This thread is an intent to help modders to make icons for Dow. I've made so many icons for WH-AS, Splinterfleet, Armoured Company, Deathwing that I gathered experience that I wish to share with the community.
There is a very cool tutorial called Icons ABC that is focused on technical aspects but mine is aimed at the artistic aspect so it is complementary. I strongly suggest your read this tutorial first.
Choosing icon size
Now that our PCs are fast, I suggest you create 96x96 or even 128x128 icons, for units : infantry, vehicles and buildings as when you select them, the left frame show them in large size (104x104 if I remember well) so 64x64 icons are upscaled and look bad.
Making the frame
You can use Relic's frame but it is indeed interesting to make your own to make your mod unique and fit better the mod or the race of your mod. It is nice to add details to it but don't over detail them. I made the mistake myself adding too much details in 128x128 icons and once downscaled in game in the right part of the UI they are difficult to read and identify the icon purpose. A good an quick way to make your Icon frame is to take the radar frame as a base and rescale it. I did this for the AC mod.
Adding information to the icons
I developed an iconography for WH-AS that I even improved for other mods.
I created a simple iconography that shows :
- the tier at which the icon is available at
- the icon type
- for fighting units, the type of unit the unit is the most useful
- damage type used by units and upgrades
You can think of other useful information relevant to your mod that you can add to the your icon frame. It allows to better identify the icon you want with just a glance.
Immolator with twin heavy bolter showing anti infantry icon
Immolator with twin multi melta showing anti vehicle icon
Feel free to use my iconography in your creations. You can even improve it, that would be cool.
hre are pds you can use as a start for your creations :
Using TT models to render units inside the frame is a bad idea. They are too much details and lack simplicity to look good while small. prefer using 3D models. Keep simple. Icons need to be simple else they loose their focus : quick identification. If you need 2 seconds to identify the purpose of the icon, then the icon is not good. Test it with your creations.
Choose the right zoom level for the render
Do not zoom too much on the unit else you lack the shape of it. If this is a commander you can just zoom on his head and shoulder cause they are easily recognizable but for most units a full shape or a upper half shape is preferable as you identify it better. Test different positions and see what fits the best.
Upper half zoom
Choosing the right background
The background is really important: Keep it simple. It is intended to make your renders stand out. If you have dark renders, use a light background. The colour of your background can also give information as Relic did. But you can use a colour that suits your mod well and stick with it for all icons.
You can also use dark renders and dark backgrounds but you 'll need effects to make tour renders stand out from the backgrounds. You can also use the gradient background. It gives more depth to your icons
Dark render, dark background but a glow effect make it stand out :
Gradiant background, with a orange glow
Green background and dagger icon to illustrate an assassin unit :
You can use a Shadow, preferably without distance and set on 100%. Don't make it to wide though.
You can use Outer Glow as well.
Specially for powers, you can rely on effects to illustrate them.
Glow, colour overlay, added pixel art drawings :