I am from Pocatello, Idaho, and I have an endless number of friends and family that love hunting each year. When I was in the process of brainstorming for the icon set I wanted to create, I happened to visit the home of a friend that spends a considerable amount of time in the outdoors, and I noticed various mounts of different game he’d hunted hanging on his walls. I also notices some lose, smaller antlers on his bookshelf. When I asked him about them, he mentioned his love of “shed hunting,” explaining that each and every antler is unique. That is something that caught my attention. I decided that something that would be interesting to showcase in an icon graphic set would be different antlers from various species of animals around the world. Each one is unique.
My objective with this concept is to create an icon set that one of my hunting acquaintances would print, frame, and hang in his professional office. I want to display a set of unique antlers and horns in a sleek, almost “modern” way, that is simple, yet clear, as to what animal is being portrayed.
The first part of my creative process included bringing the ideas in my head to life as concepts on paper. I also had to do some research. I knew about elk, moose, and deer, but what other kinds of antlers could I include in my icon set? After several Google search, I compiled a good set and got sketching to see what I could do.
As I sketched my ideas, I kept my objective in mind. I wanted to keep the icons simple. I decided the best way to portray the antlers and horns with the least amount of subject distraction would be including only the skulls of the corresponding animal, possibly in a super simplified way. I tried different skull shapes (triangles, circles, and rectangles) and also tried sketching the skulls more realistically while referencing photographs of the species I had selected. What I found is that I liked the true-to-life shape of the skull combined with the antlers or horns the best. I decided that the features defined in the skull differentiate the different sizes and characteristics of the animals, and was something important to include in my final icon set.
From my sketches I was able to get the ideas into Adobe Illustrator. I decided to use an extremely simple color scheme to keep the icons simple, uniform, and sleek. I used the pen tool to create the antlers based off of my sketches. I used the pencil tool to draw the more complicated details and the skull shapes. I had to adjust the anchor points and clean up some of the shapes, but in the end I was abled to achieve the desired shapes. I used a few lines with different strokes to make details on the skulls and some of the antlers.
Some feedback I received was to use shapes instead of strokes to achieve shadows and the details on the skulls and antlers. The other suggestion was that I should add dark shadows to the skulls to balance with the dark antlers. Someone also commented that the browns and the blacks could be simplified to a simpler color scheme to make a more focused design.
I used several techniques within Illustrator to bring together my icon set. First, for the shadows on the skull I used the “draw inside” tool to crate shapes that were then clipped by the main skull shape.
I also was able to use color swatches that I created and saved.
As I started on my final set, I made some decisions that effected greatly the final outcome. I decided to kill my darlings and SIMPLIFY. I simplified my color scheme, I removed facial features such as eye sockets, but augmented the shadows on the skulls. I also simplified the antlers. I felt like taking away some of the clutter made the set more effective in my objective as a whole. The focus is clearly on the antlers, and the viewer can see the unity in the set.
My final product is exactly what I wanted: an icon set showcasing antlers from all over the world in a simple, unified, and informative way. I learned about the Adobe Illustrator features that were needed in the process. I will be printing this off, framing it, and gifting it to my friend.
Feel free to leave critiques, comments, or ideas!