When it comes to a set of icons that everyone agrees is “well designed,” your options may seem limited: flat or round icons. Flat icons is a good rule of thumb, but people tend to miss out on an exciting, new innovation: the isometric icon. Isometric icons are like a cross between flat (symbolic) and round (realistic) icons. They allow you to convey a 3D image using three equal right-angles, so you don’t have to use foreshortening.
Here are just some sets of isometric icons that are particularly well designed to give you a better idea. Many of them can be purchased as editable vector files. Some are available as stock images to give you mock-up ideas for your own icons.
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3D Isometric Icons
Isometric Map Icons
Isometric Network Icons
Isometric Computer Icons
Isometric Business Icons
Isometric Multimedia Icons
Business Isometric Icons
Advantages of an Isometric Icon
A pop-out set of web icons is one of the most distinguishing factors of your software or Web product. Often it’s the only distinguishing factor. The current trend is to go largely with a minimalist background and splash screen: you will be using a color scheme and a functional layout and little else. Beyond that, it is your icons and your content that will be making up the overall aesthetic quality of your interface.
The conventional web design wisdom will give you these rules to choosing good icons:
- The icons should be recognizable. Flat or skeumorphic (realistic), the object represented in the icon should be clear.
- The icons should be functional. Tying in with the first rule, the object you choose has to relate intuitively with the function of the icon: does it denote a push feature, or is it merely for decoration, for navigation?
- The icons should be as simple as you can manage. Be efficient with your design. Go beyond drawing stick figures, but not too heavy on the details.
Flat icons tend to excel at this. But what if you want something that’s a little more, well, three-dimensional?
The isometric icon is probably the best option for you.
Your Isometric Options
You can essentially take a good flat icon and “rotate” the image on one axis until three dimensions can be laid out on equal angles. These examples are clear examples. They work especially well for
- business icons (see Sales and Retails Isometric Icons),
- software application buttons (see Computer Isometric Icons),
- web design mock-ups (see Gadget Isometric Icons), and
- game elements design (see Farm Isometric Icons).
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Sales and Retails Isometric Icons
Farm Isometric Icons
Gadget Isometric Icons
Isometric Web Icons
Isometric Telecommunication Icons
Additional Resources for Isometric Icon Design
If you want to start designing your own isometric designs, you’ll want to sketch out your ideas first. You can download some isometric graph paper from our graph paper collections to guide your designs along the octagonal right angles.
You can also check out some Top Six Isometric Drawing Tools You Must Have.
Finally, if you don’t think the isometric icon can give you the kind of solid, pop-up effect you want, you have the option of turning to 3D icons. Use with care, however—this is graphic-heavy stuff.