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I am currently using the Entypo icon pack for the design of my website. Unfortunately it's missing some icons I want. I am willing to create them but I'm afraid to create inconsistencies because I have a very limited knowledge in icon design.

How can I prevent inconsistencies when designing new icons for a pack?

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

To prevent inconsistencies you just have to make sure whatever other icons you choose to fill the gaps make sense thematically. The icons in your link are all one toned, very simple shapes with a few outliers here and there that have a little more detail. You'll want to find icons from other sets that match this style.

When choosing other icons, make sure that they feel right sitting next to the icons in this set. This is mainly a judgment call on your part. If I get even a small sense it doesn't associate well, I usually take that to mean that it won't work. Trust your judgments on this. Users aren't always the best at understanding design, but they are well adept and understanding consistency in design.

I'm a big proponent of the Noun Project when it comes to a free resource for icons. As you'll see a majority of those icons will fit thematically with they Entypo icon pack.

In terms of how to thematically create icons for a consistent experience, it might be of use to read the guidelines of how a company like Fedora created an icon set. The Echo Project goes into the specifics of what they consider for a consistent experience. You'll see they have a detailed descriptions of each of the design elements (color palette, style elements, etc) and how they make those determinations. It's well worth the read.

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Thanks for the quick answer. I was wondering maybe one could objectively rely on some aspects of the design, say the thickness of the strokes, the sharpness of the angle, ... –  TKrugg Jul 22 '13 at 9:40
    
@TKrugg It's all relative. Good icon sets usually have defining characteristics that allow a user to understand they fit together and with the design system they are being used in. If you want a more specific answer you should look at how larger scale teams design for consistency in experience. I am updating my answer with a few links that should help –  Adam Schuld Jul 22 '13 at 14:27
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This can be difficult to do well without experience. On the other hand, sometimes you just have to go for it. In that case, start by analyzing the basic framework of the icon system as your guide rails. These are the very broad properties to consider.

  • Color palette
  • Geometry
  • Style

Specifically for Envato:
You are working with a single color of your choosing. Easy enough.
The geometry is pretty variable with no clear underlying grid. A slight tendency towards 45° angles and modest but inconsistent corner rounding seem to be present.
The style is one of reductionist modernism favoring standard iconography rather than defining a unique metaphor. Sort of an Apple approach without the texture and gloss.

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