Usability - SIG, Spin, Echo icons [was Re: Icon theme for ubuntu]

Martin Sourada martin.sourada at
Thu Nov 22 08:36:03 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-11-22 at 01:42 +0100, David Nielsen wrote:
> Generally, iso prespective make the icons look smaller, please remember
> that at this size both detail level and shape affects how easily you can
> utilize the brains wonderful pattern recognition abilities. I would
> strip the detail level down as much as possible and go for head on
> prespective. I would wager that the icons we display most often would be
> menu ones so they really deserve that extra attention and love. Another
> consideration with regards to prespective is that orientation matters in
> preception of size, twisted left seems smaller than twisted right
> because you appear to show off less surface area. The human brain is a
> strange beast.
Well, they does not only look smaller, but they also are smaller - you
have a wider view when looking at iso perspective than when you reduce
to plain 2D head on perspective. When creating new icons we are trying
to simplify the 22x22 sizes enough so they should be easily perceptible
if though they are in the isometric perspective. 

I don't see the problems you list, but it might be because I am only a
half a metre from the screen (which has 98 DPI). The icons appear only
less colourful after applying the filters, but the shape remains well

In 16x16 size all icons in Echo are done in the head on perspective and
I have to admit they are usually harder to create than the perspective
22x22 ones... 

Yet, the isometric icons you'll mostly see on the desktop, in file
browsers and in the main menus. The rest are either action icons or
displayed at 16x16. And for action icons we does not use isometric

The orientation was chosen by Diana and we just follow it, I cannot
imagine how the opposite orientation worked better.

> Add/Remove Software is very good, easy to spot, good shape use, colors
> work well across the colorblindness spectrum and it's head on
> prespective. A really good icon.
> The graphics icon is very hard to make out. I cannot I have to admit
> figure out what the office icon is suppose to look like, it does however
> seem to get better when the colorblindness filters are applied.
> Also notice how well the shape works for recognition for the games icon,
> low level of detail - despite even appearing small due to the iso
> prespective usage. It's also the only one to have a defined outline
> which really helps make the icon appear crisp and easy to recognize.
> This makes it work really well in every filter applied and I can make it
> out without my glasses on even from around 1m away.
> Where sexy and usable clashes is really the prespective, don't do iso
> unless at desktop icon size or above, you can candy it up with detail as
> size increases. Jimmac has a great article on his blog regarding the
> problems surrounding sizes and scaling icons[1].
> [1]
We are aware of some of the problems listed in the article. That's why
we decided to include 22x22 sizes as well. All new created icons should
come in 16x16, 22x22, 24x24, 32x32, 48x48 and scalable sizes and should
be optimised for these. The shape of the icons is the basic thing and we
are doing our best to define it well while retaining more realistic look
than tango does.

I would much appreciate if you take some time and went through the Echo
styling guidelines [1] and point out the problems that leads the icons
to not being ally, or propose some additions. Save for the perspective,
which we already agreed on (and because of the help of SVG versions it
is far more easier to change styling of the icons than their
perspective), we are quite open to changes.


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