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Are there any books that teach the theory and process required to create icons like the Chrome logo below using Photoshop?

Chrome Browser icon by MVBen

I know the basics of Photoshop and its tools but are there any books that teach how to combine them to create stunning icons, etc.?

Source: Dribbble.

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3 Answers 3

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I don't think this is a study of the tools (Photoshop, et. al) it's more a study of light, perspective, and traditional artistic techniques. Regardless of what you use to create an image, you need to understand how light works, how texture works, how the perception of depth is created, etc.

If you know the basics of Photoshop, it's merely a matter of practice to apply techniques in a manner which more closely mimics reality. Even though there may be 10 different methods for creating a particular aspect of an image. If you know how to create a shadow, then that's all there is not know about the tool. Beyond that it's a matter of creating a shadow at the right angle, the right depth, the right darkness, etc. and do all that consistently across the entire image, you're on your way. All of this is not really related to any particular tool. A great many users simply go too far with effects or painting and destroy any fabricated reality.

I've always found books by Burne Hogarth to be very helpful in learning tricks for realism from a fabricated standpoint. Even though many of the books focus on figure drawing, the ideas contained in the books translate very well to any shape, not just human figures. I'd especially look at the books relating to light and shade.

I'd also suggest practicing with a pencil and paper which more easily allows immediate exploration.

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Thanks for the reply! I just ordered Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I think I just need to learn (again) how to draw. I used to be good at drawing and even oil painting when I was a kid but then I just stopped drawing/painting... Let's see how it goes... :) –  Behrang Jan 2 '13 at 6:55

You need to learn the fundamentals of art. It is as you said, just knowing photoshop wont make anyone a designer. It is just a tool.

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With this kind of thing, the internet is typically going to offer you more than a book. (As a committed bibliophile, it's hard to admit that)

PSD Tuts has a tutorial (probably many) perfectly suited to what you're looking for. It walks you though the process of adding gradients, shadows, and highlights to imply dimension.

enter image description here

Vector Tuts has a similar tutorial walking you through the basics of faking dimension on a camera lens in Illustrator.

enter image description here

Ultimately, I think you'll find a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop to be better than a single app. Once you get the hang of those basic elements (Pshop's lighting effects are handy too), you'll be able to apply the concept to anything.

The real challenge is understanding how a 2D object would act in 3D space. That's an acquired skill, one that benefits a great deal from some time spent doing pencil renderings or some other type of analog study.

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