Icon Grid: When And How To Use It? + BONUS GRIDS

Icon Grid: When And How To Use It? + BONUS GRIDS

Grids, oh, mighty grids! I think this is the most requested article of all times. And yet, in my opinion, grids are overrated. Yep, I said this. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a great grid is the essential part of a wonderful icon set, but it’s definitely not a necessity. I’m getting a lot of emails from people that haven’t started their first icon set just because they don’t know how to set up a grid. Oh, come on! Let me tell you a secret: you don’t really need a grid for your first icon set. It’s a great practice to create some icons on the grid, but before even thinking about creating your own grid you should make thousands of icons to understand what to take into consideration while making the grid. So what is icon grid exactly? Icon grid is most commonly created using the guidelines placed precisely on the artboard. But it is not just about the guidelines, of course. Think of an icon grid as a set of rules made to keep consistency throughout the icon set. Well laid out structure where your icon set is going to be constructed. People often confuse construction guidelines with icon grids. I’m talking about the guidelines other designers show in their works to demonstrate the process or thoughts behind a certain icon. I think people are obsessed about knowing what is going on behind the scenes of other people’s works. That is why when you put up a work with visible guidelines, it will most likely get more attention than the exact same work but without the guidelines....
How Simple Your Icons Should Be?

How Simple Your Icons Should Be?

Recently, I came across a very fascinating urban legend about Ernest Hemingway. While spending time in a bar, he bet his friends 10 bucks that he could write a six-word poem that would make readers cry. Hemingway came up with this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” No need to say he won the bet. There is another great story written by Frederic Brown in 1948: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” This genre is called Flash Fiction. It really strikes me how much meaning can be put into just a couple of words. It is breathtaking that the whole story with climax and epilogue fits into a sentence or two. Everything is cut to essentials and thought through — there is no room for anything excessive. This looks a lot like creating icons. Little pictograms that hold an enormous message. This is one of the main differences between an illustration and an icon. Illustrations are like 500 word poems, while icons remind the aforenamed 6 word flash fiction. Emphasising what truly matters and removing everything unnecessary to pass along the message may be a difficult task. Some icons should look super simple, and simple isn’t easy. So, how do you know what’s the right amount of details you can use for one icon? It was the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery who once said, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. The smaller the icon is, the fewer details it needs. Icons that are made...
New Year Resolutions – How To Achieve More in 2016

New Year Resolutions – How To Achieve More in 2016

Hey! Hope you’re doing well! This is my first article this year, and it will be a little different. January is usually the time when you reflect on the past twelve months and look into the future. So this time we’ll be talking about setting up goals and achieveing them in the upcoming year. You may remember from my Dribbble success story that I’m one of those people who make New Year resolutions. People often laugh and don’t take us seriously. Frankly, they have a point — every January gyms all over the globe are packed, and then dead empty on February. It seems that people make New Year resolutions just to break them. People in general are lazy, and if you want to achieve something, you need to fight your laziness every single day. I want to believe that I’m a person who can control his life, make conscious decisions and follow through on them. I’m not saying that I complete all my resolutions, but defining them definitely helps me to turn my career and life to the wanted direction. You could never reach your destination if you don’t know where you are going, right? So this year instead of being lazy and making fake promises to yourself, let’s build a system that will help you reach your goals! Here are a few simple rules that keep me motivated in pursuing my goals:   Write your resolutions down! One of the most important things is to write down your resolutions (preferably by hand) and put this list where you can see it every single day. If you keep...
Thanks! You’re Awesome!

Thanks! You’re Awesome!

Hey! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are doing well getting out the post-holiday food coma. I assume that the last pre-Christmas week was very busy for everybody, so I didn’t want to bug you with another icon tutorial. But believe me, I have some great stuff for you in the new year! Already looking forward to sharing it with you all! This will be next year, and for now I’m writing this short article to say how thankful I am that you find time to read my articles. Thank You! About a half a year ago I started Icon Utopia just for fun. There wasn’t enough of useful information about icon design on the internet, so I thought I could try and write a couple of articles. I struggled to launch the blog page, wrote a few pieces and put them up online. What happened next blew my mind! I received a ton of positive feedback, my inbox was filled with the whole bunch of emails where people expressed that I helped them in one way or another. And I can’t describe how amazing this is to go through all these positive emails! From that moment I started writing not just for myself or for fun, but for you too! And it’s been an amazing journey so far. Nevertheless, I believe this is just the beginning, and a lot of great things awaits in the nearest future. So I just want you to know that I’m endlessly grateful for your attention, wonderful comments and feedback. This is what keeps me going and writing these weekly articles! Just...
Your First Icon idea Is Not That Good

Your First Icon idea Is Not That Good

Your first icon idea sucks. Okay, it may not be that bad… Frankly, I just needed to really grab your attention. However, the truth is that most of the first ideas you have are indeed not your best ones. Sadly, we tend to completely fall for our first thoughts way too often instead of looking for a better solution. I know how exciting first ideas look. Also, people may say that they are the best ones. From my experience, there are countless ways to improve your icon by getting away from your initial thought. What you want to do is explore different alternatives in the beginning. Don’t stick to the very first idea of yours trying to perfect it over and over. Devote this time to going in various directions instead of wasting all of your creative energy on one and only approach. By no means I’m saying that the idea is bad simply because it came first! What I’m implying here is that you shouldn’t let it blind you from looking for something else. Just because icons are supposed to be self-explanatory and clearly understood from the first glance, doesn’t mean that your first association is the best one. This logic has a point, but the association is not the same as the execution, right? Even if your first metaphor is perfect, your first actual version of icon might not be. There are so many different ways of fitting the same metaphor into a tiny icon. Some are better than others, and it’s your responsibility as a professional to find the most suitable one! So how do you...
Use Basic Shapes to Create Awesome Icons

Use Basic Shapes to Create Awesome Icons

At times it seems that icons are really complex and hard to create. Guess what — it is easier than you think! When it comes to me, my every other icon is actually made using basic shapes. I rarely use the pen tool, circle and square are my main icon components. Complex icons can be created with simple shapes. You just need to look at them from a different angle. What you should be paying attention to are the main creating blocks of each icon. Icons are not redrawn pictures, they carry a specific message, so your job is help transfer this message and make the meaning of the icon bright and clear. You can’t just shrink an image and call it a day. As icons are to transmit a complex idea via a small pictogram, they should be “stripped down” to their essentials. This why working with basic shapes is a great idea. It doesn’t let the icon look more complex than it should. Also, it’s way easier to create sharp looking icons using basic shapes. The pen tool is not really suitable for making pixel-perfect curved lines. They require lots of adjustments to ensure that all the points are on the pixel grid sharp as a knife. When creating icons using the basic shapes though, you simply place these already created shapes on the pixel grid and look if everything is pixel-perfect. Look at these amazing animations by Paulius Kairevičius — they are one of the best examples illustrating icons created with basic shapes: I was completely blown away by how awesome these little presentations are. They...

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