My Themes icon etc…

I kept on making them & soon had quite a few so I thought I'd put them on my free webspace so they were all in one place for people to download.

As I said it was pretty easy really. Just take one icon & place it inside the XP folder. Then I started getting a little more adventurous, making the odd original image & placing them inside the folders. Then making the odd original icon on their own [not in an XP folder].

It carried on from there until I got to the point where I was making icons from scatch with using other images [XP iCandy & Urban PPL XP].

Tek: Has the recent glut of “dock” programs changed things for you much… I mean, I know I just found out about your work about two weeks ago, mainly because of the icons in that litestep dock… are you getting a lot of new fans?

Foood: Not really. It started to really take off for me once I started making original icons from scratch at 128x128. Since then it seems to have gone crazy.

The icons were pretty popular anyway before the docks came out but what has changed is that I used to make icons up to 48x48 size. Some of the other icons makers were creating icons up to 128x128 & editing their registry to show the icons on their computers at 128x128 [& even 256x256]. I wasn't too bothered about having my icons set at these sizes so I carried on making them at 48x48.

Then as I started making icons from scratch I thought I might as well make them at 128x128 just to keep everyone who uses them happy. Plus it's no extra work to make them at this size & they do look better at the bigger sizes. Then after I'd made a few of these sets at 128x128 MobyDock came out which uses .PNG files at 128x128. I converted a few of my icons to .PNG format for myself to use with MobyDock but didn't make the .PNG files available on my website as the docks weren't that popular at that time. Then as I started making the XP iCandy set I converted them all to .PNG format & when I released the XP iCandy set on my site I made the .PNG files available for download as well as the normal Windows icons. At this time MobyDock was really taking off & we now have Y'z dock as well which also uses 128x128 .PNG files. There's also the Stardock dock & the Litestep dock that I know of, both of which I've never tried.

Tek: It is cool that you posted some PSactions for download… planning to do any more of those? perhaps some PSstyles as well?

Foood: I made those actions to resize & make a separate files of an image to then make as an icon [as did quite a few of us icon er… people]. That was when I used GIF Movie Gear to convert the .PSD files to icon format.

Now that IconWorkshop is out we don't really need those actions. You just make your largest size icon image in Photoshop [e.g. 128x128] then use the IconWorkshop plugin filter [in Photoshop] to send it over to IconWorkshop. You can create the icon with all the sizes [128x128 down to 16x16] & even apply IconWorkshop's own sharpening filter to sharpen the icon sizes as it creates them. This saves a lot of time.

I do create quite a lot of actions for myself but mainly just to automate tasks that I do often. I don't think any that I use at the moment would particularly help other people wanting to make icons. They just speed up the mundane tasks. I'd just say to people if you're creating an icon set & are doing the same thing throughout the set, create an action for it to speed things up. For example if you apply the same size & colour drop shadow & inner glow to every image create an action for it so you just hit a key & it does it for you :)

Tek: Your use of flash in your site navigation is very well done… how long have you been working with that, and do you have any general opinons about the use of flash on the net (we know some people who just hate it)?

Foood: Thanks :)

I've messed around with flash for quite a while on other sites & helped people out. I think there's a tendency to over do it with flash. Once you find out what it can do you tend to do it ‛because you can’ & not because it would improve the site. I'm as guilty as anyone here & have really gone mad with flash in the past.

I'm not too keen on flash only sites. Some will take quite a while to load & if you make a change to one page you may have to load up all the site next time you visit. I just prefer to use the odd bit of flash in a site here and there.

The navigation menu I made on my site was made for a resolution of 1024x768 & I can't really fit any more icons on the menu as it is, so I plan to remake it pretty soon.

I've thought of a way of remaking it so that it doesn't matter how many icons are used. They won't be falling off the screen & I should be able to make the icons a little larger too. I also plan to add some more flash to my site, so don't be suprised if my site turns out to be another one those totally overdone with flash sites ;)

[Hopefully it'll be OK].

Tek: Other than the obvious, are you using any specialized programs the rest of us would be interested in?

Foood: Well I could go on for ages about this… Obviously to make the images I use Photoshop. Also I used to use quite a few different apps to do different things: GIF movie Gear, Microangelo, IconShop etc…

Now I just use Photoshop & IconWorkshop, along with Stuffit Expander [to uncompress Linux & Max OSX icons].

When IconWorkshop came out I thought it was pretty good. It combined a lot of the features of the other icon apps but it wasn't that good that I could stop using the other apps.

I posted a few questions in the IconWorkshop forum & Marc Emile of Axialis software contacted me saying he'd seen my icons & wanted my opinion on his software. I told him some points I liked & other things I didn't like & made a few suggestions. His reaction was really positive & he explained that he's a software creator, not an icon creator & liked my ideas.

To cut a long story short me & another excellent icon maker called Marvilla started working with Marc suggestions ideas for what we'd like in the ‛perfect’ icon software. Marvilla was great in keeping on at Marc to perfect the sharpening feature untilhe'd got it just how we want it :)

Marc has continued to upadate the software using our ideas & his own & has produced a great piece of software. He's still updating it & plans to add more features in the future.I think that every idea that me & Marvilla has suggested he's either added the feature or plans to add the feature at a later date.

He's turned it into the best icons software there is & it's got to the point where we don't need to use any other icon software. One of the last features he's just added is a real boost for people getting into using the docks. He's added a batch create .PNGs, .PSDs & .BMPs from icons feature. You can convert a whole set of icons to .PNG format to use with the dock with just a few clicks.

I don't think there's many software companies out there that listen to what people want & implement it to that extent :D

Tek: Who are some of your “inspirations” in the field of icon work?

Foood: Marvilla (Iconica) is a great icon artist & has continued to help me, teach me, offer advice & opinions in just about every way.

everaldo's Crystal icons have had everybody drooling over them, me included.

Then he contacted me saying how much he liked my icons & wanted to add my XP iCandy set to his ongoing Crystal theme. I was thinking he's telling me how much he likes my icons? The whole world's gone mad! LOL!

Hein Mevissen (Mix the Pix) makes great icons. You'll be able to see some of his style my icons.

Sascha Hohne (RAD.E8) His new Snow E2 icon set is gorgeous. Simple as that…

Make sure to visit the FOOOD website (if you haven't already). Big thanks to Jono for taking time out to speak with Tek…

— Kenray, January 9th 2002

Editor's Notes Follow-up Interview with Xymantix Skinning on the Edge Notes on Corporate Logo Design Xerraire — The Talkative One n05feratu — Art that Hurts to Look at Sell your Skin Foood for Thought Mormegil — Man or Icon Whodunnit?
©2003 – don't believe the hype
looting Mick & Gorm's fridge for a mere 0.017163038253784 seconds
lost souls have stranded upon these shores thus far
(of whom came back to haunt the living)