RealWorld Icon Editor 2010.1 feature preview

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RealWorld Icon Editor 2010.1 feature preview

Published by on April 23rd 2010.

It has been two years since the last release and now a new version is very close. Here are the most important changes.

Improved image to icon conversion

This is a recurring topic. This time, the focus was on the user interface that will allow users to use the underlying V8 engine to the max.

Image to icon conversion window in RWIE 2010

The upper part of the window displays previews of the generated images. Large icon images are scaled down to fit in. Users can add their own, custom image sizes via the buttons above the preview box. It is also possible to quickly turn an image on or off using the checkbox next to it (the 20×20 pixels image is turned off on the screenshot). The Configure button allows users to change the effects applied on given image (sharpening, outline shadow + canvas extension).

The controls below the previews can be used to quickly set the outline shadow strength for all images. Users can also control background detection if the source image lacks alpha channel.

Users can also choose the type of icon generated (for Windows or Mac) and whether they also want the legacy, low-color-depth images (8 and 4 bits per pixel).

If you are the curious kind and if you happen to click the Configure button, you’ll see the following window:

Configuring one of icon's images

There, you can customize the image size and applied effects. Note that the shadow settings are set to “Automatic”. The application is now smart enough to decide for itself when and how to add outline shadow to your icons. That is, if you allow it to do so.

There are also some under-the hood improvements, too complex to explain in this post. The result of these tweaks is extra-smooth interior edges.

Images and icons with layers

Drawing good looking icons without layers is almost impossible. That is why RealWorld Icon Editor had and still has the integrated 3D editor. Not everyone likes creating icons in 3D and drawing them in a powerful raster editor with masks, layers and effects is a new alternative.

Icon files may now have layers

Layers are supported in both the image editor and in the icon editor. If an icon contains layers, it can be saved in a proprietary .ric format that preserves the layers and layer effects.

Keeping layers separated helps when additional changes are likely to be needed. When the checkmark is in a different layer than the background, it is very easy to move or recolor it.

Icon handling improvements

8-bit and 4-bit color depths are now handled differently than in previous versions. The raster editor window displays the icon pictures in full colors and including partial transparency. The preview window on the other hand displays the dithered and background-optimized version of low-color icons. The background color and alpha threshold is taken from application options.

3D tweaks

I have already talked about this major feature in an older blog post. In short, it is now possible to multiply and parametrize components in 3D models. This allows creation of rain, grass, stone walls, roofs and other objects that can be composed from multiple similar elements.

Multiplication of components is performed by adding a new variable called “iterator”. This variable is then used inside the component to parametrize it. The component is then drawn multiple times with increasing value of the iterator variable. It is possible to use multiple iterators.

Roof created from 3x5 tiles using iterators

The roof on the image above is created from 3×5 tiles. A single tile is multiplied using 2 iterators.

Other tweaks include:

  • Component on/off switch. This can be used to make quickly adjustable 3D objects. Imagine a 3D model of a person that may or may not have a hat or glasses. It may also include several hair styles or mouth positions with one of them currently visible.
  • 3D surface visible from both sides. NURBS surfaces now have a switch that instructs them to show or hide their reverse side.
  • Drag and drop .u3d files on the 3D editor window to add the dragged file as a new component.
  • New and improved predefined shapes: Prism, Tetrahedron, and Slope. Pyramid and Prism can have arbitrary number of sides. Cylinder can be rounded.
  • Improved clipboard handling. Copy and paste entire components.


Beside these visible new features, there are also multiple internal changes. Those 2 years that passed from the last version were not wasted.

And yes, the beta version is now available. If you would like to help looking for and reporting bugs, send me an email to

Recent comments

user icon sixλxis forum moderator on April 23rd 2010


Also, many impressive new features!


user icon Anonymous
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I wish there were...
What about ICL files?
Vista & Win 7 icons