The use of 3D icons is an ideal way to give your application, program or website a fresh look. Whether you are starting something new, or wanting to inject new life into an existing set of icons by sprucing them up, three-dimensionality could be the way to go whatever your theme, be it business, technology, accounting, education, medicine, or indeed software.

3D Icons in BrandingOf course, so-called 3D icons are not literally three-dimensional: they merely have a 3D effect, through the use of colour and rendering which gives the impression of depth. Using the relevant graphic design or illustration software, colours can be graduated to give the effect of light, shadow can be created to give an off-the-page appearance, and special highlighting or sheens can be produced. The design often involves a layering process of images. Design software allows you to consider the finer details, such as showing optical balance which appears accurate to the eye, so that icons appear large or small, up close or in the distance. The final results give the icons a glossy finish, making them and your service appear real and tangible, like graphics you could grab with your hands, yet without the fully realistic quality of photos. The higher the resolution of your application, the better these design techniques work to create depth.

Over the years, applications we use every day have changed in appearance, and that includes the icon set they come with. Both Microsoft and Apple are prime examples of corporations which have retained the identity of the icons used for applications and programs, but revamped them by tweaking colours and, of course, rendering them to produce a multi-dimensional appearance. This has gone beyond the applications alone and is now manifest in the well-known brand logos we see today. For instance, many will remember the Apple Inc. logo as a flat, two-dimensional fruit with a bite taken out of it; today, the image is the same, except that the apple appears rounder and glossier because of the effects and rendering which have been used.

If 3D icons are something your business or company is considering, then it may be worth looking into working with designers to develop your own icon set. While it is true that, with the abundance of material available on the internet, free ready-made icons aren’t at all difficult to come by, these can make for unfortunate inconsistencies in your product: for example, shadows for some icons may appear at the top left, while for others they appear at the bottom left. These icons often don’t show up very well and in some instances not at all. You may end up using 3D icons which are targeted for operating systems different to yours, such as Mac or Linux. The lack of design input on your part mean the colours and style are less likely to fit in with the image of your organisation. It can also be difficult to find useful icons that match common functions found in most programs.

The use of 3D icons is an ideal way to give your application, program or website a fresh look. Whether you are starting something new, or wanting to inject new life into an existing set of icons by sprucing them up, three-dimensionality could be the way to go whatever your theme, be it business, technology, accounting, education, medicine, or indeed software.

Of course, so-called 3D icons are not literally three-dimensional: they merely have a 3D effect, through the use of colour and rendering which gives the impression of depth. Using the relevant graphic design or illustration software, colours can be graduated to give the effect of light, shadow can be created to give an off-the-page appearance, and special highlighting or sheens can be produced. The design often involves a layering process of images. Design software allows you to consider the finer details, such as showing optical balance which appears accurate to the eye, so that icons appear large or small, up close or in the distance. The final results give the icons a glossy finish, making them and your service appear real and tangible, like graphics you could grab with your hands, yet without the fully realistic quality of photos. The higher the resolution of your application, the better these design techniques work to create depth.

3D Icons in BrandingOver the years, applications we use every day have changed in appearance, and that includes the icon set they come with. Both Microsoft and Apple are prime examples of corporations which have retained the identity of the icons used for applications and programs, but revamped them by tweaking colours and, of course, rendering them to produce a multi-dimensional appearance. This has gone beyond the applications alone and is now manifest in the well-known brand logos we see today. For instance, many will remember the Apple Inc. logo as a flat, two-dimensional fruit with a bite taken out of it; today, the image is the same, except that the apple appears rounder and glossier because of the effects and rendering which have been used.

If 3D icons are something your business or company is considering, then it may be worth looking into working with designers to develop your own icon set. While it is true that, with the abundance of material available on the internet, free ready-made icons aren’t at all difficult to come by, these can make for unfortunate inconsistencies in your product: for example, shadows for some icons may appear at the top left, while for others they appear at the bottom left. These icons often don’t show up very well and in some instances not at all. You may end up using 3D icons which are targeted for operating systems different to yours, such as Mac or Linux. The lack of design input on your part mean the colours and style are less likely to fit in with the image of your organisation. It can also be difficult to find useful icons that match common functions found in most programs.

Custom Icon Design

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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