One of the most fun and the most frustrating parts of app design is creating mock-ups and prototypes. You have so much freedom to flex your creative muscles. The problem, however, is making sure that your mock-ups and prototypes aren’t just functional, but that they give a real feeling of what the finished product will be. They will never be quite perfect, but if you find the right app icons, you can go from a good enough, embellished wireframe to an app someone might want on their phone then and there.
We want to show you some of the best collections we’ve been able to find for these kinds of app icons. These should take your next project (and maybe even your current one) to the next level and make it so that your users can’t get over how great it looks.
Icons8 is one of the most complete repositories of app icons out there. Not only do you get a downright wonderful selection of wireframe-ready icons, but they also offer a staggering amount of color icons that match almost every style standard there is. From the iOS/iPhone ones you see in the screencap above, to color icons, Windows Metro-style, material design, Android icons for different versions, and a lot more. You can see the number of expandable categories in the above picture. Also, they’re free, which makes them even better, if you ask us.
That said, let’s look at some of the coolest app icons they have to give you a taste of what you can get from Icons8, and then you can poke around even deeper on your own.
Hand-drawn design is super hot right now, and whether that’s with fonts or icons or other kinds of design elements, people notice it when you make something that’s purposefully stylized. The Doodle collection from Icons8 is absolutely that. Whether your app needs specialized SVGs for each social network or web platform (and look at that WordPress icon up there — so cute), or standard navigation buttons or messaging smileys, Icon8’s Doodle app icon collection is one to look at.
Icon8’s Gaming icon collection should appeal to nearly every app developer out there. We all want to have the next Candy Crush or Angry Birds, but making sure we pitch the mechanics and UI the right way is imperative. Before any real assets are created, create mock-ups using some of these app icons to see what your investors and team thinks. Game assets can be really expensive, but these free app icons can get you through those initial development stages so that you can see where your game needs tweaking before you spend a lot of design time on concepts that might have to be scrapped. Plus, there’s a non-copyright-infringing kinda-Pokeball, so you have to give them props for that.
Iconfinder has a little bit of everything in their database. You can find app icons, technology icons, Apple-style icons, Android-style, color, black-and-white, outline, gradient…well, you get the picture. Each collection of app icons is licensed a little differently because of being designed by different artists, but many of them are Creative Commons, and as you can see from the image above, even labeled as Free for Commercial Use. Overall, we think you’re going to be pretty happy with anything you download from them.
Super Mono Stickers
Most monotone app icons tend to be similar to one another. If you see one wireframe with gears and shopping carts, you’ve seen a dozen. However, the Super Mono Stickers collection puts just enough oomph and pizzazz on the icons to make them stand out. Specifically by making them look like stickers. The slightly raised effect gives just enough of a 3D look that anyone checking out your mock-up will know which ones are touchable and which ones aren’t. The texture gives it away. In fact, given they’re Creative Commons 3.0 licensed, you could totally use these in your final project, and your users would think the same way. Minimalism works when done well, and these are just half a step above minimal to give your design flair without going overboard.
If you’re looking for a new market to get into, let us suggest Chinese social. Social networking is huge, and the market for mobile apps in the country just keeps growing. And growing. And growing. If you’re looking for a way to capitalize on that growth, you really couldn’t do better than the China’s Social Share app icons collection. These are clean and simple, and you can include them in your final designs. Whether you intend to go into the market with your own social or messaging app, or if you just want to make social sharing that much easier and give lots of options, consider including these app icons.
3. Sketch App Sources
We have little doubt that if you’re looking at collections of app icons that you’re already versed in Sketch. If not, though, check it out. You’ll love it. That said, Sketch App Resources is exactly what it sounds like a collection of nearly 4000 free resources that you can use in app design, prototyping, and full products that are ready to go gold. They do offer premium resources, too, so if you can’t find quite what you need in the freebies, you can check there to see what you can stumble upon. Admittedly, everything here isn’t a collection of app icons, but the ones that are are top-notch.
Interaction Gesture Kit
Even though the entire world is used to swipe gestures and interacting with smartphones, your app still (likely) needs a tutorial. Or at least an intro splash to let users know exactly what they can do with your app. These gesture icons are perfect for that. If you need them to click, there’s an icon for that. Need them to swipe up, then down? Combine a couple of these. They’re self-explanatory, using a pretty universal set of motions and interactions.
Isometric Building Blocks
Pixel art is great, and it’s popular, and it makes your app stand out. So enter the Isometric Building Blocks app icons. Well, we say icons, but they are a collection of building blocks (get it?) for you to build your own icons. Each block is a symbol that you can then use to manipulate into whatever icons your app needs. If you’re not sure where to begin with pixel art, we have you covered. And if you’re not into pixel art, that’s okay, too. The blocks are brightly colored and stylized enough that any kids’ app would be a perfect home for these little guys.
We have barely scratched the surface on what app icons each of these repositories have in collections. But we’ve pointed out some of our favorites and some of the most useful and unique ones that should pique your interest enough to make a deep dive into these sites and come up for air with a few new ideas and resources for your projects.
Where do you usually get app icons for your mock-ups and final projects?
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