Graphic Design Icon Principles To Stick To

Graphic design icon are a staple for designers. They can be used to represent anything from a website. When done correctly, they can be extremely effective in relaying a message quickly and easily in many formats.

This blog post will comment on and discuss some of the basic principles that all graphic designers should stick to when creating icons. By following these simple tips, you can create stylish and effective icons.

Why Are Icons Necessary?

Icons are necessary because they can be used to quickly and easily represent an idea. They enhance communication in the longer run. They are often used in place of words, saving space and making a design more visually appealing.

Some examples can be an unlimited downloads icon or a free graphic design and free icons. Additionally, icons can help break up large amounts of text, making a page more user-friendly and your ideas more high quality.

Graphic Design Icon Principles

graphic design icon

Following are some of the basic principles that all graphic designers should stick to when creating graphic design icons:

Holistic Icon Design

Icons are used in graphic design systems to customize your websites and apps. Icons are many graphic elements that must work together harmoniously, whether designed for desktop applications or Web sites. This reasoning should be applied to all icon sets.

Individually, icons can be praised for their aesthetic solutions, but they do not work on their own. Evaluate your icon designs according to the graphic system you’re employing them in. Ensure that each icon stands out from the others while still operating as a group.

If you need to create numerous icons, you need to consider over pictures for the entire collection of icons before beginning with illustrating activities,” author Yegor Gilyov writes in the Turbo Milk essay Designing an iconic language. This is one of the article’s two main points on icon design. He says that neglecting to prepare how the entire collection of icons would operate together from the start will result in a big loss of time since redesign will be required.


If you’re developing an intranet for a small business rather than a product that will be distributed abroad, you’ll have to think about things differently. Cultural elements are crucial while making symbols. For common elements you may utilize in your designs, symbols may differ.

So creating an international symbol based on a rural mailbox design from one country is a bad idea—a clear example of what not to do. They argue that Apple’s Mail symbol is more identifiable than stamps because stamps are more culturally global.

Size of Icon

When you go vector and design your icon in Illustrator, you’ll be tempted to scale the design and utilize it at any size. This isn’t possible with icons. At 16 pixels, a hazy smudge appears good at 512 pixels. The base design for icons should be used as a starting point, but each output size should have its own optimal design according to the interfaces.

However, icon design is not a one-size-fits-all scalable solution medium. This is one of the reasons why Photoshop is a viable alternative to other tools. Designers who create icons in Illustrator will still tidy them up in Photoshop or jump through hoops to get their symbols to appear decent at small sizes when exported directly from Illustrator. Don’t believe in the idea that icon design is just a vector medium. After all, we’re producing pixels here.

Additional vector tools and masks in Photoshop may be used to level the scaled playing field between the applications. If you’re comfortable with both Illustrator and Photoshop, you might be able to create a workflow that works well for both. Make use of Smart Objects. You could also try utilizing the Photoshop add-on Icon Builder. The approaches to designing small icons and huge icons are vastly different.

Keeping Icons Simple

Since operating systems now include icons that stretch to big proportions, the temptation to become artistic with your icon font and designs. While realism can add appeal to an icon design, it should not take precedence over its capacity to perform efficiently.

On Icon Design, Smashing Magazine has a great summary of the Apple Human Interface guidelines. Aqua’s section on realism makes some excellent points about realism’s constraints and when symbolism is required. This section discusses the issues of the contradiction between realism and simplicity in icon design.

Avoid making icon designs too complicated. Avoid overloading an icon design with too many components or unnecessarily illustrating an icon. I’m sure everyone is aware of the RSS icon’s common symbol.

Consistent Lighting, Reflections, and Shadows

It’s critical that the realism you use in your designs all work together. If you’re going to employ a light source from one direction, stick with it. Otherwise, you risk losing your icons’ integrated design. Consider the lighting in the design where your icons will be positioned. The design will seem unprofessional if the light source of the icons clashes with the websites or apps design you’re utilizing them in, and you will eventually need to upgrade them.

A section on icon lighting and shading may be found in the Windows Vista User Experience Guide. The Vista Icon set has very stringent criteria in the manual. This raises the bar for icon designers and provides a consistent icon system. Use shadows to elevate items optically from the backdrop and make 3D objects look grounded, rather than awkwardly floating in space,” according to one guideline. This handbook contains many additional rules.

Limited Perspective

The different perspectives in your icon design collection should complement each other. Stick with icons that are viewed straight ahead if you have them. If you put one at a specified angle, make sure that all of the icons work in the same manner. Consider a camera that is positioned at a certain vantage point and looks at all of the objects from the same angle. This ensures that your icon designs are consistent.

Make Consistent Icon Set Styles

Lighting and perspective are certainly important factors in an icon’s style, but there are many other factors to consider as well.  If you’re trying to integrate your symbol into a grunge-style Web site, you’ll probably need to add texture to improve your logo design for Wepik using an online logo maker like Wepik.



Make note. Realism should not be the primary focus of your icon designs. Your icons need to be easily identifiable, even when they are displayed in small sizes. Utilize consistent lighting, reflections, shadows, and perspective in your icon designs to maintain a cohesive look. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator both offer great opportunities for creating beautiful icons. Remember to keep it simple and have fun! Visit our website to learn more about graphic designing, tech, and software involved in the process.