Too bad I've to choose a type for the article. It's either 'tutorial' or 'news'. Actually it is more like promo for my tool with a bit of tutorial.
After implementing a sophisticated inventory system in Unity I found it hard to find icons. I purchased several 3D models for weapons and other stuff for their 3D representation in the game world and was looking for icons to represent them in the inventory.
Most stuff I found was pretty nice, but none of it was what I needed. My idea is to have pretty common weapons (swords/axes/maces/bows...) and a few magic ones. All icons I found came with lots of effects or predefined properties, e.g water or fire effect. Also most icons on Asset Store are pretty colorful, very WoW like comic style.
Ok, what to do?
The solution was to snapshot the 3D models in Unity. So I created a scene with some dark background and started to shift 3D models around, then used a snipping tool to create a png. This worked somehow, but had some problems. One of it was transparent background, another was that I found it plain dull and boring to shift stuff around into the always same position. As a coder when you notice you do the same thing twice you instantly think about how to automate it.
So I wrote a tool to automate the process. It worked pretty well, I was able to produce nice icons in no time. But when I started using it for my game I noticed I could automate even more. A few words about my item system design.
I considered it best to split every Item into two prefabs, one for the UI, holding all you need to drag&drop it around in a canvas and to hold all data needed for the Item, e.g. restrictions (which character class can use it, etc). The other is a 3D model with some physics on it for world representation. If you pick up the world object, it is deleted and the UI prefab is added to an inventory. If you drop the UI Item it is deleted and a world object is created.
The point here is that each UI Item must know which prefab to create in the world and vice versa. After connecting several by hand I noticed I could also automate this. This is what Magic Icon Creator can do for you besides creating icons. It can give physics to a mesh based prefab automatically and connect the UI prefab and the mesh prefab.
If you have any need for such a tool, give it a try: Assetstore.unity3d.com
Video (Icon Creation):
Video (Item Creation):
Thanks for reading, hope you find it useful!