Learning to See Iconography

With a full time desk job and 20 hours/week of online coursework, Spending large amounts of time indoors staring at a computer screen has become the norm in my daily life, so I was pleased to see that this assignment had me getting up and going outside.

The assignment asked us to go outdoors and make note of the icons we saw in the world around us. We were then to snap pictures, sketch drawing of the icons from the pictures, and then digitally recreate the icons using an illustrating program. This seemed simple enough, so I went with a friend to a nearby shopping center and hunted for icons while we did our errands. I was pleased to see how many I had to choose from around me!

My first icon was a No Smoking decal stuck to the inside of a Nordstrom window. I chose it because it was the first icon I saw, and one with which I was immediately familiar. It was the first one I photographed, and also the first one I sketched… yikes. This is where I was reminded that sketching on paper is hard and I’m not great at straight lines or perfect circles. Once I started creating the icon in Sketch, however, it went much more quickly and looked tons nicer. I was a little taken aback by the haphazardly swooshing smoke pillars, but found they were pretty easy to recreate using the point creator for the line tool.

Next was the age-old recycle symbol. I found it on — you guessed it! — a recycle bin. This one was quite challenging to draw, oddly, but pretty easy to recreate in Sketch as I was able to copy-paste the folded arrow and do only a few tweaks to it to make it match the original image.

The parking symbol was probably the easiest one. Two circles, a Helvetica “P” (don’t think I used the correct font, but it looked close enough for me), and a little arrow. I like this sign, it looks a little more modern than the other more tried-and-true symbols I’ve shown so far.

Another tried-and-true symbol, I found this recognizable icon on a button inside of Nordstrom which the disabled can use to open the front door. This was my first foray into drawing one long line (for the body) and adding points/pulling it every which-way to create the final form. With each icon I was getting more practice with point editing, using sharp angles as well as curves. It was getting easier.

Here we have the crosswalk symbol, found on the street in the shopping center parking lot. I took this one at a bit of an angle, so I’m sure my final product is slightly skewed, but it still reads! After drawing a simple circle for the head, I make a single rectangle and then went to town on adding points and dragging them to create the body of our hairless figure. I was pleased with the aesthetic of the final outcome of this one!

Finally, the ashtray. This was plastered to a combination ashtray/trashcan, so the decal was on a curved surface, but it wasn’t hard to create the straightened version. It had the same style of swooshy/sharp smoke clouds as the first cigarette I drew, but by now I was an old pro at drawing points on lines, so it was a snap to create.

This assignment was fun — it was nice to get outdoors and pay attention to my surroundings, as well as to get to spend a little more time than usual being creative in Sketch.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.