My first original Iconography

Usually, I use IconExperience icons. They rarely let me down.  Often, I will need to combine and manipulate them slightly, but their base set makes this very easy.  2500 icons in 5 different sizes with shadows and without in a neatly organized set of transparent PNG files.   However, for Marketo‘s next big product launch, I had to get creative.  We needed something more original and stylized.

I tried to hire an iconographer, at first.  I literally emailed a dozen different icon illustrators. I got no positive responses.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had money and a desire for skilled labor and I couldn’t get anyone to respond. (Technically, one guy emailed me back, to tell me he couldn’t do it)  Still, that sucked.  Deadlines were looming, so I had to produce my own images.

The challenge was simple:  Fires and Stars in a 0-3 range, plus one that meant 3 flames/stars.  This was to be embedded into a Salesforce.com AppExchange product.

I started with Google and istockphoto to inspire me.  What did other designers to with a similar challenge?  How can fire look like fire when it’s so small?  Should fire cast a drop shadow? How can I make them look professional, consistent, original and fun all at the same time?  I made dozens of attempts.  I used Photoshop CS4 to make filters, borders, shadows, fades, and more against different original images.  I used online tutorials to try and make fire.  I felt like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. “I have made FIRE!” (See below) (Or see it in German)

I am very happy with the results.  They have all the attributes I was looking for.  The combination of the two automatically made a little star guy with his hair on fire.  It’s fun and communicates the right message.  That is a very good, hot lead.

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This was my first real iconography.  I wouldn’t want to do it for a living, but I feel proud, like I accomplished a hard task.

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