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What is an Icon Design?
Icon design is the method of designing graphic symbols to represent some real or abstract entities, motives, or actions. In other words, icon design gives a pictorial representation for objects, which is important for visual identity and aesthetic reasons.
An icon design can be very simple with a normal drawing or very complex with several graphic designs with 3-D images, radial colors, forecasted shadows and shades, etc. In essence, an icon design can be categorized as; pictogram and final design.
More Information on Icon Design
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It was way back in 1973, when users used commands and there was no such thing as graphics or any other easy-use technology. It was Xerox Alto, which was the first graphical user interface or GUI computing system. Later Apple Lisa was developed ruing 1978 and this was influenced by the Xerox computers. Today the world of icon design has evolved so much to the hyper-rendered and isometric representations of various office items.
As we discussed above, icon design procedure involves in two main processes; defining pictogram and making the illustration or final design. There are three essential approaches to define a pictogram. The primary icon design practice is to use the conventional drawings or images failing which, a designer can also use literal image, which could include images shared by the basic concepts or in other words, metaphorical images. Once the pictogram has been defined, it has to be checked for conflicting usage.
Icon design for a tool bar and other usages might require different definition of pictogram. Similarly, for a website icon design is normally a mascot or logotype design.
Various sizes of icon designs are used for computer applications and this involves creating the sample or masterpiece of artwork in the largest size and developing smaller sizes from the original one. It recommended that you follow the pattern of the icon design set and use same color palettes, renderings, and perspectives for all the icons.
Creation of Icon Design
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The process of creation of icon design is very time-consuming as well as expensive. There are various tools available on the Internet to create these with ease. However, with these tools, a custom created icon design could have the problem of matching with the other icons used in the system.
The creation of icon design has evolved since its beginning and now features various effects such as sharpening, glossy, softening, edging, drop shadows, and much more. There are icon editors that redoes the original image to the depth of color and resolution that is needed for an icon. The editors also feature extraction of icons from exe files, saving icon images, or creating icon libraries.
Commercial icons – There are hundreds of readily available icon design sets that can be freely downloaded or bought online. There are several forums and theme-related websites that offer them in a package. However, these have a disadvantage of not matching your system icons.
What is the Need for Icon Design?
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Icon design adds a visual element to your web pages amidst the range of contents being discussed to capture the attention of a visitor. This also gives a break up along with an accent to the text and helps in retaining the attention of the reader for a longer period.
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Icon design types that are used in the table of contents, page header, product lists, and in bullet points, brings charm to the context along with highlighting the essential points.
Icon design also plays a huge role in promoting a website by giving it a professional look to attract customers. However, these icons must have relevance to the products, services, or some essential aspect of your website content.
Basic Icon Design Styles
There are two different Icon design styles and they are; abstract icons and concrete icons.
Concrete Icon Design Style: Concrete icons are close representations or pictures of the operations they represent.
Both concrete and abstract icon design styles can be designed for specific set of operations. However, it is necessary to identify the apt style of icon according to the usage or application.
Computer Icon Designs
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A computer icon design is a pictogram that is displayed on the computer screen to navigate the system. These icons are also used on a mobile device. In other words, these icons are hyperlink that provide quick access to the required data or program.
There are standard icon design sets, found usually on mobiles and computers in different professions representing different functionalities of the profession. Whereas, another set of icon designs were developed to denote various physical objects that are common to an office environment such as; folders, files, trashcans, etc. A third icon design set is the brand icon, which represents commercial programs and these serve as the functional keys to the data of the concerned software companies.
Modern Icon Design Varieties
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There are hundreds of types and applications of icon designs. We are here to discuss some of them.
Application Icon Design: Application icons are one of the most sought after and popular in the current trend. There are hundreds of application icons for Mac OS, Windows, Android, Blackberry, etc. A user become familiar with any program by the use of icons and the icon design hence is essential for an easy use with a professional design. This in fact forms the first impression of any application or program.
Website Icon Design: Other than general applications, icon design plays a huge role in website headers, as these headers reflect the professional appeal along with the service content. This helps in increasing the traffic to a website by reducing bounce rate.
Menu and Toolbar Icon Design: Menu and toolbar icons are the primary mode of interaction between the user and the application. Hence, the icon design becomes important to provide toolbars and menu that are easily identified and thereby provide customers with best experience. These have to be modern as well as attractive.
Brand Icons: A brand icon design represents a particular software company programs and the set of icons are installed on a computer with the concerned software and entire functionalities. This icon represents the company and products and hence a brand icon is designed with utmost care and professionalism.
A good icon design brings out the clarity of thoughts, graphic ability, artistic skill, and every other innate principle of design. It ultimately gives a visibility along with aesthetics.
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Written by: Andrew Kelly