Creating Windows icons can be a challenge. Regular image editors aren’t optimised for the process – that’s if they have ICO support at all – while specialist icon designers are often bulky and complex.
Seanau Icon Toolkit is a free icon editor which applies a few tricks to make the process much more straightforward.
At its simplest, you could use the program as a basic converter, opening an image in a regular format (GIF, JPG, PNG, BMP) and saving it as an ICO.
The Layers tool makes this more interesting. Import a PNG image with transparency, say, and you could blend this with a button (also imported, or one you’ve drawn yourself), then use the built-in effects to add shading, a reflection, drop shadow and more.
There are further tools to flip and rotate an image, while sliders allow you to adjust hue, saturation, brightness and contrast.
Simple drawing tools provide other ways to customise your design, although they’re strictly essentials-only: Line, Pencil, Rectangles and Ellipses with optional gradient/ radial fills.
Although this sounds – okay, is – reasonably basic, the ability to work with layers individually and blend them as you like does provide lots of creative control.
When you’re finished, the results may be exported as a simple ICO (only one resolution though), or a PNG with transparency if you’d like to work on it somewhere else.
We wouldn’t use Seanau Icon Toolkit to create an icon from scratch, but if you just want to work with some existing images then the program can deliver good results in just a few clicks.