This study reports on the use of in situ data obtained in mid-latitude and tropical ice clouds from airborne sampling probes and balloon-borne replicators as the basis for the development of bulk scattering models for use in satellite remote sensing applications. Airborne sampling instrumentation includes the two-dimensional cloud (2D-C), two-dimensional precipitation (2D-P), high-volume precipitation spectrometer (HVPS), cloud particle imager (CPI), and NCAR video ice particle sampler (VIPS) probes. Herein the development of a comprehensive set of microphysical models based on in situ measurements of particle size distributions (PSDs) is discussed. Two parameters are developed and examined: ice water content (IWC) and median mass diameter Dm. Comparisons are provided between the IWC and Dm values derived from in situ measurements obtained during a series of field campaigns held in the mid-latitude and tropical regions and those calculated from a set of modeled ice particles used for light-scattering calculations. The ice particle types considered in this study include droxtals, hexagonal plates, solid columns, hollow columns, aggregates, and 3D bullet rosettes. It is shown that no single habit accurately replicates the derived IWC and Dm values, but a mixture of habits can significantly improve the comparison of these bulk microphysical properties. In addition, the relationship between Dm and the effective particle size Deff, defined as 1.5 times the ratio of ice particle volume to projected area for a given PSD, is investigated. Based on these results, a subset of microphysical models is chosen as the basis for the development of ice cloud bulk scattering models in Part II of this study.