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1. FTI Icons

1.1 Introduction

FTI icons have a characteristic three-dimensional feel, which is primarily due to the simulated orthographic projection, a combination of color shades simulating spot light sources, and occasionally additional artifacts, such as shadows. Oftentimes, otherwise simple FTI icons can be artistically very expressive.

FTI icons are essentially vector graphic images with a fairly limited set of shapes: arcs, polygons, polylines, and point clouds. These objects can be colored with a fill color, while polygons can also be outlined with a separate color. In the implementation of FTIEditor, arcs are not (yet) provided explicitely and need to be constructed using polylines.

The set of available colors is also fairly limited to a selection of 136, which include 10 solid colors (black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, white, dark gray, and light gray), and 126 dithered colors, each mixed from two of the solid colors. 2-color dither patterns come in the form of two configurations: 1. even amounts from both colors in an interleaving dot pattern, and 2. a 75%/25% split in an every-other-column, every-other-row dot pattern.

Figure 1.2: 3D FTI Icons
Because of the intrinsic nature of vector graphics, heavily up-scaled instances of these images do not exhibit pixelation patterns, which make vector-icons attractive. Depending on their simplicity, their data representation can be very compact. However, their limited set of colors, lack of transparency, and missing tools for gradients and anti-aliasing effects present a significant disadvantage for FTI icons.

By design, an FTI icon is dimensioned at 100 * 100 pixels. However, vertices are represented by floating point values, therefore opening the relatively small area to a virtually infinite grid of points.

1.2 Implementation of FTI Icons

In the scope of the FTI Icon Editor, FTI icons largely remain true to their original specifications and representation. The only notable difference pertains to the representation of color. Even though the color palette features the same basic and mixed colors, the original dither has been replaced by 24-bit mixing. Nonetheless, the numerical color IDs from the FTI specifications are preserved, so that an FTI icon remains compatible.

One notable exception to compatibility exists with polygon outline colors. IconSmith provides a separate set for outline versus fill colors for polygons. Outline colors include a set of 16 unique colors, whereas fill colors can be drawn from a set of 136. Instead of limiting outline colors to 16, FTI Editor allows outline colors to be drawn from the complete set of 136 colors. For compatibility, FTI Editor does feature a separate color chooser ( Basic Colors), which corresponds to IconSmith's outline color selection. Depending on the purpose of an icon, its design should be sensitive to outline color selection.

Figure 1.3: IconSmith Color Chooser
Figure 1.4: FTI Editor Color Chooser