How To Design Great Mac Icons

Back in 1973, a couple guys from Xerox thought of a great idea—to use icons for each application on the desktop. Apple too liked this idea, and developed the Mac desktop in an attempt to revolutionize the field of icon applications.

In today’s ever changing market, each and every application has its own unique icon. Apple icons look so tasty that you just want to lick them right off the screen it seems.

The development of today’s version of an icon has not only a strong metaphor, correct size, and accurate perspective, but a number of elements along with a heightened graphic design level to top it all off. Why not add to the beauty of your Desktop in a fun and creative way?

We have figured out a set of 6 Mac icons for all major Macintosh applications:

Ramotion - Free custom Mac icons

We decided to design a few icons for the major Mac apps like Safari, Address Book, Preview, System Preferences, Archive and Trash. As we usually do, we started out our design with pencil sketches; each icon had a few sketches before we would decide on a winner.

For example, the Safari icon we have chosen is the one with the African safari hat:

Ramotion - Safari icon scetch Preview

When we finally decided on what the metaphors were going to be, we started to render icons in Photoshop. Then, we created the main shapes and continued to work out the details:

Ramotion - Safari Hat icon Development

We always use references in our work which helps us understand how to create realistic glass, what textures should look like and how lighting will cover the object. In reality, there are very similar traits between icon design and painting in real life. Essentially, we amplify and exaggerate the effects so that the user can recognize what we want to say.

“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”
Steve Jobs.

Apple’s philosophy is aimed at simplicity, usability and beauty. Each Mac icon will meet Apple’s Guidelines and follow a general philosophy embedded by Steve Jobs.

Ramotion - Mac icons

Icon design has always been very exciting, however it’s a big responsibility. Icons are not only a beautiful picture, it demonstrates the prestige and face of the app. Icon design is extremely important and sometimes it can play a crucial role in the competitive AppStore market. The first impression people make about an app is by its icon and the fact that your application should stand out from the masses and become memorable.

You can easily download the icons from this article here: Custom Mac Icons

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  • Join the discussion

    • March 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I just love their work!

    • February 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      I Wanna Lick em! :P

    • February 7, 2012 at 4:51 am

      Thanks for showing the wire-frame and design process of your icons, I really like the way that you showed the stages that you implemented and the end result of the icon looks amazing and really professional, would you be able to show a step by step guide of how your made the icons?

    • February 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you for showing the design process, I always like to see how an idea develops. I agree with your point that icon design is very important. It’s like a well designed product pack in a super market. Even if you don’t know the product and you don’t need it, you take it in your hands and want to see it. Same story with icons. I saw a nice icon in the AppStore, I liked it and checked the app. And I strongly believe in http://www.novatask.biz/?p=59

    • February 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      It’s always interesting to see the process of creating a design, whichever type of design it may be. There are a lot (too many!) apps that don’t utilize the strength and possibilities that good icons have to offer, so for anyone who loves pretty (and usefull) icons these kind of icons make my desktop look all pretty ;)

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