Graphic Details: Creating an Icon

Posted by Lindy Thibodaux on

As one of the Dry Eye Company people doing graphic design work, I was recently asked to help with the creation of our new shop category icons. Most were fairly straightforward, but coming up with a simple graphic representation of the Lubricants Eye Drops category proved to be especially challenging. I thought you'd enjoy a peek at that process!

For no purpose other than to set up the dramatic reveal (patience!), here's a screenshot of what our shop home page looked like before its very recent makeover:

The point at which I came in was after the initial icon concept was more or less established (thanks to Aidan and Rebecca), with the Nights, Sclerals, and Optical icons:



The next one we tackled was the newly-renamed Lids category. This gave us some issues too; for example, how do you represent eyelids in a simple graphic form without it looking like the sun? We ultimately decided on a line drawing approach, which is a bit different from the solid-shape ones we already had, but it took us a while to get there:



Aside: In addition to coming up with a workable concept, there are all sorts of other things to consider: The overall width of each icon needs to be as consistent as possible, because they will all have to align vertically on the shop page; they all need to have a similar feel (which is why I changed the last Lids version to rounded edges instead of sharp and square); the type size of the word on each icon has to match the others, which is not always easy with such a variety of shapes. And that's just off the top of my head! Not as easy as the end result would have us believe. End of aside.

And now we come to what we originally referred to as the "lube" category. (Am I the only one who thinks of having the oil changed on my car when I hear that word?) The original concept was to represent the little ampoules that preservative-free lubricant eye drops come in:



You can see the text-alignment issue here— the word "lube" has to run practically into the narrow neck of the tube, in order to align with the words of the other icons. And when we looked at the Lube icon along with others, it was clear the lube one was really out of proportion:



The two "lube" icons on the left have their words aligned with the ones above them; the "lube" one on the right is not aligned, although the graphic part is actually centered with the "optical" one.

It was at this rather stalled point in the process when Rebecca came up with a new name for this category: drops. The word itself started a whole new line of thinking about icon shapes (although we still kept the word "lube" around for a while):



After I mentioned to Rebecca that the last two of these reminded me of the CBS logo, it was back to the drawing board, eventually using the word "drops":



And finally... eureka!



Because each icon has to work for a variety of print and online uses, we need to be able to reverse the colors, as shown here. Hard-working little icons!

And now, as promised, the Big Reveal!

Once again, the Dry Eye Shop home page before...

...and after. Ta-da!


Makes a difference seeing them all in context, doesn't it? I just love all the bright, happy colors!
Believe it or not, this is a condensed version of the entire process. It certainly can be challenging, but it's always fun!

And those are my graphic details for today.

-- Lindy

Curious about other graphic design-related things we do? Let us know in the Comments below, and we may feature your question in a future post!


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