I'm making an icon for a speed reader app for the iPhone. These are more or less the designs I've been toying with:

enter image description here

Looking at them though, I just find they're a little boring. With the iOS 7 paradigm they seem to fit okay, but I just want them to be a little more exciting.

To illustrate what I mean, I really like the icon for Lumo:

enter image description here

It's very simple, similar to mine, but has a lot more character to the icon. I only don't like the long shadow thing.

How can I spice up my flat iOS icons? (I've tried really hard to avoid the word "pop" :))

  • 3
    I think the latter of your 3 options is the most 'iconic' and likely the path you want to pursue given that you like the Lumo icon.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


I think what you're looking for is very similar to this recent question:
How to achieve a gradient in adobe illustrator

The issue is that a lot of what seems flat in the latest UI trends really isn't.
There are subtle gradients and hard edged shadows all over the place.

As I noted in the comments, I think the main thing you are noticing is how your very nice icon separates from the button shape: Yours looks like it's sitting within the shape, the Lumo example appears to float or protrude above.

On your green background you could

  1. Add a subtle top to bottom gradient

  2. Overlay that gradient with a hard-edged glass highlight

  3. Add a hard-edged shadow dropping from the book at about 45°

Just those simple changes will have you much closer to your envied example.

  • Completely agree with this answer. Some decoration in the background layer can go a LONG way (but I think those icons are pretty neat as they are too).
    – Yisela
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 6:05
  • I agree, the icons look really good. I think the piece that's bugging @DougSmith is simply getting the icon to stand above the button ground. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 16:38

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