At a certain time in any new applications life there comes a point when it needs to find a visual identity for itself, much in the same way that most people dress in a certain way consciously (or subconsciously) to portray who they feel they are. So it is with CaseDetective for FogBugz.
I’ve had a few ideas for the icon of course, things like a deerstalker hat with a spy glass over a bug or something, or perhaps a beaten up old leather suit case with a spy glass or deerstalker or P.I’s badge next it (Case – Detective, get it?), maybe the case could have stickers on which look like bugs, letters (mail = enquiries) or light bulbs etc. But as you can see, they were all pretty lame!
So, I admit:
I am not a graphic designer, never have been, never will be.
I am also not an artist, never have been, never will be.
But I do need a well designed and executed icon for CaseDetective.
But how do you find the right person to design your application icon?
A little way into my development of CaseDetective I needed some icons for the toolbar, but as this is a cross-platform application I did not want anything too Windows like or too OS X like (the two platforms I’m initially targeting). So after seeing a couple of posts in the ASP forums and the RealBasic NUG mailing list that mentioned they were good I swung by buyicons.com to have a look. They had just the right style for my application, fairly OS X like but not so much that Windows users should get upset, so I bought both icon box sets.
When I bought those icons for my toolbar Jordan Langille at buyicons sent them off to me in a friendly email, and casually mentioned that he’d do me a deal on designing an application icon if I needed one. I didn’t think too much of that at the time, but I had of course already looked at his portfolio and very much liked what I saw, so filed that offer off for later consideration. I wasn’t ready to buy an application icon at the time, in fact it’s a good job I didn’t because it wasn’t too long until I changed the name from the original guiBUGZ to CaseDetective, but that’s a whole other story.
So, when it came time to get an application icon designed, I had a real good look around at the icons out there, and the portfolios of some designers, and tried to get a feel for how much this was going to cost too. Custom icon design doesn’t seem to come cheap, but there’s a lot of variation in the quality out there.
I considdered places like designoutpost.com where you get lots of ideas for very little money, and with luck will get some thunderbolt of an idea that hits the spot. But the application icon section seems a bit bare to me, and quite frankly I didn’t feel the quality was up to par. I wanted something with that Mac “photorealistic” feel to it, something that would also scale well and not be too out of place on Windows. This icon is going to be very prominent on my website, so has to look great at larger than 32×32 pixels, 128×128 would be ideal.
After returning to his site and having another look at his portfolio, I dug out the email I received from Jordan at buyicons.com and replied to see what kind of deal he was prepared to offer. I’ve never had anything custom designed for me before, and to be honest I was expecting quite a high fee to be quoted, and wasn’t sure whether this was going to be one of those “by the hour” jobs which could spiral out of my budget. I had no idea how to go about commissioning a custom designed icon.
When I got Jordan’s response, I was knocked for six, considering the quality of his work that I’ve seen I wasn’t expecting such a low price, and he knocked off a bit more because I’d bought his two icon sets too! (Hey Jordan, if you’re reading this, I’m just bigging you up alright? So don’t even think about charging me more just because I said you’re cheap! )
So I casually responded with a nonchalant email saying his fee would be fine. We swapped a couple of more emails where I told him what CaseDetective is all about but purposely did not mention any of the ideas I’d had already for the icon, I wanted to see what he’d come up with (plus I didn’t want to be laughed at. Oops, too late now!).
In part two I’ll reveal the sketched idea Jordan sent me and what I think of it.