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REVIEW: Iconian 3 by Chad Randall
By: Katherine Nelson
[Note: All example icons (in the IconianExamples directory) except
"BevelBox.info" have a MagicWorkbench version and a 32 color version. The
palettes are included. If the 32 color icons still don't look right after
using "ClickForColors_32", then flip to another screen, click on it, and
flip back. If that still doesn't work, I've included a ProcurePens config
file ("ProcureConfig") which lists the RGB values for the pens.]
Iconian 3 is an icon editing program for those of us who wish to express
greater creativity than allowed within IconEdit, part of our Workbench
installation. Iconian 3 is also for those of us who have no creative
ability, but wish to make our icons look reasonable well done. And
finally, Iconian 3 is for those of us that like to just screw around.
First off, it should be noted that Iconian 3 has a variable buffer size (up
to 128 X 100 in the unregistered version), a multiple-level undo feature
(the undo buffer can be up to 100k in the unregistered version), and
support for NewIcons. Iconian 3 also comes with several preset palettes
built in, including MagicWorkbench, NewIcons, RomIcons, JBCIcons,
Iconographix, and Magician. Iconian 3 can be run on the Workbench screen
or on its own screen, and can load and save preference files. Furthermore,
icon information and tooltypes can both be edited from within Iconian 3.
Among its vast array of features, Iconian 3 sports a variety of drawing
tools. There's the standard freehand drawing tools (dotted and connected),
the line tool, the empty and filled box tools, the empty and filled circle
tools, and the fill tool. Plus, the beveled box tool, the filled freehand
tool, the airbrush tool, the cut brush tool, the draw with brush tool, and
the font tool.
Skipping the familiar tools to IconEdit, we move on to the beveled box
tool. There are four basic shapes available, plus the reverses of those
shapes (recessed rather than projected), and each of those eight have
filled and open options, for a total of 16 different beveled boxes.
Unfortunately, there's no real way to tell the filled boxes from the open
boxes in the tool selection gadget (the filled ones are on the right), but
through the menu Paint/Bevel Box Type, it can be determined. At any rate,
these boxes allow for quick 3D appearances, and are most effective when the
normal view of the icon uses a projected box, while the selected view uses
a recessed box, or vice versa. The BevelBox icon included demonstrates the
The filled freehand, cut brush, paste brush, and font tools are what
Brilliance and Deluxe Paint users would expect. Six different brush areas
are provided for ease in switching between them. The only difference with
the cut brush tool is that it can only cut in rectangular shapes. A
freehand cutting tool would be helpful in sizing down parts of program
icons to create imagedrawers and such, but I felt no intense pangs of loss
from its absence.
The airbrush tool is definitely fun to play with. It has three size
options and focus and drip options. With focus on, the random pixels that
are colored tend to be more centralized instead of distributed fairly
evenly throughout the range. The drip option creates a "wet paint" look,
with dribbles that are longer while moving vertically than horizontally. I
found that although this option was interesting, there were just too many
drips for whatever I was drawing to be recognizable. Perhaps a variable
amount of drip is in order.
A dithering option is available, which affects all of the fill and filled
object tools. The dithering can either be transparent, where the backround
color shows through, or non-transparent, where the 2 selected colors are
dithered together. Ten different levels of dithering are available, from
none to 94%. There are also horizontal and vertical bars type dithers.
One thing that I feel is missing (and was in previous versions of Iconian),
is a gradient dither feature. A gradient dither is very helpful in
creating MagicWB-like icons, and nice looking icons in general. Mr.
Randall, please put this back in your program. I miss it.
There are several ways to manipulate a brush. There is a scale option,
with halving or doubling in the x and/or y direction, the brush can be
flipped, stretched, or its handle can be changed. There are also a number
of ways to paint with a brush: matte, color, replace, complement, smooth,
and rub thru. My favorite one of these to play with is the smooth option,
which the Data icons illustrate quite nicely.
The image can be altered in much the same way as a brush. There are
options for flipping, either the full buffer area, or with the "smart"
option, just the area with paint. The image can be moved or scaled in any
direction. Also, the image can be recolored in one or more of several
reversible ways: 1.3 to 2.0, 3 to 8 plane, use 2 planes, recolor one pen
with another, and swap 2 different colors. These recoloring options alone
make Iconian 3 a helpful utility for fixing icons for the "non-standard"
number of colors, or updating icons from older programs that had the 1.3
Before we move on to one of the most useful features of Iconian 3,
importing images, I would like to remind Iconian 3 users that when 32
colors+ palettes are used, the pointer colors are included in the palette.
If an image is imported and uses one or more of the pointer colors, and
then the pointer colors are later changed, the icon will no longer look
correct. Also, even if the pointer colors are all set to, say, black,
which is already in the palette, Iconian 3 has the habit of using the LAST
of the similar colors in the images. Therefore, while creating the icons,
change the colors in the 3 pointer places to colors that are not even close
to being in the picture you will import. A feature I would like to see in
future versions of Iconian would be the ability to set certain pens as
unusable in the images, and therefore eliminate this problem.
The image importing feature of Iconian 3 is quite useful for creating
interesting icons, thumbnails icons for pictures, or just about anything
else. Iconian 3 uses datatypes, so this feature can only be used on WB3.X
machines. It is nice to be able to import any image that I happen to have
a datatype for, and therefore I don't feel limited to any one type.
Iconian 3 can perform scaling operations while importing an image. An
image can be stretched to fit the buffer or its aspect can be changed.
Using a 1:1 aspect ratio and not choosing to stretch to fit will just leave
empty space in the buffer where appropriate if the picture does not have
the same x:y ratio as the buffer.
The images can be automatically remapped to the current palette, and there
are several different types of color quantization available when scaling.
I just used the default method, as I couldn't notice a large difference
Dithering can be enabled or disabled when importing a picture, and if
enabled, there are several different styles. I couldn't really tell the
difference between the styles, however, because of the small working area.
Perhaps the more discerning artist would be able, though. The Cat and
MaxHead icons demonstrate the differences with and without dithering. The
unselected images have the dithering off, and the selected images have the
In the Cat icon, the dithering makes it too fuzzy in the MagicWorkbench
version, and too yellow in the 32 color version. I found that in general,
dithering caused a lot of yellow and green pixels to be introduced, but
that is most likely just a fault with my palette. The MaxHead icon, on the
other hand, looks better with the dithering in both icons. The MagicWB
icon loses the lines on the right hand side without dither, and the colors
seem more correct in the 32 color version with dither on.
Iconian 3 is a very useful utility for anyone who needs to create icons, or
wishes to improve upon others. Even for the non-artists, the different
functions of Iconian 3 make it useful for simple changes and customization
of icons. Basically, this package is for just about everyone, and comes at
a very reasonable price ($15 US, or $10US with E-Mail address or SASE). It
is certainly worth a look or two.
229 S. Washington Street firstname.lastname@example.org
Manchester, Michigan http://www.msen.com/~crandall/