What makes a decent game icon?

I don’t know! Icons are always tough. I did a post about designing the WoodChopper icon many years ago and I felt like just being able to write down everything helped me put it all together.

Developing the game has taken a while, so assets have changed, the look of the marketing graphics have changed and of course the icon has changed several times (and then some.)

I’m starting to get used to repeat failing iterating :)), so I don’t mind redoing stuff. Also looking back at a long iterative process can be pretty gratifying, because you see every step you went through to hopefully end up with a much better result than you started out with. Redoing something that I thought was ”ok” really used to bug me, but there’s undeniable value in it.

Below is technically the second icon we had (because the first was some road sign with the letters GT… I can’t find it anymore.) The car model was totally different back then, with slightly more realistic proportions and a boxier appearance. It never read well in a small size. The car always looked like a cluttery lump, both as an icon as well as an in-game 3D model.

Next up was an icon with the newer 3D model and a background composed in Blender. The car became a lot more toy-like, with bigger features and a cleaner color palette.

I kinda liked this icon because of the high FOV and colors, but it was a bit static and running into a fence in a completely barren desert didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Then there was the same model, in a more dynamic pose & up close. The background was just a cobbled together thing that I blurred out and was never happy with. I also did some quick painting over in Photoshop to hide the rough edges. The car is really low poly and was initially never meant to be shown super up-close, so most of these have required some touch-ups in 2D.

Eventually it went through some refinements. Some added details and a refined outline. A nicer color for the background was a must. This stayed in the build for a really long time.

And this is the current one, and likely the one we’re sticking with for the time being. I did a lot of color variants and tried out abstracts shapes in the background, but plain baby blue kind of ended up working the best. Also the car has something of a detail model now. It has a much bigger 1K texture and added geometry to the model itself, which really helps with not having to repaint the model for up-close images.

Lastly I’ll show this quick collage I did to help finalize the icon and settle on something. The grey one marked with an asterisk was at the time the current one. I rendered the car from a bunch of different angles, tried out some dynamic ones and some more static ones. Even at the start I was rooting for 1 and 2, and the rest of the company agreed. 7 was a goofy wild card I mostly did for fun.

Thanks for browsing through. It was a lot of fun for me to go through these.