Oxygen Icon Style Guide

The Oxygen Icon Style is currently a work in progress: This is the newest version, but several sections need expanding.

Oxygen's Approach to Icon Sizes

Oxygen icons are all scalable vector graphics (SVG) documents, which is the default format used by Inkscape. These SVG files are used to render bitmap images (PNG) at various sizes.

Oxygen uses the 128x128 'pixel' SVG files to produce icons at 5 different sizes: 128x128, 64x64, 48x48, 32x32 and 16x16 pixel images. 88x88 'pixel' SVG files are used to render at 22x22 pixels. Optionally, 16x16 pixel icons can be created in a 64x64 'pixel' SVG file.

For icons that are designed to be rendered at 32x32, 22x22 and 16x16 it is crucial that icons elements align to pixel boundaries of the rendered icon to improve legibility. After rendering to 22x22 and 16x16, icons will probably need some hand optimization using the GIMP. There is little point in making a 22x22 and 16x16 PNG icon if all that was done was to export a PNG from the 128 pixel SVG.

Various templates are provided to assist you in creating Oxygen icons. They are linked to below.

Only action icons require the shadow at the bottom of the icon. For all other types you may remove this shadow.



  • Use the 32x32 template
  • Set the grid to 8 pixels
  • Preview the icon by zooming out to 13%
    • Quickly tap the minus key six times


  • Use an Inkscape document with dimensions of 64x64 pixels
  • Set the grid to 4 pixels
  • Preview the icon by zooming out to 25%
    • Quickly tap the minus key four times


  • Use the 22x22 template.
  • Set the grid to 4 pixels
  • Preview the icon by zooming out to 25%
    • Quickly tap the minus key four times


  • Use the 32x32 template
  • Set the grid to 4 pixels
  • Preview the icon by zooming out to 25%
    • Quickly tap the minus key four times



  • Use the 32x32 template
  • Set the grid to 4 pixels
  • Preview the icon by zooming out to 50%
    • Press the '2' key


  • Use the 32x32 template
  • Set the grid to 1 pixel
  • Preview the icon by zoom to 100%
    • Press the '1' key

Color Usage

Oxygen has a distinct, defined palette which should always be adhered to.


The Oxygen color palette is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

You can easily use the Oxygen Colour scheme in Inkscape by downloading the palette. To download the Oxygen Palette Click here

  1. Close Inkscape, if you have it running
  2. Place 'oxygen.gpl' in this folder: ~/.config/inkscape/palettes/
  3. Start Inkscape
  4. Select the Oxygen palette in the Swatches dialog (Ctrl+Shift+W).

Metaphors/Styles for different icon types


Action icons require a distinctive 1 pixel solid outline. Action icons are drawn to appear as they are on a shelf. This means that a small shadow is drawn directly beneath the icon.

The templates linked above include this shadow, therefore consistancy is ensured.


Application icons vary the most in style from cartoonish logos to photo-realistic (example and explanation needed)


Mimetypes all use the same paper sheet template (example and explanation needed)


Devices are the most realistic of all icons (example and explanation needed)


Places icons vary in style depending on whether the subject at hand can be defined by a physical object.


Emblems are icons overlaid on top of other icons. Examples of Emblems are the "'link arrow' and the 'mounted star' symbol. These icons should be noticeable but not detract and cover too much of the icon beneath them.


The mounted emblem uses the vibrant colours from the Oxygen palette. The form of the icon itself is very simple and clear.
Mounted Emblem

Exporting the PNG bitmaps

You can use inkscape to create PNG bitmap images of your icon.

  1. Press <Ctrl> + <Shift> + E, or select 'Export Bitmap' from the File menu.
  2. Select the 'Page' button to export everything inside the page's borders
  3. Enter the width of the icon you wish to output to. If you press the 'Return/Enter' key, Inkscape will fill the height and resolution/dpi boxes for you
  4. Enter the path filename of your Icon. Don't forget to use the Icon Naming Specification. Also refer to the KDE TechBase article here - Projects/Oxygen/namingSpec

Making the final SVG icon to commit/submit

Make a copy of the icon with Inkscape.

  1. Choose "File -> Save As" and select "Plain SVG". This will remove Inkscape specific information which is not necessary to render the image.
  2. After saving the file, choose "File -> Vacuum Defs", to remove unused definitions, and then save again.

Icons made with Adobe Illustrator.

  1. When making an icon with AI, be careful not to include Adobe extensions to SVG.
  2. All Adobe stuff should be removed from the final SVG. It will probably be necessary to use a text editor (such as KWrite) to do this.
  3. To check for a proper SVG file, open the icon in the Squiggle SVG viewer.

This page was last edited on 17 September 2011, at 19:52. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.