creative juice / personalities

All things icon

Image credit: David Hose

If there’s anyone who knows icons like the back of their hand, it’s David Hose.

David has been designing and producing icons since 1997. His first job out of college was designing icons for Microsoft BackOffice. Since then, he’s been deeply immersed in all things icon and has played many different roles in their creation. From icon design to project management to production, David has done it all.

When he first began designing icons, they came in two sizes: 32x and 16x, and they were 16-color only. Because of the limited color palette, he had to create checkerboard patterns to provide additional color values. For example, a checkerboard pattern of red and blue would read as purple. The tools he used back then were Photoshop, Axialis, and GIF Movie Gear. There was a plugin for Photoshop that created dither patterns using the 16-color palette that helped expedite the process.

Later, in 2007, David dipped his toe into the deep end of the pool in icon project management. The contract company he was working for had a ton of projects without enough PM power to manage them all. Hayley Nichols, the founder and principal of Allovus and who also worked for the same company back then, encouraged David to try something new.

“Coming off the Microsoft Vista icon project where organization and management were key to the project’s success, Hayley suggested I give project management a try,” David said. “This started my PM adventure that lasted a couple years before I felt a longing to design again.”

Once he followed the siren call back to icon design, he had a whole host of new and fun opportunities ahead.

Some of his favorite projects include the Microsoft Emoji update.

Emoji David created using pure geometry. Each emoji is snapped to grid to insure pixel perfection when rendered at smaller sizes. Image credit: David Hose

“Emoji are so much fun, there’s an incredible variety of categories and subject matter. From sloths to donuts… there’s always a new challenge. AND, to know that the Emoji you create will be used and seen by millions of people is such a reward!”

You can read a previous blog post about the project here: Expressive Emoji.

Another favorite was a redesign of the app icons for Office. “I did love working on the Office Application Icons. It was fun taking the legacy app icons and updating them to the new visual style. It was very collaborative. We had a weekly meeting with many of the icon design teams at Microsoft to ensure consistency with the guidelines and provide feedback and suggestions,” David said.

The top row represents the legacy versions of the Office applications icons. The second row shows the refreshed monochromatic design updates. The third row shows the full color redesigned app icons. Image credit: David Hose

And speaking of redesigning legacy icons, David was instrumental in working on the latest Microsoft “monoline” icon style.

“The process for creating monoline icons was pretty straight forward,” David said. “There’s always the initial research to see if there’s a preexisting icon created. If there isn’t one, you need to research the appropriate visual metaphor, create comps, review, and test. Then you finalize and produce.”

The tools for creating monoline icons are a bit different from the tools he used to design the old BackOffice icons.

“I primarily used Illustrator and some Photoshop. When I worked on Office monoline icons, I also had to learn how to create fonts for each icon I designed. It was a very elaborate process with several tools involved,” he said.

Like most of our talented people at Allovus, David has multiple skills. He’s a great illustrator, with vector illustration being his specialty. Check out these cool Tip Illustrations he did for Microsoft Windows.

Visit David’s portfolio to see his work and to learn more about this incredibly talented and detail-oriented designer. To top it all off, he’s a genuinely nice person who truly cares about his work and his teammates.

One thought on “All things icon

  1. Pingback: The history of icons | Allovus Design

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