No icon, no app!

Every app needs an icon, a logo, something that people can recognize it by. Many apps have really nice ones and many don’t. Most importantly the icon should be unique.

My first idea was to do something cheap like create a button in gimp and write something on it. I quickly trashed that one. Cheap looks cheap and that is that.

My second idea was to hope that a google search would turn up something, however thoughts on copyright and licensing got rid of that one even faster. So I picked up something with a creative commons license to have something to work with while I was thinking of a solution.

Next I thought to just try and find stock vector graphics at one of the great stock sites on the net. I also needed icons the tabs and the menus. The stock sites didn’t work either because (1) they are expensive and (2) I just did not find anything that clicked.

I came to the conclusion that there was no way around making the icon myself. Quite a scary prospect when you have never done any graphic design whatsoever. Still I installed some vector graphics tools. After trying several I stayed with inkscape. There are a lot of really great tutorials for inkscape. Trying to learn how to use inkscape, I completed just one of those (two, to tell the truth, I already linked to the other in my previous article!). I read a bit more of the documentation and just started with the ideas I had for the icon.

My first version looked like this (yeah you just laugh and do better!). It’s simlple and ugly. The only effect I had learned at that point was to make a kind of shadow using a copy of an object and blurring it. It truly looks like made by the dilettante that I am!
Then with the knowledge of the tutorial I spent several hours fiddling and turned up with this! I think it already shows my idea to have a stylized scale. As I am using the orange color for icons inside the app I thought it would be a good idea to choose the same coloring for the icon.

The grey background looks okay when the icon is on a white background but the contrast is too weak and in use on my phone it looked bad. I wasn’t happy either using the letters (at that point I was calling the app “Daily Weight”). They were just filler material because it was getting late and dinner was calling.

Finally – the next morning – after again studying the android launcher icon guidelines (I know I didn’t manage to follow them, I am just not a graphic designer), I spent several more hours changing the design and then starting over completely. In the end I got to my final current version (there are no final versions ever!). I really wanted to incorporate the droid into the icon.

I am still not entirely happy with the looks of the smaller versions. I might drop the feet again. I really like them in this large picture. When you scale the image to icon size the feet make the icon look rather busy.

As with the development part of the app I am hoping that with some practice it will become easier to create icons. If I ever manage to win the lottery I might hire a professional for this task. For now I must do with my own “skills”.

I have a couple non-android posts lined up in the queue, I just never get around to writing them because there’s always something android that seems more important.

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5 Responses to No icon, no app!

  1. Niftan says:

    I really like your icon. How long did it take you to create it?



    • Sonja says:

      Thanks! All in all I think I worked on it on the computer for about 10 hours. Working on it in my mind a few more hours even. As I said I am hoping to become faster.

  2. Uli says:

    I think the icon is really great. It looks very professional and I think it is quite obvious what it stands for — at least as long you don’t drop the feed! So for a smaller version you might have to spend another couple of hours to get a similar good result 😉

    BTW: I like the color scheme, orange and black 😉

    • Sonja says:

      I’ve had feedback from one of the testers, that on phones with small screens the icon becomes too tiny and the feet are not recognizable anymore. I’ll have to get creative with that one.

  3. Jones says:

    But on large screen, it looks really great!
    How about just dropping the toes for the smaller versions?