How To Make An App Icon

Creating an app icon for IOS and Android might seem like a complex and expensive process, but can actually be achieved very easy with as little as $5 to spend.

There are 2 major ways to do this if you are not a designer:

Outsource the Job to a Designer

finding a rock star designer at a good price is not easy, I will write a separate post about this, but for the meanwhile a good start would be to look for a designer at Elance or Odesk. Anyway once you found your designer it should not cost more than $30 for a quality icon. If this is done as part of a bigger project, the icon price will obviously go down.


Do It Yourself

This option will cost less and take longer in most cases, it is more suitable for smaller-low quality apps or games, but you’d be surprised the quality you can achieve without involving a designer.

These are the steps:

1. Ask your designer to create a few cool app icon frames with no content (one time job).  Make sure the frames are:

  • 1024×1024 pixels
  • Ask for 2 formats at least: PNG & PSD
  • Make sure the images are layered, so if the frame has a BG image, this image is in a separate layer, and so you could an a third image between the BG and the frame.
  • Make sure the BG is transparent – so you could later on add different BG colors and change the icon.

Pro Tip – frames like these can also be bought at Graphic River, i will talk about this in later in this post.

2. Just to get you started, here is an example of a frame i use, i’m giving it away to all my blog readers (I wish i had something like this when i started my business). Click here to Untitleddownload Free App Icon Frame  – Joy

This is how the frame looks like, if you open the image with any vector graphic editor you will see the golden frame is separated from the red BG image.



3. The next step would be to find the main image for your icon, you can do this by going into any vector graphics site and look for what you like. I personally recommend Graphic River, they have a lot to offer and with very reasonable prices. This is how it’s done:

  • open an account at Graphic River (free)
  • Search for the relevant term for your game or app.
  • Make sure you filter by vector images only.
  • once you find what you like make sure it is: PSD, Layered, transparent BG
  • Images are usually about 4-6 $, don’t forget it is a vector image so it can be resized to your needs.


4. Once you have your image, you will need a vector graphic editor, I use and recommend GIMP, it is free and fits my needs. Follow these steps:

  • Open your frame image (like the free app icon frame i’m giving away above)
  • Drag and drop the new image you just bought at Graphic River (as a new layer)
  • Add your text if needed.
  • Export the image JPG file in 1024×1024 pixels.


5. Once you have the icon ready, you will need to resize it for your app in multiple sizes, under no circumstances should you do it manually, it is a waste of time. Just open, drag and drop your JPG file there, add your email and you will get all the resized images within a few minutes (this is a free service).

Thats it, your are all done!! If there are any other cool tools i’ve missed, please add to the comments below so i can update this post.



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