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Making Tab and Menu Icons for Android

When developing mobile apps or designing graphics for Android apps, it is essential to conform to certain guidelines. Using graphics designed for different operating systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign icons will look out of place at best, or will render your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst.

Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Description: When designing mobile apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, one must conform to certain guidelines. Using icons designed for other operating systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign images will look out of place at best, or will make your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There are precise guidelines published for designing standard-compliant Android icons. Different design guidelines are available for tab icons and menu graphics.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

Tab icons are drawn in individual tabs in tabbed UI. Tab icons must be supplied in two distinct states: unselected and selected. It is required that tab icons are created as simple, flat shapes as opposed to images shown in 3D or isometric projection.

Android OS and Android apps are used on a variety of hardware platforms using a wide range of hardware. In reference to icon images, those devices can have different display sizes, display resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the wide range of screens, Android developers should supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be drawn on low, medium, and high density screens. Resolution-wise, the outer boundaries for the three resolutions are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Inner dimensions should not exceed 22x22, 28x28, and 42x42 pixels respectively. By including all three standard resolutions, developers can ensure that their apps will display properly on a wide range of platforms running the Android OS.

Menu icons are displayed in the "options" menu, and are shown to the user when they press the Menu button. Similar to tab icons, menu icons should be flat, greyscale images. Like tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen resolutions for menu icons are described in a slightly more complex way as opposed to to tab icons. Instead of two sizes defined for tab graphics (inner shape and boundary box), the inner shape of menu icons can be smaller or bigger depending on their shape. If a menu icon is square-shaped, its resolution should be smaller than for icons with different shapes. The reason for specifying two different size limits is to establish a consistent visual size across the two icon types.

The outer dimensions for ldpi, mdpi and hdpi icons are defined as 36x36, 48x48, and 72x72 pixels respectively. Inner shapes for square, low-definition icons is 22x22 pixels, while non-square icons should fit into a boundary box sized 24x24 dots. Similarly, mdpi icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boxes, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boxes respectively.

Instead of designing your own icons conforming to these guidelines, Android developers have an option of ordering stock graphics from professional designers. For example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab graphics in both states and all three standard sizes. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can produce images at any resolution by opening scalable vector sources. Android Tab Icons can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.aha-soft.com/stock-icons/android-tab-icons.htm.

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