Anatomy of an icon

by on Aug.20, 2006, under new media

I wanted to do some original graphics for the site, so rather than doing what I usually do when I’m forced to do some quick graphics work (use GIMP on Ubuntu, my fav), I decided to try out Photoshop again. Years past at university, I used to design websites for weekend money. Back then, my PS skills were quite wretched. That is no less true today. 🙂

I imagined something reminiscent of the word “covert”, so obviously I had to do a spy of sorts. Not quite a character, just a nod towards the world of espionage. What better than a trenchcoated character? Yet, I had absolutely no clue how to draw something original in Photoshop. So I sort of cheated. I have no idea if this is what the gurus do. Unfortunately the ones that I know are never on IM, and generally unavailable for a quick, “how you doin?” much less a “how the h#ll do I do this??!11”. Anyhow, read on for the trials and tribulations of my voyage…

I didn’t have a whole lot of time, and I needed a good reference image to work from. Where else to go but Google?

Google searches on “trenchcoat”, “fedora”, “noir” and other terms, led me to all sorts of adverts for Camel cigarettes, Bond, some fraudster named Abramoff, and then finally gold.

David Beckham?


The pose was perfect for what I was thinking. Go ahead and laugh now. 🙂


I quickly cropped his body, since I didn’t want my girlfriend to think I was staring at Beckham’s abs. 🙂

Then, I traced the outlines of the face. The hat was what I was most interested in. Exactly the pose that I wanted for it.

Trace complete, and then I nuked Beckham (thankfully).

A suitably manly visage for my spy, born at last!

next_step.jpg angles.jpg

Made some adjustments including exaggerating the pose a bit, then angularizing it for a slight “8-bit” feel.

Then a reverse, for that evil cloak and dagger look. Finally I chose the colour somewhere near the site’s theme, and I called it done!
reverse.jpg covertccorner.jpg

Total elapsed time, 1 hour. There are probably a zillion better and quicker ways to do this. I’d appreciate hearing from you if you have any suggestions or shortcuts.

Continuing on, all of my attempts to create a “blog button” and favicon for the site met with gross failure.

iconify.jpg blogbutton.jpg gocovert_chicklet.jpg

Eek! 15 pixel height is simply not enough to work with!

Then it was my friend Uno, to the rescue. Knowing more photoshop than I obviously do, he added the spy to my “GO covert” image you see to your right. Thanks Uno! The final product is by no measure perfect, but certainly good enough for me.

Technorati tags :, ,

2 Comments for this entry

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!