This is the second part of our Essential Guide to SVG Icons. In Part 1 we discussed the basics of SVG icons as well as some quick and easy methods for scaling and recoloring icons. This time we’ll open up the icon in an editor and make it sharp and perfect! Sounds scary? Don’t worry, we’re here for you!

Basic Editing

Sometimes you may need to edit more than the size and color of an icon.  Even if you’ve never done it, moving and adjusting some parts of an icon is easy! Let’s take an example where you’re using an icon which is not pixel precise for the resolution you need.
We have Android L icons designed for a 24×24 grid, the same way Google does it. However, some of the icons are missing in the Android icon pack, so you have to take them from the Windows icon pack (for example, logos of Microsoft products which don’t have an Android version). If you use the icon as is, it will look blurred:
scaled-icon
So you may need to take a Windows icon and adjust some points so they fit into the 24×24 grid perfectly.
The original image on the left looks blurred, while the edited image on the right is sharp.

The original image on the left looks blurred, while the edited image on the right is sharp.

What did we do here? Here is the new image over the original one:

For such corrections, we recommend using either Adobe Illustrator or Sketch.

Basic Editing of Icons in Adobe Illustrator

In this section we’ll scale a 26×26 icon to 24×24 and adjust it to make it sharp. We’ll need Adobe Illustrator and an icon.  If you’d like to follow along, grab one of our free SVG icons from the free icon pack.
After opening the image with Illustrator, you’ll see this:
If you turn on Pixel Preview by pressing Cmd+Alt+Y (Ctrl+Alt+Y on Windows), you’ll see that the horizontal and vertical lines are sharp:
sharp
Let’s check the size of the image. Select all (Cmd+A or Ctrl+A) and click Transform in the toolbar:
As you can see, it’s 26×26 px. Now let’s resize it. Let’s set it to 24×24 and press Enter.
Sometimes that works just fine, but not for this icon. The pixel preview looks pretty bad now, with blurred lines on the page:
Let’s undo and try another way. Instead of resizing, let’s choose the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut: a)
selection-tool
Select some of the points and move them using the up and down arrow keys. Hint: you can select not only individual points, but lines between those points as well.
moving
After moving three lines, we’ll get the right page, like this:
A1B35CA2-12A0-4227-847A-BA31351A5311
The folder with letter W is different. Let’s scale it a little to make it more narrow. For that, choose the Selection Tool just next to our Direct Selection Tool (shortcut: v), and scale it horizontally:
Now all we have to do is to move the upper and lower sides of the folder to make it shorter.

At this point we should be proud of the result: we’ve shaved 1 px off each side of the icon:

F867E4E8-C88B-4161-BAED-55F06993A35B

The shaved off pixel is highlighted in green

Congratulations, you did it! Please let us know if this guide worked for you. Leave comments!

Further Reading

Essential Guide to SVG Icons-When to Use and How to Edit – basics of SVG icons and fast methods of editing
Combining Icons for Fun and For Blood – coming soon

Questions? Suggestions?

Sometimes you follow the tutorial and some of the steps go wrong and you can’t continue. Even after 10 years working on icons, we run into problems here and there.
  • Some complicated icons
  • Wrong Illustrator preferences
  • Software bugs
If that happens, we’re ready to help in the comments. Heck, we might even make a video for you. Leave comments!