Create icons: Small but nasty

Are icons so simple to create, what they are based on and what they are? Today we will talk about the symbols of the XXI century!

Everyone and everyone knows icons, and even a child draws his first undertakings in the design business in the margins. We replace the words in the notes with pictures, when we do not keep up with the reader, we instantly read the information on the icons of supermarkets and understand without unnecessary words that it is impossible with a dog. Road signs, even company logos can be attributed to icons. Now our whole world consists of only solid icons, because people have stopped reading, and marketers have noticed this.


In fact, people started drawing icons much earlier. In fact, the drawings are a “slicked” and extended icon. The ancient man never set out to paint a masterpiece for posterity “I am a beautiful and successful Neanderthal – riding a beloved rhinoceros in the rays of sunset.” He drew icons. “There are no fish here.” “Hunting a mammoth is easier than a crowd and with stones.” “The sorcerer of a neighboring tribe is a brazen and greedy dude.” And so on.

When a person “grew up”, he began to paint with icons. In China, for example, someone clever got tired of drawing a person and began to depict him like this: 人. This is how 日on drew a slightly square sun, and so 月 – the moon, it is no coincidence that there is a bend like a waning month. And then, as they say, it happened: with the icon of the sun, the Chinese began to denote the concepts: day, light, and if they were depicted by two 日日, then it became clear to anyone that the author says “every day”. The Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians followed the same path, we will not overload the article with examples.

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Then there were a lot of things, like heraldry. A certain noble don wanted himself and his family to be respected, praised, and feared by all. He himself, as well as his target audience, were illiterate Selyuks, so chroniclers and biographers sat without orders. But graphic designers were in trend, they drew “A flying horse of a gentle turquoise color against the background of a dried oak tree with three branches, one of which grew upwards”… However, soon this clumsy approach caused a crisis of the genre since only specially trained people could read such overloaded icons.

The story went on, there were more literate people, and there were fewer icons, then the meaning began to be transmitted by the text. And now came the XX, and then the XXI century! Universal literacy, there was a huge amount of information for transmission and urgent transmission. But two big troubles came: laziness and lack of time to read, and so the icons got a second wind. They, like a graphic symbol, are needed not for admiration, but for conveying meaning.

The icon should be informative – once, memorable – two, pleasant and stylish – three. By and large, the icon designer needs only three educations: linguistic (in order to be able to convey meaning), psychological (in order to be able to encourage the user to action), and artistic (but this is not necessary).

Are they that easy to create?

At first glance, it may seem that if the images are small, then it will not be difficult to create them. That’s what customers think. And they put an extremely small budget. Yes, maybe they are not detailed, maybe they are symbolic, but do not underestimate them. The mug can be drawn in a thousand ways, everything will depend on the imagination of the designer:

  • you can play a little with the style of the traditional form (as in example 1),
  • you can fill in the icon (example 2, of course, if circumstances allow),
  • you can experiment with forms and perspective (example 3),
  • can be colored and volumeged (example 4).
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Where to start?

The creation of icons usually begins after the approval of the TK. The main thing is to understand:

1. What is the meaning of this icon.

2. In what style it should be made.

Then you need to have some experience in using the required style or at least be able to analyze references and know anyone program, for example, Adobe Illustrator.

The disgust in the creation is that even if you have approved the style of the first icon, this does not mean that the rest will appeal to the person on the other side of the monitor. And you may have to make not ten icons, but twelve, because. the shampoo doesn’t mean bathroom, and credit card doesn’t mean money, let’s think again. Many people love traditional methods, and creativity does not “go” to them. However, you need to understand that the more original the idea, the more faithfully a person will remember it. Just do not overdo it, soap is not quite a shower cabin.

The designer should be able to draw an icon of hunger, come up with how it will look “you can’t go here”, and sometimes you need to depict security. And they should not be like well-known icons.

If the icons are to be made detailed, then it is better to start with a sketch. Sometimes customers ask for a few ideas so that you can choose, then, of course, it is highly recommended to start with a sketch.

It’s also worth noting that creating icons is a time-consuming process. Sometimes the customer immediately sets the colors and sizes, and then half of the work he does not like and has to, again, make new ones, in different sizes and colors. This rarely happens, of course, if you discuss the details in advance.

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Icons for the application

This type of image – the main icon of the application – rather refers to logos. Personally, I don’t really like to make logos, it’s already graphic design, there are a lot of its own nuances. If the logo is meant only for the web, then you can still try.

Icons for applications must be created according to the installed guides, otherwise why? There are also icons for Tab Bar, navigation, toolbar, search, status, etc. They also have their own sizes.

For Fun

Actually creating icons is a lot of fun. Behind the search for references, the desired style, form, and concept looms imperceptibly. When these little tomboys are ready, they seem to complement each other, standing next to each other. One icon looks somewhat ridiculous against the background of the text and other completely unrelated details of the page. When several stylized icons stand nearby, the client has the “right mood”, the corresponding emotion, and direction of thought. We need icons, because we are such lazy and always in a hurry somewhere, not reading, but scanning the information on the page.

Despite the mass of free template icons on the Internet, we still need people who know how to create something new specifically for the needs of the company. After some time on the Internet, you can find a template for anything, although quite time-consuming. Already now there are orders like “pick up icons”. Technologies do not stand still, after some time there will definitely be a program for creating icons from ready-made templates.

Or maybe it has already appeared. I don’t know, I just keep drawing, that’s all.


Written by Shubham

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