I want to start designing my own icons.

I already have some experience with Photoshop and I made some icons using a tutorial. Do you have any tips on how to learn icon design?

  • 1
    Asking for general tutorial links isn't really on topic for this site.
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 0:04
  • Hi, welcome to GD! I edited your question a little because, as DA01 mentions, we prefer to give answers that explain the design process, rather than linking to tutorials.
    – Yisela
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 0:14

4 Answers 4


It would be good to know what type of icons you have designed, as they can take many shapes and forms.

If you are just starting to work with Photoshop, you could try with some basic icons that have only a gradient background and some solid content. For example:

enter image description here

This is something you can probably do in a short period of time, and it looks good for almost anything you need.

My suggestion would be:

  • Start with shapes. Try squares, round corners, circles. Get familiar with the different shape options you have for an icon. For something like the example, you'd use a Round corner rectangle (I'd say about 5px corners).

  • Experiment with Blending Options. The image above has a 1px #5f9494 stroke (the border around the shape), a little white inner shadow (or inner stroke), and a Gradient for the background. Start with stroke and gradient and try different combinations. You can also use gradients IN the stroke (awesome, right?). The example is a gradient that goes from #abd7d8 to #6baaab.

  • Try different options for the element on the inside: Fonts, shapes, bitmaps. The example has a text layer (t) with a black inner shadow.

More about inner shadows: Understanding inner shadows

More about gradients: How to fill a shape with a gradient

If you are making icons that look like graphics, then my best advice is to practice illustration all you can.

If you have any questions while making your icons feel free to ask here. As long as your problem is descriptive and can be useful for other people, everyone will be happy to help.


PSDTuts, VectorTuts and Smashing Magazine is usually awesome, check these links out:




  • just wanna say they are not that good. just ok.
    – user8795
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 17:27

I follow people who do make good...i mean awesome icons... One Example Is this, Would love to know more.


(keep Clicking Next at bottom AND YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY)!!

Things You could Do:

1) Get Inspired by those who already do it well.

2) Follow tutorials.

3) Study Photorealism and Art. Photorealism will help you make your icons look, even though unrealistic, very believable.

4) Think about what the icon is suppose to be, its purpose and ability to influence in better ways.

5) Learn Illustrator.


Two big things to remember about icon design:

  1. You're trying to communicate as much as possible with as little as possible. There's a quote along the lines of "Great design happens when there's nothing left to remove," and that's critical to remember with icons. Less is more. Study favicons to see how people can condense their branding down to 256 pixels.
  2. You're typically trying to harmonize one icon with any other number of icons. So don't make one 2D and the next one 3D; make sure all of your icons make sense together.
  • 1
    I disagree with #1. Like a logo, an app icon is meant to communicate one thing "this is X". By that I mean it's simply an identifier. It should be unique, and memorable, but does not have to communicate the entire scope of the application it is launching. (I'd perhaps agree a bit if we're talking icons with in the app, but even then, they really shouldn't try to lift too much. In general with icons: keep it simple)
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 5:56
  • @DA01 I'm not saying that a single icon needs to communicate many things, just that it should convey one thing as simply as possible. So, if you wanted to have an icon that used crayons, it'd be more preferable to have just enough of one crayon showing to identify what it is instead of scaling down the Crayola 64-color box. Less busy tends to be better.
    – Brendan
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 14:13

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