Yesterday I tried to improve the style of my voxel editor goxel. One thing I wanted to do in particual is have better looking icons in the UI.

The current icons looked like that on my non retina screen:

goxel before

This is what I came up with:

goxel after

It’s interesting to work on art for computer screen because for such small size images, the pixels aliasing quality becomes primordial. For example in goxel on a non retina screen, the icons should all have a size of 22x22 pixels. On a double density screen, they are 44x44.

When you draw the icons (I use inkscape) you need to keep in mind the target size, since the rasterisation will make anything not pixel aligned blurry.

Here is an example of an arrow icon, and what it looks like exported as a 44x44 png image, and then resized to 22x22 using:

arrow before

The 22x22 version doesn’t look sharp, because the interpolation used when resizing blurred the separation between the lines. In order to prevent this we have to make sure that the source image aligns properly with the final 22x22 image pixel position:

arrow before

Unfortunately inkscape doesn’t have live preview of rastersized output, so it takes some tests to design proper looking icons. The trick (that I saw in blender) is to set up the inkscape grid as a fraction of a pixel, with one major grid line every pixel, that way it is easy to draw lines exactly centered into a given pixel. I also use lines thinner than a pixel to make the result look a bit softer:

add icon

add icon