The Easiest Guide to Iconography

Svetlana Shapovalova, editor of Netology, translated Tidjane Tall’s iconography guide, explaining the simplest basic icons and explaining why an illustration is worth a thousand words.

How long does it take for a designer to create one custom icon on average? A few minutes? Ten? An hour, two or three? What if we show you how to make 10 cool icons in less than 10 minutes?

5e5281c6cf6b4a558007faf9eeb951c9

Iconography is a special form of communication. It complements the visual language of the brand, so the custom icon set is much more expressive and attractive than the standard one. Many designers don’t even bother studying iconography. The reason is most often because it requires another course in a very long learning process.

So I created a mega-simple guide that can teach you the basics of iconography in less than 10 minutes. And, yes, I’m serious.

Knowing how to create custom icons will open up a huge new world of images for you to use in your projects – it will set you apart from the crowd and give you a competitive edge over other designers.

cae3aa4d743c4bee88ca2ae92640cad8

Initially, I was inspired to create the guide by Morgan Allan Nutson’s GIF, which showed how to create a location service icon in a couple of seconds. The reception seemed to me not hackneyed, elegant and fast.

I realized how easy it is to create custom icons. In fact, an icon is just a certain geometric figure, the result of connecting or distorting basic shapes: rectangles, triangles, circles.

The main thing in logo or icon design is to keep things simple.

With this tutorial, you can create 10 different icons in 10 seconds using simple geometric shapes.

Important: I used Adobe Illustrator, but you will get the same result in any other editor: Sketch or Figma. We added and removed points on the shape with the Pen Tool, selected and moved with the Direct Selection Tool.

Eye (Eye Icon)

f9f3b61ba5a6cb8ec23f94176543bc5a

Place four circles on the same axis in the center of the sheet, from the largest to the smallest. Place a small circle in a slightly larger one and so over and over from smallest to largest. Then stretch it beyond the far left and right points from the center. Finally, slide the smallest (inner) circle towards the edge of the previous one, and you will have a highlight effect on the iris.

Tip: To avoid using white circles, use the Pathfinder panel and subtract two circles from the bottom circle.

Arrow Icon

1cf52f5bb0a2a7338997d9f4f0bb8a03

To get an arrow, just add additional dots around the edges of the original square.

Tip: Alternatively, just draw a thin line and give it an arrow shape.

Battery (Battery Icon)

8c8244721526c2255552c6cfc9271e60

Draw one outline square and two filled ones. Place one of the filled squares inside the empty one and play with the proportions. Leave the second outside, shaping it into the tip of the battery.

Tip: Try different values ​​for outline thickness and padding to achieve the desired visual harmony.

Bullet List Icon

0a33d4f641bf6f03900bc3063a0c2cb6

Start with a regular square; copy it and place the copy on the right; give it the shape of an elongated rectangle. Select everything together and make two copies, placing them one under the other at equal intervals.

Tip: replace the squares with circles and the icon will look softer.

Cloud (Cloud Icon)

966ce1287267f33f83e294dcb1c2b05a

Draw three circles of different sizes – two identical small and one large. Place the small circles on the same level, and the large ones in the center between and above them. To get the bottom of the cloud, drag out one of the smaller circles.

Tip: To make the cloud look more natural, try different circle diameters.

Forward Play Icon

6d908ccb050674cf15f531e176266b4e

Draw a long rectangle. Place a point in the center of the left edge, and then delete the bottom and top points. This is a triangle – copy it and place it on the right. The icon is ready.

Tip: to get it done even faster, draw a triangle right away, not a square.

Funnel Icon

5c92142cd86dc0833624c821285d81a0

Draw a long rectangle. Add points in the center of the left and right edges. Now stretch the top edge wide. Done.

Tip: Place two rectangles on top of each other and just stretch the edge of the top one.

Play / Pause Icon

b73ca54401954f0f026df581bdb0aa79

Draw three long, parallel rectangles. Transform the widest of them into a triangle.

Tip: as an option, immediately draw a triangle, followed by two parallel rectangles

Position Arrow Icon

f704e4d52b0f183a1818c03b3bb3c207

This is a modified icon for the location service from Morgan’s GIF. Just draw a square and then drag the bottom left corner towards the opposite corner.

Tip: If you are working in Illustrator, hold down the Shift key to get a strictly diagonal direction.

Position Pin Icon

d30b0da083ec77537f0d7d7daffba07a

Inside the larger circle, create a small one using the Pathfinder panel. Drop the bottom point to the desired distance and sharpen the resulting tip: switch to the Pen Tool, then click on the point while holding down the Shift key.

Tip: You don’t have to sharpen the corner completely – just round it up a bit by selecting a point and changing the corner radius value in the Transform panel.

Sound Icon

c37189f1dc9aff2babd212119ad4bea8

It is done in the same way as the funnel icon, only with a 90 degree rotation.

Tip: just copy the funnel and rotate it clockwise.

Wave (Wave Icon)

45dbc96efa8979b13825353b09d2e4be

Draw a straight line, then space dots along the entire length at equal intervals. Pull down the changing points and round all corners as much as possible until the line is smooth.

Tip: To make the line even softer, round off the ends.

A good icon is worth a thousand words

An illustration is often said to be worth a thousand words. This is especially true for icons. By replacing words and whole sentences, they optimize visual space, usability and aesthetic appeal.

The ability to create sets of simple and useful icons will always come in handy. In this article, we just showed how easy and quick to make icons from basic shapes.

10 rules of iconography:

  • Make icons symbolic and meaningful.
  • The recommendation you’ve probably heard hundreds of times already: keep it simple. Don’t sacrifice icon readability for the sake of appearance.
  • Work mindfully and thoughtfully. Think carefully before you start.
  • Make sure the icon looks correct in different sizes.
  • Maintain a consistent style.
  • In the vector, please!
  • Use different colors carefully and only when necessary.
  • Knowing the basics of geometry helps a lot.
  • Remember that at first glance it should be clear why this or that design element is needed – that is, remember about the so-called affordance.
  • The language of iconography must be universal.
  • In fact, the English alphabet is just a set of 26 icons, while the Russian alphabet is 33.

Improve your skills and you will see that soon 10 seconds to create one icon will seem a lot to you – you will learn to cope much faster.

Source: habrahabr.ru

Author: Clark Douglas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *