The purpose of this project was to create a cohesive set of 12 icons using the shape and drawing tools in Adobe Illustrator. Using proper technique, principles of design, and spending hours and hours of staring at my laptop shifting anchor points, I’ve managed to accomplish just that.
Right off the bat, coming up with an idea for 12 cohesive icons proved to be a little more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. After a brainstorming session, I decided to do 12 fairytale related icons. However, seeing as this is a write up for 12 vintage motorcycle icons, that idea clearly didn’t pan out. My vision just wasn’t what it turned out to be.
After playing around with ideas a little more, I came to the idea of doing a vector set of vintage motorcycles. My husband owns a 1975 Honda CB550 (the exact first bike in the set), and I’ve always loved the look of motorcycles from the 1970s. I thought it would be an interesting idea and it was one I hadn’t seen anyone else do before, so I thought I would give it a try. After writing down a list of the motorcycles I wanted to do, I began my sketches.
I started out by sketching 9 of the 12 motorcycles I was going to do. I like to do this because it helps me isolate and take note of each part instead of the whole picture. This makes it easier when I take my sketches into Illustrator.
After getting an idea of the overall shapes and lines I’d be working with, I took the time to look at some distinct parts of some of the motorcycles I thought would be more challenging to create. These were some of the defining parts of the motorcycles so it was important to be able to understand how each part differed from others.
Taking it to Illustrator
I mostly used the shape tools with a small amount of the pen tool for these designs. I gathered over 20 reference images for all 12 bikes and began designing using those images as a reference mainly for size and orientation. One thing I struggle pretty consistently with while trying to bring my designs from my head to illustrator is the size and proportions of things. So these images mostly helped with that issue.
Here’s a video time lapse of my 3rd icon, the Kawasaki KZ650. I edited and cut the clips to be short and give an idea of how my design process typically goes.
The Draft & Critiques
After hours and hours of creating and fine-tuning, I finally had my draft and my first 6 icons. I was ready for critiques and a break from looking at motorcycles. It was at this point that I began to think I may have overestimated my love for vintage motorcycles.
The critiques I received were, for the most part, pretty minor things like fixing tangents and watching overlap and trapped space. This definitely built my confidence and helped give me the motivation to finalize the designs.
The Final Icons & Reflection
After several more hours of creating and changing things and shifting pieces and checking for tangents and wondering if my details were too detailed or not detailed enough… I finalized my designs and put them all together in a poster format with a decorative font title. If I had more time I would definitely go in and perhaps simplify some things and spend more time on others.
Overall, I’m really happy with how these turned out. I know that I put in a lot of detail for an icon set, but I like that I have the option to print these out as a poster if I want to. I started out thinking I wouldn’t be able to pull it off in a way that I was proud of and ended up with some of my best work yet.