With this project, we were asked by our employer to create an icon set for a topic that was interesting to us. There were a few project requirements, including consistent design throughout each icon. However, each icon needed to communicate a single message. We also had to use illustrator, which is specifically used for creating projects like these. Illustrator lets us create vector graphics, which do not pixelate when made bigger or smaller. These were a requirement because icons come in a variety of sizes depending on what they are used for. It was challenging to create original icons, without using any text, gradients, drop shadows, pixels, or raster effects., when creating icons, the clearer you can communicate your message visually, the better. With all this in mind, this post explores my design process.
THE AUDIENCE AND MESSAGE
One of the things I love most besides film, are comic books. When I thought about what I cons I would like to create I decided to do Marvel female superheroes, as those are some of my favorites. To create an effective design, I had to make sure that my icons had a clear audience and message. My main audience was targeted at female superhero fans ages 16-24 who liked the minimalist style. My main message was to communicate which superhero was which with only basic face and hair colors, and costumes. To start, I made a few sketches to get an idea of what I could do. Because many superhero fans do not read comic books, I thought I would focus on the superheroes that are (or will soon be) in the movies. This included Black Widow, She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel.
At first, I thought I would have them all cross their arms and display some of their abilities and costumes. Although I do think it’s a great idea, it is very difficult in execution. I would have to move away from the minimalist style. Then I tried a profile shot for the second set of sketches. I realized very quickly this would be even more difficult then the first one to execute. On my third sketch, I decided to focus on their faces and hair colors with just a bit of costumes to indicate the colors of their costumes. This seemed to be much simpler and more in line with my objective to stay in the minimalist style. I really think that starting with the sketch before even starting on Illustrator really helped me form a better idea with my message in mind.
I thought the best way to tie all of these very different female superheroes together was to give them the same basic face and hair shape. I made them unique by adding some details here and there, and incorporated some of the costumes. It was very important that the colors that they were usually associated with were used in my design. I specially added more detail to Captain Marvel and added her symbol to the costume. I also wanted to make sure all my colors were vibrant, just like in the comic books. After all, comic book characters are designed to jump off the page, so that was important for me to incorporate.
One of the biggest things I got out of this project was how important feedback can be. Some of the comments I got was that Scarlet Witch really stood out, with her helmet and her lack of bangs, since all the other icons have them. Also when I first created them, I did all the necks individually and that was one of the things pointed out the most. This feedback helped me revise my draft a second time. I also thought I could get away with different hair types if I had more icons and still have bangs on each one, but with some different elements,
This time, I removed Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel as they are not as recognizable with their costumes, and added more iconic figures like Storm, Rogue, Mystique and The Invisible Woman. I also adjusted the necks to be the same across the board. On the second round of critiques however, it was evident that The Invisible Woman and Black Widow did not stand out, and also that something was wrong with the way my laptop showed the blue color. I found the blue hex code but for some reason it kept showing up more like a purple. I am so glad we were able to be critique and help one another, because that is something that definitely helped during this design process and helped me create a better final product.
With all the feedback I received, I decided to remove Black Widow and the Invisible Woman because they weren’t as recognizable as the other 4 characters. On the top row starting from the left it’s Storm and Mystique. On the bottom row starting from the left it’s She-Hulk and Rogue. I made Storm’s hair a little grayer to make sure she stood out from a white background. I used another computer to make sure my blue hex code was correct as well, as the blue is an iconic part of Mystique’s design. I also decided to add a little yellow to the costume, a callback to her yellow eyes. I was pretty happy with the other two characters, so I left them the same. I really think all these elements and colors make the characters recognizable and it’s something female comic fans would really enjoy. Here are the other sizes for web use of my icons.
This is just one example of the importance of the design process and making sure you think of your audience every step of the way. If I had simply started designing without doing any sketches I would have had a few tries at designs that were too complex and weren’t close to the minimalist design I was going for. The feedback was extremely important to perfecting my design and keeping the characters recognizable to my target audience. Another thing that really helped me was maintaining those design elements that make the characters iconic, like their skin color, hair, and costumes. The colors are the things that really stand out the most. Although my design is not perfect I really think I accomplished my goal of creating something my target audience will understand and appreciate.