Woah. They’re like buses. No art diary for months and then two come along at once.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Bulge app icon. It was quite a circular journey – maybe not that surprising if you’ve read Art Diary 18 but, while the icon wasn’t technically the hardest part of the project it was something I’d been concerned about simply because of the expectations, the importance and pressure to get it exactly right.

For such a small thing, it’s a real, serious and daunting challenge.

Now then. I’ve been given a list of questions about this, which is a relief!

1) What was the process like, creating the icon?

Disconcerting. As I said above it’s a daunting prospect . . designing something that will represent your product from here on in. Not something to be taken lightly.

So I had to approach it quite methodically. There’s plenty of people out there who specialise in this area and I spent time reading around articles, blogs, magazines and books trying to get a handle on the approach and the technical and marketing essentials. This was fantastic as I discovered a wealth of talent and experience that I’d not been aware of but there was so much to take in.

The next thing to do was look at pages from the App Store to see what kind of icons other people where creating and at what actually worked for each type of program. For example there are different requirements for games than for, say, production tools or widget like apps. Then there’s subdivisions of those.

Once I felt I was starting to get a handle on what was needed I started making notes and sketches. Very vague at first but working my way through a multitude of ideas until they began to coalesce into three distinct approaches that seemed to offer the best solutions for this, for future games in the series and that would be distinctive on the App Store.

Those final notes went off to the team for discussion. I felt that it was important we all had our input since we were all being represented by this image. Not design by committee but their opinions and input were important.

After a lengthy back and forth of ideas and opinions I produced a whole load of samples of the three approaches.

small_sample of icon options

A small sample of the over 100 variations produced.

These were whittled down time and again until we (eventually) got to the final thing.

the (semi) final Icon

2) You changed the icons several times before arriving at the final icon – why is that so?

Well actually I didn’t. We couldn’t come to a majority decision while looking at the icons on Basecamp so I got together the top, I think 5, and asked David to put a different one in the build every week. That way we’d get to live with each icon on our iPads for that week and see how we felt about them at the end. In the end it was unanimous.

Remember I said at the beginning that it was a circular journey .. well, the one we chose was a variation of maybe the second one I made. We could of just accepted that at the time but without travelling those other paths we’d not of been in a position to make an informed decision.

3) What do you hope to achieve from this icon?

I really want it to do its job. It’s got to stand out on the App Store from the thousands of other game app icons. It’s got to become easily recognisable and almost iconic, if you’ll forgive me. It has to represent the game both visually and conceptually. It’s got to be the start of branding for a whole series and we have to know we can create the others in the series in the same style.

4) Why did you use the colors of blue and white?

Initially because they’re the dominant colours of the Bulge. It’s not a friendly or royal blue. It’s cold, wintry and menacing. Plus it’s the first in a series and having an idea of that series helps. I could quickly map out the progression of potential colours and icongraphy (potential because in truth we only know one other in the series for definite though there’re many being discussed). Put them all side by side on your iPad and they’re look like a proper set.

5) Any additional comments?

I chose the Konigstiger as I thought it was THE iconic vehicle of the Bulge and showed the power and force of the assault. The line represents the front line at its maximum extent which is an important part of the Bulge story. Maybe that won’t be recognisable to people straight away but it’ll eventually register and be an expected element in the symbolism. All contenders for future releases are distinct in their environment, their iconic stature and the positions of the opposing forces.

(Note: Originally Published on the Shenandoah Studio Blog)