43 comments

  • A B, 4 years ago

    Illustrations* not icons

    13 points
    • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

      Illustrative icons are in fact still icons. There's something quite ironic in the idea that "illustration" is today a derogatory term.

      15 points
      • Elena SchererElena Scherer, 4 years ago

        Who said it was derogatory? Just because there is a difference between the two terms does not mean that one must be worth less than the other.

        16 points
      • Derrick SchippertDerrick Schippert, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

        Agreed - I tend to err on the illustrative side as well. They’re great, but I would never use them in my work ... for several reasons.

        Either way, icons are generally ambiguous and don’t add much value in the way of usability (unless 'universal'), especially when they’re not paired with text. via NN Group: Icon Usability http://www.nngroup.com/articles/icon-usability/

        I also disagree that “illustration" is a derogatory term.

        5 points
      • A B, 4 years ago

        It's only derogatory if you think so. I was taught to think of icons like letterforms. They need to be simple, scale to many different sizes, and work in B&W. They should be clear and readable with little room for interpretation.

        11 points
        • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

          You're thinking of logos

          4 points
          • A B, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

            A little bit, but not so much. Logos can have a lot more room for interpretation and symbolism. Icons are supposed to be immediately readable and intuitive.

            If it means anything, I have a BFA in Graphic Design with a focus in print design.

            5 points
            • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

              I have a BFA in Graphic Design with a focus in print design.

              That's awesome, but not exactly relevant.

              They need to...work in B&W

              Icons are rarely seen in B/W, that's logos you're thinking of. Unless you're talking about color blindness, but then that pretty much applies to all graphic design, and not is not a defining characteristic of icons in particular.

              Logos can have a lot more room for interpretation and symbolism. Icons are supposed to be immediately readable and intuitive.

              Totally context-dependent, really.

              8 points
            • jj moijj moi, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

              Icons (pictograms, ideograms, logograms) are symbols that convey meaning through pictorial resemblance to an object or idea. Heavy illustration styling on top of it doesn't have anything to do with its function as an icon. The things you described as supposed to be immediately recognizable, able to scale, and work in B&W, are subsets of icons -> traffic signs, user interface/GUI icons, airport wayfinding symbols, Olympic pictograms, etc.

              If it means anything, I teach graphic design and art history.

              3 points
              • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

                Pictograms, ideograms and logograms are not subsets of icons. They are all in fact symbols–each with a particular meaning.

                1 point
                • jj moijj moi, 4 years ago

                  I said traffic signs, GUI icons, wayfinding symbols are subset, did I not?

                  4 points
                  • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

                    Icons (pictograms, ideograms, logograms) are symbols

                    This is somewhat ambiguous phrasing.

                    2 points
              • A B, 4 years ago

                The things you described as supposed to be immediately recognizable, able to scale, and work in B&W, are subsets of icons -> traffic signs, user interface/GUI icons, airport wayfinding symbols, Olympic pictograms, etc.

                Yes, this is exactly what I was describing. Now how would you define illustration (drawing, sketch, painting, print, etc.)?

                Do Eli's examples sway more towards illustration or icon?

                0 points
          • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, 4 years ago

            Although application icons (which is what I think you're talking about, specifically) are often the logomark too, taking advantage of the higher fidelity offered.

            I think we need some kind of chart to keep track of all this. LET'S MAKE A CHART GUYS.

            0 points
        • pjotr .pjotr ., 4 years ago

          You're talking about glyphs and symbols.

          1 point
        • Josh ApostolJosh Apostol, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

          Well-designed letterforms are not necessarily simple and are often intentionally designed to work at specific ranges of sizes (the distinction between display and text faces illustrates this point, as well as the fact that metal type was optically adjusted at various point sizes).

          Those designing letterforms – and the same could be said of those designing icons – understand that typefaces (or icons) are designed for a purpose and a context, and are not universal, like you've described here. The illustrative icons we're discussing are akin to display type in that they are designed to be used at medium-to-large sizes, and have the opportunity to eschew simplicity and strict legibility for character and flare. Other kinds of icons – like those you consider to truly be icons – are akin to text typefaces, and are designed for a purpose and context that is distinct from these illustrative icons. They maintain legibility at very small sizes, work well in one-colour on various coloured backgrounds throughout a website or app interface, and their purpose is primarily communicative – to get a concept across quickly and without cognitive friction.

          0 points
    • Kurt MadsenKurt Madsen, 4 years ago

      There are several different types of icons, depending on how you slice things:

      • UI icons tend to be more symbolic and simple, much like logos. They usually serve a functional role, rather than one of expressing identity (see The Noun Project.
      • Application icons tend to be illustrative and expressive in their depth and detail (at least until recent flat trends pushed the latter to be more like the former). These help to convey the visual identity and branding of the product they represent (see the Icon Factory's work).

      The videos in Eli's post are very much in the second camp.

      Note: For another way to classify icons http://www.nngroup.com/articles/classifying-icons/

      2 points
      • Jacob TaylorJacob Taylor, 4 years ago

        These help to convey the visual identity and branding of the product they represent

        But are you implying that in order to convey these things, an icon must be illustrative?

        1 point
  • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    Been too long since I've seen any of these; we need to make more. I'm unfortunately awful at documenting my own process shots.

    9 points
  • Pedja RusicPedja Rusic, 4 years ago

    Wow, the comments are so f*up here, I did not think people would so easily forget the golden age of basically aqua styled icons, that folks if you actually remember started back in the 2000s, in MacOS and on aqua-soft (it's an old forum and there were similar sites, and other forums for customization and overall design of icons and skins) you would have pioneers in the style that went to work at apple, that imagined new shapes and ways that we can tell a tale and incorporate it into an icon, there is so much history here it's kinda insane to just throw it away cuz it's not trendy, call 'em what you want but that was the thing you would look at most of the time on your devices and websites. You can't deny that and just call them "illustrations", don't be a trendy cunt :)

    4 points
    • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, 4 years ago

      Pedja bb I've missed you. Think I'll be handing out a "don't be a trendy cunt" at the next atx Dribbble meetup

      1 point
  • Dan GDan G, 4 years ago

    The art of icon design is steadily being lost with each passing year.

    interesting

    3 points
    • J LiJ Li, 4 years ago

      I sort of agree with this statement with icons getting more streamlined. Thinking of Font Awesome types of services are making the process a lot quicker and more standard.

      7 points
      • Cody SanfilippoCody Sanfilippo, 4 years ago

        Which in turn makes them more recognizable.

        4 points
        • Hans van de BruggenHans van de Bruggen, 4 years ago

          Agreed. The Sparrow icon was the runaway winner for simplicity, and seemed the most timeless of the lot. An icon's duty goes beyond simply beauty.

          3 points
        • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, 4 years ago

          While stifling creativity, minimizing brand differentiation // promoting non-secular design, and making compound metaphors more difficult to communicate...

          2 points
      • Dan GDan G, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

        This is the equivalent of the "$5 dollar logos are ruining the design industry".

        Yes there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing and yes there are lot of people out there doing bad work.

        However, saying that the 'art is being lost' is ridiculous. There is some amazing (icon) work being done. Not liking something =/= everything is shit.

        6 points
        • J LiJ Li, 4 years ago

          Not liking something =/= everything is shit.

          Nobody implied this. I'm saying with all the icons available for download nowadays, how many designers will spend hours upon hours creating a set of icons specifically for their project? If given a choice, many will choose the quicker method.

          1 point
          • Gabriel LovatoGabriel Lovato, 4 years ago

            There were tons and tons and tons of "illustrative" icon kits available for free or for very cheap, back in the late 90s and early 00s. A lot of software and web sites at the time used the same kits. Doing derivative and unoriginal work from standard and popular kits is definitely not a trend that has emerged with the current minimalist/flat aesthetic that Eli is always blaming for all the world's problems.

            1 point
          • Dan GDan G, 4 years ago

            Nobody implied this.

            Have you missed the last 20 blog posts about how flat design is killing the industry?

            1 point
          • Terry OTerry O, 4 years ago

            Not liking something =/= everything is shit.

            Nobody implied this.

            That's basically Schiff's one and only argument.

            0 points
    • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, 4 years ago

      It's just a phase of trends.

      ...much like the art of being able to play blisteringly fast, long and complicated guitar solos. There's not much call for it nowadays. Maybe not such a great loss though :-)

      1 point
    • Jacob TaylorJacob Taylor, 4 years ago

      No it's not. This assertion is based on nothing.

      0 points
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    Crafting Application Icons.

    FTFY

    It seems like a lot of the debate here is due to semantic confusion. FontAwesome icons are different than these icons. They are not meant for the same thing.

    1 point
  • Jacob TaylorJacob Taylor, 4 years ago

    The art of icon design is steadily being lost with each passing year.

    What are you basing this assertion on?

    1 point
  • Win LinWin Lin, 4 years ago

    Yes, the art of icon design has been getting lost with each passing year - https://www.google.com/search?q=paul+rand+icon&espv=2&biw=1397&bih=805&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMIkYK2kOGPxwIVS3s-Ch2wiQTv

    0 points