Wow, That’s So Retro! | Vector Paths

For my icon set, I decided to showcase 90s fashion through clothing, footwear, and technology. I specifically created three icons of jackets, bottoms, shoes, and tech, for a total of 12 icons. I decided to use a variety of colors, and have my icons be loosely related but still obviously a set. I did this by using similar shading/highlight styles, but none of the objects truly fit together. I think this adds variety and uniqueness to each icon, but still creates a sense of unity. 

I began my design process with sketching. I used this phase to figure out what objects I wanted to include in my set and to see how simple I could make my designs with the objects still being recognizable. I didn’t really use any reference pictures for my sketches, I wanted to draw what I had already perceived the clothes to look like. This way, I would be able to create a concept of an object and not an exact replica. The sketching process was very helpful because I was able to understand what objects worked will together, what objects were too complicated for the set, and how I could draw them. 

For my first draft, I completed 6 of the 12 icons. This process was definitely interesting. I found it really hard to take the concepts I had on paper and convert them into vector graphics. I had also not considered the stylistic approach I wanted to take. I had done a little research and had seen an icon set that had thick black strokes that I liked, so I gave that a try. After completing my draft, I knew I wanted to get rid of the stroke because it felt like an easy way out, but I didn’t know what else to do. To make up for what I felt was a predictable design, I tried throwing a shadow on the objects, but it didn’t make much of a difference. 

During my critique I was told to drop the strokes and drop shadows, and to really do proper shading to convey the shapes. Although I agreed with my critique I had no idea how I wanted to approach it. So I tried out a few different styles and finally found one I liked. 

I decided to do a rough, hand drawn shadow and highlight for each object to make them each more unique. I felt that a solid stroke for shading wasn’t interesting enough for the set and I wanted these objects to look as realistic as possible without making them too detailed. As you can see, each shadow or highlight is rough and uneven, but no two shadows are the same through the object. I purposefully made each one unique. I decided to do my shading like this to create a more casual look because I don’t think that a lot of people look back at the 90s and think it was an age of professionalism. 

To go along with the shading, each object has a light source that comes from the top right corner of the icon. Due to the fact that the style of the set was really my only rule, I needed to create more consistency within the icons. This helped with the development of my icons a lot, and I think made them look more interesting because the objects are so different, it doesn’t look repetitive. 

Overall, I am incredible proud of my icons. I think that they are engaging, professional, and fun. I don’t think my 90s theme stands out immediately to the viewer, but I like that about them. I do think there are some objects, however, that make it very obvious like the Gameboy and windbreaker, so it balances out. 

Hannah Williams

Hannah Williams

Dog lover, Pacific Northwesterner, and Sun Chips enthusiast
Hannah Williams

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