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How to make icons - advice - tips and tricks!

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By ThaPHLASH, Senior Member on 3rd June 2011, 01:55 PM
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Word up Xda...
In this thread i'd like to share and find out about your advice's, tips and tricks to be a stellar icon designer. Whether its for android, your computer desktop or any other devices.

Beginners or advanced creators, whats your advice's? what's on your mind...???

Tips
  1. Persistence means something in the icon design field, be ready for the long haul if you wanna leave a trace.
  2. Create nice previews of your icons, first impression counts a lot.
  3. Quality is Very important, create with the highest resolution possible.
  4. Find the thematic you want to go for, and stick with it consistently throughout the icon set.
  5. Accessibility will help you, make a simple pack with your .png images in it, and also explore new avenues like creating a icon pack app for the market or even be part of a theme. It will be appreciated because users have different taste.
  6. Don't forget! Make sure a user can see what the icon means, its easy to get caught up in a design that very nice but unusable. Icons are suppose to be functional, so if you make the symbol too small or too distorted its useless...
  7. Maybe your a designer, not a developer... stop trying to do everything yourself and make associations with others. It will let you focus on you main task (making awesome icons) and the devs can do theirs (creating awesome apps). Believe me its the only way to have a complete product. Remember make associations, don't just hire someone to help... A partner is more likely to give his best than someone simply hired who wants his paycheck and then move to another project. Never underestimate the power of involvement.

Tricks
  1. Use Photoshop for the final render of your icons.
  2. In Photoshop, use Actions and Scripting to automate some process.
  3. In Illustrator, use Actions and Scripting to automate some process.
  4. Go beyond, right now im mostly using C4D a 3D software to help make my icons objects and have more possibilities.
  5. Learn Python scripting to automate some process in your 3D software.
  6. They are plugins like EyeCandy for Photoshop that can extend manipulation beyond the realms of generic Photoshop filters.
  7. The size of icons on older Android devices is 72px by 72px, on newer devices its 96px by 96px but create more than one size because you'll need a big version of it sooner or later, i recommend simply doing them at 200px by 200px to start with and ideally you would go 512px by 512px, yes really...
  8. Start with a vector (I make mine with Adobe Flash, or/and Adobe illustrator) then import that vector in Photoshop, that way you'll be ready if you need to make a bigger size later, vectors are really crisp and infinite resolution.
  9. Test your icons in a phone, sometimes it looks very different than on your computer screen, often its a brightness contrast issue.
  10. Test the icons on a black and also a white background, users have various wallpapers.

Advice's
  1. There a preconception in this field that icons should be free, no matter how much work goes into them. If you intend to generate funds from them, be aware that its 1 paid icon packs per 500 free ones out-there... YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK HARD.
  2. Be original, its not easy to come up with something new, yet its not impossible. Do your research before you jump in and study the style you intend to use like its your high schools final exam. its worth the effort.
  3. UPDATES, be ready for them...
  4. Trends are fun to mimic, but in the end it won't save you. Inovate!
  5. Listen to user requests, its your ultimate guide to what you need in the icon pack, one requested icon is worth more than 10 nobody cares about.
  6. It may be tedious, but redraw each icons yourself so that you have the best quality to start with, simply copy/pasting images is not recommended, and very hard to manipulate.
  7. Piracy is rampant in icon design, but the way i think about it is that piracy is simply a competing business. They happen to sell at the price of $0, so you can't beat them on price, but you CAN beat them on 1. convenience and 2. content (piracy takes awhile to get up to date unless you have a hugely popular pack which gets pirated within HOURS of release). As long as these two points outweigh the price difference, you'll be ok.
  8. DON'T give up! Keep trying as every endeavor faces roadblock at one point.
  9. Rule of thumb for posting online: Treat people as if they were standing in front of you. Be consciously polite. Assume people's intentions are good. Remind yourself that your lucky to be alive, and grateful to be in the presence of others. Though I'm sure I've wavered from this philosophy on occasion, I'm not proud of those moments, and try to get better.

Templates
This is a Photoshop template i put together for you to study... if your new to photoshop it may help you with layer styles etc...



good advice tips tricks will be added in this list... its work in progress.
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3rd June 2011, 01:56 PM |#2  
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Cool also
if you have tutorials it be nice... ill look for some too
3rd June 2011, 02:01 PM |#3  
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Nice, I shall be keeping an eye on this thread. Currently using Illustrator for bits and pieces, mainly t-shirt vectors at the moment, but I've done a couple of logos too. Would really like to get my head round Photoshop, but it's quite daunting. Ultimate goal would be to have a completely unique personal Icon set that when happy I could release into the wild.
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3rd June 2011, 02:04 PM |#4  
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Cool nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doktaphex

Nice, I shall be keeping an eye on this thread. Currently using Illustrator for bits and pieces, mainly t-shirt vectors at the moment, but I've done a couple of logos too. Would really like to get my head round Photoshop, but it's quite daunting. Ultimate goal would be to have a completely unique personal Icon set that when happy I could release into the wild.

Good that you know illustrator! cause its all about vector! you import it in photoshop to achieve a clean look... ill have to add this to the advice's.. THANKS
3rd June 2011, 02:17 PM |#5  
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Its the photoshop part that I struggle with, although to be honest I haven't actually tried to use it that much, I've been spending all my time learning Illustrator and trying to achieve something that I find acceptable in that. Guess its time to move on to the next step.
3rd June 2011, 11:58 PM |#6  
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I thought that I would show you lovely folks the icons that I designed for my website. I made a couple of others after them, such as the camera and www icons. The plan at the time was to build a whole set based on these, but I have still not got round to it.

4th June 2011, 02:00 AM |#7  
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Cool photoshop
I have added a photoshop template for you to check out...
5th June 2011, 01:42 AM |#8  
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This is an awsome start for someone to begin messing about with an original/variation of an icon set.

thanks.
and im even going to throw you a "thanks" from people who wont even say "good job" or "thanks". damn haters!
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5th June 2011, 01:51 AM |#9  
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How do you add a template to Photoshop? I've had this trouble many times and dragging a template onto Photoshop didn't allow me to do much with it. I wanted to use the template but change it out with something else.
5th June 2011, 02:43 AM |#10  
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Cool well
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSwaggeR

How do you add a template to Photoshop? I've had this trouble many times and dragging a template onto Photoshop didn't allow me to do much with it. I wanted to use the template but change it out with something else.

This is only a photoshop file... just click it and it will open with photoshop.
Take note that the version of photoshop you have matters.

For example, this is a photoshop cs5 file... if you open in up with, lets say photoshop 7, it may open but will be messed up since layer styles (which is an efx if i may say so) wasn't introduced till later version.

What version are you using?
5th June 2011, 02:49 AM |#11  
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I'm using Photoshop CS5 Extended.

I've been downloading a bunch of extension tools like Eyecandy 6 for it. Gotta be able to have several different styles and stuff to create unique icons with it. Eyecandy 6 is great but just doesn't seem to have a whole lot in it. So I went ahead and got quite a few more extra extensions for it.

My other question is, where can I find more icons to replace/switch out? I was at your website and I didn't see stuff like Terminal Emulator and other stuff. I could adb pull every single app off my phone, even from data and system/data, and find the icons from all of them in their respective folders but that would take forever.

I've basically been looking around to see if anyone had uploaded a huge set of plain, original icons that I could get and use them to replace or switch out.
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