An online friend of mine who I met on the massive Amiga Facebook group, Tim Kovak, keyed me into an awesome program for creating custom Workbench 1.3 icons. The program is called Icon Master.
There were at least two versions of Icon Master released - one being the free-to-use Shareware version, the second being the paid version with a few extra features. There is a program on Aminet named Icon Master - and it is not the same. You can safely avoid that program.
I ultimately found the shareware version on the Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) website, which created and still hosts entire disks they assembled back in the day called DiskMAGs, which you had to pay for back then. http://www.memphisamigagroup.net/ They distributed the disks from 1987-1996. These days, the DiskMAGs - which were carefully curated disks of public domain (PD) software, much like Fred Fish disks or DevWare. In any case they are all freely available these days and are under a creative commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5) license.
These DiskMAGs were associated with “MAGazines” that they still have records of as well.
The disk in question that contains Icon Master is from June, 1989. Here it is on the MAG site. We're also hosting a copy of this disk, with permission, here on AmigaLove, too. (We'll likely host many more MAG disks as well in the near-future.)
Folks, these disks are freaking awesome and a treasure trove of pure goodness. I’ve moved the disk with the original Icon Master here for you to easily grab (and may move a lot more), but I highly recommend you browse their entire catalog. So good.
Icon Master for Workbench 1.3 Icon Master provides a lot of pop right off the bat. You can create images from scratch, open images and convert them to icons, save off just the “flags” or tool types of a given icon, etc. But to keep it simple, this is how I have used Icon Master so far to make some fun icons. I plan on making several more. It’s a ton of fun! Why not?
Let’s say you want to create an icon for one of your partitions, which currently all look the same. You only want to change one - not all - to start.
- Launch Icon Master
- Go to “Open” in the top pulldown menu. Navigate to your drive and find the file Disk.info. That’s the file that contains the artwork and info for your given icon. Select it and open it.
- You should see your hard drive icon - twice - on the screen. The icon on the left is the “Primary” icon, which is what you always see when you boot the machine. The other image on the right is the “Secondary” image, or the click-state.
- Go to the top of the screen and right-mouse-click to invoke the menu systems and choose “Edit Image - Primary”
- You’re now in the Editing (or Drawing) mode. This is where the magic happens. And Icon Mastery.
At the top of the screen are 10 color “gadgets” or swatches. They seem fairly limiting but this is actually where the fun comes in. The lack of color options forces you to be more creative with your choices. There are only 4 true colors, but some of the “colors” are really two of the four alternating side by side, which create the illusion of a new color. For example one of the colors is navy blue - the color of your Workbench desktop. Another color is white. A third is light blue - but light blue is really an “ink” that alternates between navy blue and white for you in single-pixel increments. And this pixel art 101 trick fools our eyes into thinking we see light blue.
Something worth noting: While most people think pixels are perfect squares - and this is typically the case - when stretched onto a 4:3 screen the pixel actually looks like a long vertical rectangle twice as high as it is wide. So, for me to create a perfect tiny square on the screen, I would need to click twice side by side. A single click gives you something more like || whereas two clicks looks like ||| (imagine that being a solid block).
Beyond the palette options there are of course the drawing tools themselves. There is a free-hand pen tool, a line tool, a bordered rectangle and circle tool, and a solid fill rectangle and circle tool, and a text tool. There is also the ability to fill an area (think paint bucket tool from photoshop) and a clear tool. And, finally, there is a fabulous clone tool. I used this to quickly recreate my Lemming heads in one case so I didn’t have to meticulously copy them. It took me a moment to figure out how to use it, but once I did I fell in love. You click and drag a rectangle around the area you want to clone, then click to place it.
Oh, and there is only one single level of Undo. But at least there is an Undo. Just be prepared to re-draw or re-work experiments if you go too far down a creative rabbit hole.
All in all the program offers a very simply and intuitive interface. I've recorded a video demo and would encourage others to give it a shot. And if you do? Let us see what you come up with! Warning: once you get rolling, it can be very addicting!