The evolution of the flat icon design, to the ‘Almost Flat’ Icon Style

OK, it’s time to nail my colours to the wall. Sorry, but I don’t like the flat icon style. I think they are boring and bland. When they first started appearing and even worse started becoming popular, I did get a little worried about where things were headed.

Sorry, but I don’t like the flat icon style

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great artists out there who can make some very clever and beautiful shapes and designs in monochrome; it is just a style that doesn’t do it for me.

Fortunately, the ‘Metro‘ trend has evolved quite a bit over the last 12 months or so and ‘completely flat’ seems to have given ground to ‘almost flat’. And that, my friends, is in my book at least, jolly good news. Almost Flat Icons are still very clean and simple but often use gorgeous muted tones and tiny, subtle 3D embellishments and shadows to give them extra punch and lift.

I have to say I really love ‘Almost Flat’; it is a natural homogenising of the extremes of photo-realistic 3D and super stark Metro styles. It is like the pendulum of icon design swung first one way, then the other and now oscillates in every diminishing arcs over this new area icon designers seem keen to explore.

These are exciting times for Icon Designers

These are exciting times for icon designers and user interface designers alike, the trends have spread into operating systems, websites and other media. It is almost like a whole new palette of colours have been unearthed and a new slightly more feminine look is in.

Anyway enough ramble. Here are some of my favourite Almost Flat Icon Designs. Enjoy!

Almost Flat Icon
Mike | Creative Mints
Flat Icons
Manu Gamero
Flat Icon
Jee
Almost Flat Icons
Pixelden
Almost Flat Icons
SanityD
Flat Icons
Jee
Almost Flat Icons
Michael Dolejš
Almost Flat Icons
Pierre Borodin
Almost Flat Icons
Pixelden
Almost Flat Icons
Jacob Cummings
Almost Flat Icon
Studio4
Almost Flat Icons
Sunbzy
Flat Icon
Aric
Almost Flat Icons
Nick Kumbari

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Almost Flat Icons
David Kovalev
Almost Flat Icons
Vaibhav Bhat
Almost Flat Icons
Pixelden
Almost Flat Icons
Gimpo Studio
Almost Flat Icons
Denis
Almost Flat Icons
Denis Sychev
Almost Flat Icons
Pixelden
Almost Flat Icons
TC
Almost Flat Icons
Chiou
Almost Flat Icons
Gris
Almost Flat Icons
Raul Taciu
Almost Flat Icons
buatoom
Almost Flat Icons
Ivo Ivanov
Almost Flat Icons
Barry Mccalvey

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Almost Flat Icons
Nick Zhukov
Almost Flat Icons
Newar
Almost Flat Icons
Raven Yu
Almost Flat Icons
Pixelden
Almost Flat Icons
Zaib Ali
Almost Flat Icons
Thomas van Herck
Almost Flat Icons
Zaib Ali
Almost Flat Icons
Bosco
Almost Flat Icons
Mia Natt och Dag
Almost Flat Icons
Bosco
Almost Flat Icons
Roman Rudnik | IconDesignLAB
Almost Flat Icons
Simeon K
Almost Flat Icons
Lubos Volkov
Almost Flat Icons
Jamie Syke
Almost Flat Icons
JustD
Almost Flat Icons
Sean Farrell

You could easily argue some of these icon designs are bordeline 3D or borderline flat but I think that is OK. These are all interesting icon sets, flat by nature but in my opinion have a little something that lift them in to the realm I call ‘Almost Flat’.

Each of the artists above are visible on Dribbble.

Adam Parrish

Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…

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