My Tools

Tools by no means define the level of quality you’re able to achieve. The items listed below depict the tools I’m comfortable with using for icon design but your tools may look very different. The goal of sharing is to show what I use and give those interested in icon design a glimpse inside my toolbox.

Apps

Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop

A majority of my time is spent in Illustrator making vector images, but Photoshop plays an important role as well. Complex such as Mac OS X icons are easily achieved with layer styles.

If you’re planning to invest time into learning either for icon design, I would recommend making Illustrator the number one priority.

 

Image Optim

Compression is an important step in optimizing images. Image Optim removes unnecessary information from images and dramatically reduces the file size. I would recommend running images through it before using them.

Icon Slate

Composing icons and ensuring each size looks correct is important. Icon Slate allows you to do this quickly and in multiple ways. I use this to preview icons before packaging them.

The ability to see app icons in use is fantastic. There’s no better way to see the final concept in action.

 

 

Physical Tools

 

Technical Pencils

When drawing icon concepts, I rely on two technical pencils: the Staedtler Mars 780, and another silver model purchased locally. Unfortunately do not know it’s origin but will update this page if I find a link to the appropriate product.

 

Moleskine Voyageur Notebook

For notes and quick small sketches I like to use the Moleskine Voyageur. It has three sections with blank, line, and dot-grid paper which allows me to use it flexibly when I’m on the go.

I’m a fan of Moleskine notebooks in general, but the Voyager is my go to for most situations.

Magic Mouse

I’m often asked what I use to draw vectors for icons. My go to is the Apple Magic Mouse.

Sure, it isn’t glamorous but (for icon design) it gets the job done much better than expensive drawing tablets.

 

Baron Fig Notebooks

For drawing concepts I enjoy using the Baron Fig Confidant. Their notebooks have a sturdy structure and pleasing form factor.

 

 

Black Pearl Eraser

The smooth edges and oval shape of the Paper Mate Black Pearl makes erasing easy for me. The ability to erase both large and small areas easily is great for working quickly through sketches.

Micron Pens

Although I don’t use them often, Micron pens come in handy when I need to ink icon concepts.

The set I use is a basic pack with six sizes that work perfectly for my needs.

 

 

Lead Sharpener

I suppose there isn’t much to say about a lead sharpener. However, I do want to point out the improved sharpening abilities of this lead sharpener over one that comes standard with the technical pencils above. You’re able to sharpen easier and even remove lead dust from the sharpened tip when you’re done.

 

Blue Lead

This is the main reason I own two technical pencils. The blue lead provides me with the ability to do rough sketches before tightening everything up with gray lead. It’s great for something fast and light.

Copic Markers

When I need to figure out shading, this set of grayscale Copic Markers comes in handy. I would recommend getting this set over the color versions if your goal is to define shading. Because icon design is so focused on the digital aspect, the sketching phase doesn’t have to be polished.

 

 

 

Audio Equipment

 

Shure SM7B Microphone

I can say without a doubt that the Shure SM7B has been a solid investment. It is my primary microphone for podcasting, video calls, and screen recordings.

 

Heil PL2T Boom Arm

My desk setup would not be complete without this boom arm. It pivots and extends, allowing me to keep my microphone out of the way but close when I need it.

 

Marshall Monitor Headphones

I’ve been consistently impressed with the Marshall Monitor headphones. They have great sound, fit nicely over my ears, and even have a completely removable cable.

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in learning icon design, I’m working on a guide full of common icon design practices and great information about getting started. To receive it for free, simply enter your email in the footer. ↓

 

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