Top 5 Free Icon Editors for the Pro Designer

There are a lot of Premium Icon Editors you could use, but if you look deeper there are FREE Icon Editors that are just as powerful (in some cases more so) as premium versions, easier to use than Photoshop or Illustrator, and can create amazingly polished professional icons.

Here are my top 5 FREE Icon Editors:

1. IcoFX 1.6

Icon FreewareURL: http://icofx.ro/.
Features: Support for Vista icon with PNG compression; Create icons for Windows 98 / ME / 2000 / XP / Vista; Support for Mac OS X icons; Convert Macintosh icons to Windows icons; Create icon libraries; Create favicon for websites or blogs; Easily convert images to icons; Add, change or delete icons inside exe files; Support for transparency (alpha channel); Batch processing for import, export and extract; Multiple language support; More than 40 effects + custom filter; Resolutions up to 256×256; Data types: 2, 16, 256, True Color, True Color + Alpha; Extract icons from 32 bit exe and dll; Import and export images; Transparent, Brighten/Darken, Blur/Sharpen tools.
View: This is by far the the best Free Icon Editor, with its feature list seemingly endless and the quality of the end product pheneomenal. Recommended.

2. Iconmaker

Icon FreewareURL: http://free-icon-editor.com/.
Features: Create and edit icons in either standard or custom sizes, in color depths up to 16 million colors. Standard icon sizes are 16×16, 32×32, 48×48; Make icons with transparency; Make icons for Windows XP in 32-bit color depth with 8-bit alpha channel; Paint images with pen, brush, airbrush, ellipse, rectangle, line, curve tools; Roll, shift and rotate images; Import and export .ico, .png, .xpm, .xbm, and .icpr formats; Sort images inside icons; Copy and paste images to other applications; Test icons.
View: Strictly speaking this isn’t free, but you do have a 30 day free trial. Overall this is an excellent editor, not as good as IcoFX, but very powerful and professional all the same.

3. IconDeveloper

Icon FreewareURL: http://www.stardock.com.
Features: Create & Edit Small Sized Icons (16×16); Create & Edit Standard Sized Icons (32×32); Scale Icons to different formats; Convert PNGs to icons; Create & Edit Windows XP formatted icons; Right click on images from Explorer and convert to icons; Convert images from clipboard (copy & paste) into icons; Create & Edit Very Large Sized Icons (48×48); Create & Edit any sized icons (any resolution, up to 256×256!).
View: There is also a premium version from Stardock which offers a few more features, the free version offers enough to make it a very good good editor. The interface looks amazing, making it the easiest editor to use.

4. aaIco Icon Editor 3.0

Icon FreewareURL: http://www.xceedz.com….
Features: This hasn’t got as many features as the rest, but is a great little icon editor, that will create basic icons. This would be great for the novice designer.

5. Greenfish Icon Editor Pro (version: 1.51)

Icon FreewareURL: http://greenfish.extra.hu/downloads.php.
Features: Easy to use, lightweight, requires no installation (portable); Supports file drag and drop; Has multilanguage support (included: English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Serbian, Spanish); Help also available in French, separate download; Click here to help us by translating the program; Sample documents are included; Uses dynamic color depth; Opens and saves in ICO, CUR, ANI, PNG, XPM, BMP and JPEG formats; Can create icons and cursors up to 256×256 @ 32-bit, which can also be PNG-compressed for use in Windows Vista(tm); Can create animated cursors; Can handle images up to 1024×1024 and larger; Can extract icons and cursors from executable files and icon libraries; Can batch convert image files to icons, or to another image format; Has advanced selection handling (marquee, lasso and wand tools, saving/loading selections from files); Offers various gradient styles for filling shapes; Lots of filters including Remove matte, Drop shadow, Inner/Outer glow and Bevel.
View: The interface isn’t as polished as IconDeveloper, not as easy to use as the rest (thats why I haven’t got it at Nu.1), but my god look at the feature list. This is an editor for the pro.

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Paul Andrew

Paul is the founder and editor of Speckyboy Design Magazine. He has many years experience within the web design industry and a passion for the latest web technologies and design trends. He lives in the small town of Inverness in the north of Scotland. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Comments

  • Just a note, but it looks like IcoFX is now trial/buy since they hit 2.0.  I was digging to go find the download site again (lazy to search the TB of hard drives) and found they wanted $59 for it now.  Its good software, but if you still have 1.64 around it was freeware.

  • Massimo Mula

    I’ve tried IcoFX, IconMaker and Greenfish, here’s my opinion:

    – IcoFx: I use it regularly, v. 1.64 is the last free version but somewhat limited since it does not support layers and effects are quite limited.
    Newer versions seem to be better but unfortunately the are now commercial.
    v.1.64 is still a nice editor if your icons are not too complex (i.e. with lightings, transparencies etc.)

    – IconMaker: it is advertised as ‘free’ but it is actually a 30-day evaluation version.
    I installed it, anyway, just to be flooded with ad screens and other nags inviting to buy the full version and more icon packages.
    In addition icon size is limited to 64×64 and several important parameters are locked.
    Removed immediately: they have lost a potential customer.

    – Greenfish: In my opinion the one which offers the best functions.
    Unfortunately it has some stability problem (at least, on my PC), i.e. after you create an icon from image, it is often impossible to edit its pages unless the Editor is closed/reopened; In addition, several Access violation error messages appear randomly (i’m using WinXp 32bit, SP3).
    Think I’ll try to contact the programmers: maybe the bugs will be solved in future releases.
     

    By now, I think the DEFINITIVE free icon editor does not exist yet.

    Regards,
    MAx – Italy

  • I used to use IcoFX, but when I updated it, they moved me into a 30-day trial that I didn’t like. I went looking for alternatives and so far, Greenfish icon editor is the best I’ve found. Its great for making professional-looking icons, and has many advanced functions and features.

  • Martinnova

    Good comments, very helpful.
    I used to work on a Windows PC using Axialis IconWorkshop to do the odd icon design. It fully integrates with Photoshop and works like charm. But now I am working on a Mac, and there seems to be no real alternative. As a professional I am of course ready to pay for a good program as I did with Axialis’ program. But so far I have not seen any that comes close.