I wouldn’t really call myself a gamer. But upon reflection, a good portion of my childhood was spent playing games on various systems. I always have this nostalgic connection to the consoles I love and played with as a child and wanted to test my Illustrator abilities through recreating these systems and some of their accompanying accessories.
For this reason, I decided to idea to create an icon set of 14 icons featuring some of my favorite old school game consoles. I tried my absolute best to pay attention to all of the details that are included in the pieces, which definitely posed its own difficulties.
Coming up with an idea was the first step I had to accomplish for this project. To begin with I thought about different things that I care about, whether positively or otherwise. I wrote down a short list while brainstorming ideas, and I wrote down everything that came to mind that was doable. I went through TV shows, video game characters, musical instruments, camera equipment, and more. Eventually, I settled on doing video game consoles.
Once I had my initial idea, I got to the drawing pad. Usually, I hate sketching. With a passion. My hands get sweaty, it ruins the paper, I get frustrated with my inability to draw, and I stop mildly upset (or worse). This time, I went about sketching differently. I layed down on the floor and I stared at the light on my ceiling. I just stared at it. I didn’t let my mind wander or focus on any one part for too long. Soon enough, I was bored out of my mind, so I picked up my pencil and got sketching. In no time at all I had over 30 different potential icon designs on the paper in front of me.
Get that stuff digitized
After a quick round of critique and suggestion, I decided on doing console and controller designs of the “older” (relative term here) Nintendo products. I took my sketches into Adobe Illustrator and started designing, and very quickly it became apparent that there would be more difficulties than I initially anticipated. Firstly, how much detail should I include? Should I make the icons real to life? What should I simplify? I started out almost entirely flat and simple, but didn’t really love the way that that felt. I found that with subtle shadowing and highlighting, my design was amplified greatly. I chose that as a general theme and stuck to it throughout.
Another thing that became apparent was that this project was going to take a sizeable amount of time. I spent a total of about 15 hours on this project from concept to completion. The thing that was great, though, was that I didn’t feel like I was wasting time at all. I solved my own problems, I learned, I failed, and it was all fantastic. I would find myself opening my project at 9 p.m. and snapping back to reality some time after 1 in the morning. It was kind of great. Eventually I got to the point where I had all of my icons to a mostly finished stage.
But, something still didn’t feel right. The set didn’t feel cohesive. I knew that I liked the color scheme, as it was accurate to the things that are represented. I didn’t want to group them into columns of console, controller, and game because that would leave a couple of icons out (the gun and memory card) and since everything is a different base size it didn’t look good. After trying a few different things, I thought that setting the icons themselves apart from the background would maybe do the trick so I tried it with a thick offset path. And I really liked the results.
The offset path made the colors pop and set everything apart from the background and made it feel more like everything belonged to the same group. So there it is: a set of 14 cohesive icons unified by theme and design. I really enjoyed all of the time that went into the creation of these icons. I became much more comfortable with tools that I may have struggled with before (or didn’t know existed at all) and realized that I am capable of more than I may have given myself credit for. Overall, a success.