28 Aug
   Filed Under: Icon Design, Personal Work   

Following up on the hugely popular icon set, the successor of the War on Bad Design icon pack is quickly advancing. As it will be released hand-in-hand with the biggest release on Icon Designer so far, I anticipate the reception will be quite good. Are you looking forward to it? Let me show you what’s in store for you; not just folders with shrubs and trees and sheen, but four-legged assault droids and hypermodern covert-ops hardware!

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There’s a whole new touch of magic realism to the latest sets. I am, as always, looking forward to suggestions for the next sets, and your input. I’ll see you all again in September with the new release!

21 Aug
   Filed Under: Personal   

Wow, what a blast. The last four days could only be described as my second Lowlands that left me completely in awe. Large acts on this festival included Mika, Gabriel Rios, Basement Jaxx, Chris Clark, the Editors, the Kaiser Chiefs and Tool. And to Tool I went.

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My head should be about at the horizon of human bodies at the left. My girlfriend, quite a bit less large as I am, is hidden by all the people. As it might convey, it was a nuthouse of people pushing, throwing beer, hitting me and more of such annoying things, but that utter and complete torture of the body was well worth massaging the soul with the purely amazing show and music.

But Lowlands isn’t entirely about the music (although I was swinging at acts like Orishas, Clark, Air Traffic and Ojos de Brujo), it’s about the atmosphere, food, and people. I really enjoyed it from setting up the tent to driving home at 5 AM. So much for my vacation, back to the daily icon life.

Noble has been selling great, and I found myself engrossed in email when I came back. I will, given my degree of exhaustion, keep it at this limited price today, but I will set a new base price tomorrow; €50,-. I think a price cut can be justified, and I won’t hear anyone complaining about that, I think. To all people who got the set; I will be sending your package out today.

I’ll make some new refreshing posts soon to show my progress in the days that I am picking up work again and I want to thank everyone for the kind input and messages I got while I was away.

15 Aug

I’ll be out starting tomorrow and you can get Noble with 70% discount starting now. Grab it at the Icon Store if you need some icons. Do note that I won’t be able to email out the icon sets and licenses until I am back, but I’ll send them as soon as I get home.

Now for something to keep you sweet all the days that I am away; a little new preview of the folderset. Unorthodox nature motives! Check out the preliminary unpolished Aqua, Anodized and Wood variants;

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Input very welcome! Now, I’ll see you all again August 20th – I’ll be sure to enjoy myself with the music, atmosphere and people.

14 Aug
   Filed Under: Personal   

I wanted to announce a few other things. First of all, I will celebrate a whopping three days of vacation at Lowlands 2007, a musical festival that is all about atmosphere. You there? Spot me and get a free drink (it’s the guy in the Cocoia t-shirt, duh).

More importantly for all blog readers; as I have announced yet another War on Bad Design icon set it makes all the more sense to do some price-slashing! In the days that I’m out (starting thursday, August 16th and ending monday, August 20th), Noble, my stock icon set, will be discounted to a mere 30 euro’s. Be snappy and get it while it’s hot (and practically free – had I mentioned to you you get addon packs for free and a lifetime of free use?). And who knows, if sales are going well, I might stick with the price.

12 Aug
   Filed Under: Design, Icon Design   

From the experience I have had with clients and input I had on the blog, I get the feeling people are starting to get frustrated with the notion that globes equal the internet. A while back I was chatting with someone in the late hours and he pointed out that icons in general are taking a turn for more conceptual graphics, deviating from the ‘norm’ – that is, the pre-established metaphorical conventions like globes representing internet, documents with a pen representing document-based applications, or a metallic rounded rectangle with a screen on it for single-window applications. There are a lot of exceptions to the conventions; some icons, as someone pointed out in the comments of my article on designing the Flow icon, just jump out of the convention without clashing with the aesthetics of the OS.

These are three examples of sound icons that have everything to do with the internet and, praise the heavens, feature no globe. If Craig Hockenberry’s article is anywhere near complete, the Icon Factory hasn’t even considered icon designs with globes for Coda (rather, a forklift, which I thought was a very nice concept). The Safari icon, as an additional example, has what you could consider a map of sorts reminiscent of a globe but I can’t say the strong metaphor in the icon is a globe. The point that I am getting here is that a globe is a visual convention for anything having to do with either network or internet (which, themselves, are closely semantically tied). Conventions have the advantage of being good for end-users; we once decided on making the Delete symbol in toolbars resemble a “No Smoking” sign without the cigarette in the interface, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but these days, people expect it to be there – that, or you have to use another convention like a trash bucket.

In icons, it is worth separating the toolbar and application icons for obvious reasons. In the light of this article, they are distinctly different as well; application icons tend to benefit of innovation rather than convention, using either adaptations of conventions or none at all, whereas toolbar icons often strive to conform to all conventions, but still having an own style; be it in colors or slight stylistic adjustments – one could compare them to pictograms, being purely symbolic for functions. This increase of visual innovation in application icons has been quite steady and lately, even more unique icons have followed one another in the fight for your attention and curiosity. As we see this trend increasing, and more applications geared towards the same purpose come out for the Mac, it will become a lot harder for designers to come up with clever new metaphors. It’s only logical to assume that today’s innovations could be tomorrow’s conventions. Ideas, like any resource, are limited.

Perhaps the trend we are seeing is caused by developers and developing companies in general getting the concept that you cannot sell something without marketing it. Making your product stand out from the crowd is essential in the exponentially expanding software market for the Mac. Stock icons for applications (example; toolbar icons) are sold less and less because many a developer is glad to pay for an icon designer making it as beautiful as it can be. Developers really love their products, and most importantly; they want users, as it often means money or exposure. Now, I am sure Disco hasn’t gotten so popular due to its great icon design – however, it would have been a lot less popular with a bad icon. Also, people who don’t know Disco (i.e. cavedwellers) can get the idea that it is an edgy, new and innovative application from the icon conveying those messages. Look at it this way, and you can see how icon design matters, even with the greatest marketing campaigns.

It’s true; more innovating applications re-inventing the wheel but “doing it right™” means reinvented icons. Personally, regardless of the degree of innovation in the application, in my process with clients I aim for a great multitude of ideas and push for finding new metaphors and clever connections to use in an icon. In no way, however, do I stand in the way of using conventions in an icon if the client, or even me, desires it. But I must admit, globes get me itching a bit by now when it comes to application icons. Are you as curious as I am about tomorrow’s visual conventions?

11 Aug
   Filed Under: Announcement, Icon Design   

No, it’s not gone that far that I have pushed 944 icons so far. Perhaps I have, I don’t know, but that’s beside the point. What matters is the future. The time after 9:44 UTC.

Having gotten enthusiastic responses to the Iconizement plan I set forward in a few posts, I have been able to get ‘sponsoring’ for at least two icon sets. I have a whole road ahead of me when it comes to the freeware icon sets I am producing.

Picture 12.png This is, basically, the timeline for my upcoming icon sets. The three in the ‘hot zone’ above (the Designer Icons set 2, the War on Bad Design icons set 2 and the Designer Folders) are coming up very quickly, very possibly at the same time, when the brand new version of Icon Designer will be unveiled.

But there is more, a lot more. 944, the enigmatic number, stands for 512, 256, 128, 32, and 16; the new sizes that I will be releasing my icons in. You read that right, all new icon sets will feature super-hi res icons a month before Leopard. If anyone’s even been ready for Leopard, I am.

Apart from that, not only Mac users will rejoice. Icon Designer’s new releases come in all formats; for Windows in .ico, for Mac in ICNS, and for Linux users, PNG’s for all sizes. The growing popularity of this website has shown me that there is a righteous demand for these extra formats, and as such, you are getting them!

This wouldn’t be the Cocoia Blog if you would get out of this blog post without being peppered by desire-inducing preview images. The Designer Folders set, which will contain anodized metal, standard aqua and wooden folders with the following interesting motives;

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Slight touches of reflection in the anodized steel folders (which are depicted here) are among the fine details in the new sets. The folder set is truly a showcase of new, unique ideas in folders and overflows with gimmicks and eye candy. Since there was a lot of ado going on at Macthemes over Susumu’s latest folder set release “Cats 2″ being ‘inspired’ by other sets, I set to inspire this set by cats as well. In fact, since they have always been so supportive in my life, I included a cat – he’s not so comfortable in folders, though, or so it seems.

I wanted to put a solid date on this release, and although it is highly dependent on my picky sense of perfectionism, I expect to launch Icon Designer v. 3 by the beginning of September – ideally, the last day of August. I will keep you up to date with the developments!