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Using Android Asset Studio

The website Android Asset Studio offers a Java programmer, or any programmer for Android devices, a growing list of utilities to help them create good-looking widgets.

Many programmers, like any "geek," may have trouble with visual elements. For example, fashion sense may be a mystery to them — no one's clothing looks unfashionable to them — especially not their own. Or when they visit an art museum, they can't tell a masterpiece from an accidental coffee spill.

If you're a programmer that meets this description, you might also find that you have the same problem when creating apps or web pages. You can develop complicated code to perform fancy tasks, but you can't make a web page look pretty. No matter what you do, you're afraid that your designs look bland and uninteresting. Of you get nervous when you create visual elements for your Android apps: you simply don't trust yourself to do the job effectively.

That's where the Android Asset Studio can help.

One of the utilities in the Android Asset Studio collection is the Action Bar and Tab Icon Generator. You can reach the utility directly by visiting http://android-ui-utils.googlecode.com/hg/asset-studio/dist/icons-actionbar.html. (See the following figure.)

The Action Bar and Tab Icon Generator.
The Action Bar and Tab Icon Generator.

To use the Action Bar and Tab Icon Generator, do the following:

  1. In the Source section, select IMAGE, CLIPART, or TEXT.

    Selecting IMAGE opens a dialog box to browse for pictures on your computer. Selecting CLIPART opens a palette of simple, ready-made images. (Refer to the following figure.)

    Some ready-to-use clipart.
    Some ready-to-use clipart.

    Selecting TEXT provides space for you to type a string of characters and a font. (Refer to the next two figures.)

    Using the default font.
    Using the default font.
    Using Courier New font.
    Using Courier New font.
  2. While you're still in the Source section, select TRIM or DON'T TRIM. Also, select a padding percentage.

    Trimming and padding are the opposites of one another. Trimming removes the outer parts of your image; padding adds additional space around your image. With the TRIM option, you can shave off part of your picture or text, but with the DON'T TRIM option, no shaving takes place. (Refer to the following four figures to see how settings affect your icon.)

    No trimming and no padding.
    No trimming and no padding.
    Trimming without padding.
    Trimming without padding.
    Trimming with negative padding.
    Trimming with negative padding.
    No trimming and positive padding.
    No trimming and positive padding.
  3. In the Name section, type a name for your new icon.

    In the following figure, you type the name my_icon. When you finish this set of instructions, you'll have a .zip file containing four icons, each named my_icon.png. (Refer to the second figure just below.)

    A name for your icon.
    A name for your icon.
    Four icons for four Android screen densities.
    Four icons for four Android screen densities.
  4. In the Theme field, select HALO LIGHT, HALO DARK, or CUSTOM.

    Selecting HALO LIGHT or HALO DARK gives you the standard coloring for Android's Halo themes. (Refer to the next two figures.) If you select CUSTOM, you get a palette for choosing your own color scheme. (Refer to the last figure.)

    Halo light icons.
    Halo light icons.
    Halo dark icons.
    Halo dark icons.
    Using a custom color.
    Using a custom color.
  5. Last (and maybe least), click the page's DOWNLOAD ZIP button.

    When you do, you get a .zip file containing the icons that you created. You can paste those icons into your Android project's res/drawable folders.

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