Big Project! Sorry in Advance! (but not really….)

Sorry about last week

This current project has been amazing! I really love the time I had to do it. The one downside has been that I wasn’t able to post anything last week! But this week will all but make up for it. That much I promise. It might be a little longer than normal as well. I got so absorbed into this fun project, that I wanted to give it all of my attention, so that it could be the best that it could be for the client. I think that the final product was well worth the effort and time put into it, and hope you enjoy seeing how it was created!



The Icons

Just like last time, I want to show you more of my design process, but this time, instead of designing a magazine article spread, I needed to make some icons. The project had some pretty clear cut parameters that I needed to follow. The project was to create 4-6 icons, using Adobe Illustrator, that all tied together. After doing some head scratching, I decided that I was going to do a set of icons for an artist’s online gallery. Each icon was going to be a different art medium, that if clicked on by the viewer, they would be directed to a section of the online gallery that featured that particular type of art. As you can probably see, on my parameters list, once I got that idea, different art media just kept coming to me. So much so, that I needed to go through my list and really think about what I could do by the deadline, and would meet the requirements.


Once I got through the initial planning, the next phase was to do my hand-drawn sketches. Since I was going to need a total of six maximum icons, I decided that I was going to do six different sketches for each icon. This phase was rather difficult. With icons, they need to be easily recognizable as the intended object, but also not be overly complicated or confusing. Most cases, using the quintessential object is typically the right direction to go. So, initially, that’s where my sketching started. When I first here about ceramics, an ancient Greek vase is the first thing to pop into my head. So, I drew it out. But as far exploration goes, it only scratches the surface. I wanted to go further with my designs to see how far I could actually stray from the quintessential design, before it became to obscure and an ineffective icon. Some of my sketches entered more of a realm of illustration, like sketch number 3 for watercolor. I had drawn a scene of the painter’s work space as a possible icon. Clearly, too complex, but by having done that sketch, I was able to go with my thoughts even further and come up with other ideas. There are never any bad ideas during sketching. Just let everything that comes to your mind make it onto the page. Once you do, that is when the magic happens and you discover the perfect idea or concept for a project.

The Digital Draft

I scanned my draft into my computer and brought them into Illustrator as a template layer. Once I had done that, I reviewed each category and selected what I thought would make an excellent initial digital draft of my set of icons. For ceramics, I went with a stein; graphic design, an Adobe program user interface; watercolor, a wet brush over a piece of paper; photography, a Polaroid; a comic book for comics; and a pen and pencil for my more miscellaneous category (sketching, doodle, etc.). I needed a few elements, however, to translate into each icon that would help tie them together as a whole. Deciding to mimic my sketches a little, I made a thick, bolded outside edge to each graphic. I then put each graphic image inside a rounded corner square, similar to how it might appear on that artist’s webpage. I didn’t really have a set color scheme that I wanted to keep for each one, but for the background colors, I wanted to keep them either one of the following: blue, green, or purple. The hues intentionally vary because I wanted to express how an artist is not limited to just one media, but is open to express themselves in any media, just as there are so many varying media used in the artist’s gallery.

The Product Testing

Once the digital draft was compiled, I went and showed my designs to peers to get some feedback. I wanted to know if what I had been doing was one- keeping to the prescribed parameters of the project, and two- quickly conveyed the art media it was meant to portray. All six meet the first point, but my ceramics icon, unfortunately, failed on the second. It was my personal favorite icon that I had made, but it was too obscure for those who aren’t to familiar with how a stein is made. I had strayed to far from the quintessential object for the topic. And that is perfectly okay! This is still a draft, so reworking a design is part of the whole process, and it is expected. So in proper fashion, I went back to my sketches and reviewed them to find a more suitable design to meet the challenge of passing the second point of getting feedback.

That is when I came went back to my first sketch and realized that this was actually really well designed, and that it was still in fact a variation of the quintessential, and worth a digital translation. Since the color of the graphic changed, the darker green was no longer a suitable background color- creating to much contrast of the red clay vase. I went into the color settings and softened the intensity of the hue and saturation, creating more of a complementary sea foam green to be the background color. Other minor touch ups were added to my other icons as well, mostly to do with spacing. I adjusted their placement within each square so that there was the right balance of negative space around each individual graphic. I also reworked the shape of the pencil tip and watercolor brush so that they looked more like the objects and not so much a mashing of shapes on top of each other.

The Product

The end result was that I had created six successful icons that met what the parameters had outlined. One of the parameters that I had failed to talk about earlier was that I needed to provide a large image of each icon, as well as a smaller, scaled down version. In today’s world where everyone accesses information through varying methods (such as a smart phone, computer, tablet, etc.), the size of the icons need to be able to adapt and change with the different types of screens. By providing these two sizes for the client, and designer, are able to assess whether not an icon’s design is functional. It needs to be able to be seen and recognizable at all possible sizes. So here they are! my six icons!


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