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Theme icons offer users a means to customize their Android devices to their own liking in term of look and feel. This however doesn’t mean they offer everything you’d need, that’s why making your own custom icon is the next best thing. And it’s easier than you think. To make this possible, all you need is some creativity and a photo editor to make the most of it. You choose any type of photo editor, whether a Photoshop or even a cloud-based editor such as Pixlr.

As for the image to use as an icon, you can select any image available online and  have it set as an icon on your device, using a launchers that comes with support for custom icons, for instance Nova Launcher. However, you’ll notice that once you set an icon using this method, the icons will either appear much larger, completely filling up the icon square or the icon will have a border around it, since it lacks transparency. Luckily there are editing options for the intended icons that can greatly improve their look on the home screen. There are a few ways you can enhance your base image while it is in the photo editor, to make the entire process easier when setting it up in the launcher.

Transparency

Select the image around your intended icon using the magic wand tool. If the image has a solid color around it, simply select the outside area and tap delete. If the color or the area is replaced by black or white, then it means that either the layer of the image is locked or the editor you are using does not support transparency. Confirm by checking in the layers window (usually shown on the right side of the editor), that there is no lock beside the layer displaying your icon. If there is, double-click the lock icon found at the bottom of the layers window to remove it.

Borders and Outlines

Though Bordered icons may not look as clean, they are easier to create, set and keep uniformed. There are a number of ways you can make your icons bordered.

  • Photoshop brushes can be applied in the creation of borders outside your icon
  • The shape tool features an array of borders that can be employed for custom icons.
  • Copy/ Cut: You can use a magic wand along with Crtl+Shift+I  within PhotoShop to select the inverse of the brush or shape outline around an icon and then copy it to transform it into an icon stencil. Next move from the border you had based your layer on, on to the layer containing your image icon and right-click within the selected area then choose Layer via Copy. Have all the layers next to the newly created icon hidden and you’ll be left with a model icon cutter that can be reused for as many icons as you wish.

Icon Size

Although in most cases bigger usually means better, the same doesn’t apply to icons. Regardless of your phone’s display resolution whether it’s an HD or a 4K display, you’ll find that the icons are all really small. This doesn’t mean that icon size shouldn’t be a factor when creating them, it simply means that whether you save your custom icons as 500 pixel squares or 2000 pixel squares, the difference made on your home screen would only be minor.

Additionally, whatever the shape you choose for your icon, you need to make sure that the canvas you save remains squared as well as a bit transparent. If the icon you are left with is rectangular once you are done, then you can use the Canvas size setting to extend its canvas. Furthermore, ensure that your icon is placed at the center of the square to avoid the need to reposition it later on when you are setting it up in the launcher. Another important tip you need to remember is that since it’s a transparent image you need to save in a format that supports transparency, that is, in PNG.

Your own creativity

Considering anything can be made into a custom icon, it can be a little overwhelming to find inspiration for your desired icons. Although your custom icons are likely to be focused on particular themes, there are a couple of other ideas you can use for custom icons:

Game elements: The internet offers sheets of game icons for a variety of games whose elements you can divide to have achieve hundreds of options you can use for custom icons.

Recolor icons: If for instance a particular icon has an awesome design but its colors are not so great, you could always have PNG icons downloaded from launchers such as Nova, recolor them to your liking and then upload them as custom icons. You could even have your custom icons match a particular color-theme.

Other options include emoji, which can be used to represent how a particular app makes you feel or what it reminds you of; music elements such as custom icons from an album by your favorite artist or band; and even logos of different brands.

There are endless options for custom icons, the only thing limiting you is your imagination.

If you were to choose, what would you use as a custom icon and for what app? Let us know in the comments.

How to create your own custom icons on Android


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