Please read my main page describing the basics of favorite icons. This page is made specifically as an example to show you how you can convert a BMP, JPG, GIF, or PNG file to a favorite icon (favicon.ico). I use IrfanView as a sample program because it is free (for non-commercial use) and is handy to have on your computer for your graphics needs.
This quick two page guide (page 1 below, page 2 here) will show you how to convert a graphic into ICO format on Windows using free software.
I describe on the Favorites Icon page that your goal is to convert your image down to 16x16 pixels (16 wide, 16 high) at 16 colors.
Step 1: Make your starting image. For best results, use a multiple of 16 for the design. 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. This will let it have a clean simple conversion down. Save the image to a format IrfanView can load.
A. Many of you may wish to try this with MS-Paint if you do not have a program like Photoshop. Open Paint, then, change the "IMAGE ATTRIBUTES" size to 16, 32, 64, or 128, whatever you're comfortable working with. But remember, the Favorite Icon will shrink to 16x16 to get onto your web site, so you will lose a lot of detail.
In this example, we set the attributes to 128 x 128 pixels.
Create your icon design with Paint, then Save it with format BMP (as favicon.bmp):
B. Open IrfanView. Select File -> Open and find your newly created image.
C. Resize/Resample to 16 pixels wide, 16 pixels high.