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A Walkthrough on Creating Icons with Photoshop

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Creating Icons with Photoshop

Many think about making their own icons for their design projects. In fact it is actually possible to make your own icons, according to your taste. What you will need is Adobe Photoshop, some Photoshop tutorials to get an idea, and of course your creativity. The following article is not a tutorial, but a walkthrough on the general steps for using Photoshop to make icons.

Think about an icon shape

Icon Shape

Image Courtesy: SoftFacade

Take your sketchpad and draw whatever shapes that appear in your mind on the paper. This is just a rough sketch so you need not worry about how perfect it is. The purpose is to record quickly on the paper, whatever appears in your mind. The next thing to do is scan what you have sketched and choose your favorite image editor. The tools you can use for you icon design can be adobe illustrator, Photoshop and other vector based drawing software.

Implement the shape

The first step will be to draw the basic shape of the icon; you can also think about tracing the image that you would like to use as a plan for your icon shape. You will be building the icons using layers styles and vector shapes. So you need not construct a big source file and scale down separately, as they already have the property of scaling up easily. You can start by using the pen tool to draw the base layer.

To be in a better position to execute the rough sketch that you have already drawn; you can include your planned sketch on a layer on top in overlay mode. Once the base layer is ready, you can use the pattern overlay tool to adjust the texture in some parts of your icon. You can pack-in whatever outlines you want according to the function of the icon using the layer styles like the inner glows and the gradients.

Creating the Highlight layers and Shadows

Once you have colored and added the effects to the base layers, the next thing to do is to construct the layers that you want to emphasize i.e., the highlight layers for the icons. The job of the highlight layers is to give the icon its complete outline or form. To make the edges soft you should avoid using high contrast colors for the color of the icon surface. You can also add some shadow effects to give the icon a realistic depth and form.

The icon should look equally good in different sizes

Icon Size

Image Courtesy: Icons-Land

You need to think about the exact size of the icon for most of its usage. For the most part, your icon will be of a small size, so you may need to adjust the sharpness and scaling in such a way to make it look okay in that size. You can make use of the pen tool to allow easy vector scalability during the design, although you may have to adjust the masks and layer effects a little bit following extreme scaling. Once you are done with the scaling aspect, you can finish the icon using icon packing resources that you can find in IconBuilder.

The icons you make using Photoshop, should be able to depict the functionality of the icon in a universal manner across all cultural boundaries. The art of designing a good icon is also about how well you make use of the blending feature of Photoshop to increase the overall appeal of the icon. See that your icons are designed with the proper use of gradient and angle and also ensure that the edges are well rounded. You can also use drop shadows to add contrast and shape, along with proper outlines to improve the impact of your icon.

While you design your icon using Photoshop with the steps given above, you will also have to face the most common temptation for an illustrator, and that is the urge to make the icons appear flashy. There is no use of a showy icon that doesn't serve the true purpose. It is always better to go for simple icons, as they appear more professional, less irritating, and easier to understand for the user.

This guest article was provided to you by IconPlant


Tags:  guest article walkthrough icons tips photoshop

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