Graziani: Creating Symbols And Icons For Genre Fiction

By Michela Graziani, visual designer and digital product designer with over 14 years multi-disciplinary design experience in digital creativity. She is based in Rome, Italy.

We live in a world of symbols and iconography. Indeed, icons are the staples that keep modern society together. As you drive down a residential street, you know instinctively that a big red octagon means “stop” long before you’re close enough to read it. As you stroll along the sidewalk, you understand what the little green and red men on the crossing signal mean before taking that first step into the road.

But symbols mean more than just road signs. They’re seen in history, mythology, and most prominently today, in modern fiction. My work and research into symbols and icons for the past several years has also revealed a simple fact: there is no one place to find simple and effective icons representing fictional characters and symbols.

I’ve spent the past several years extensively working on a compendium of more than 4,500 icons that run the gamut of different fiction genres, from sci-fi, fantasy, horror and mystery. I’ve dubbed this new project Ikonthology, the world’s first visual fictional compendium.

Creating a Library of Fiction Iconography

With all the various genres and sub-genres available, it’s hard to find any one place to gather inspiration. After years of work into the icon collection and design industry, it became apparent how difficult it was to find an extensive and comprehensive source of relevant fictional visual content that is clearly categorized with references and descriptions.

What image makes you think “steampunk?” What about high-tech space travel, or a world of fish-like people living underwater, or a hard-boiled detective setting? There is so much media out there right now, with so many different plays on both genres and tropes. How can anyone possibly gather art for all of that?

In this case, quantity does not have to sacrifice quality. Modern genre fiction is the mythology of the modern age, and just like the ancient symbols found in cultures across the world, each of Ikonology’s images are visually distinct and immediately identifiable. It’s why symbols work on a near-instinctual level. Even those who say they don’t get involved in any pop culture can look at a symbol of a horned horse and think “Pegasus.”

Making Designers’ Lives Easier

There has long been a need to bring existing genre images together with a consistency in style and file format. Taking cues from popular fictional works, these icons are designed with a modern aesthetic. Each is available in four variations: light, bold, solid, and duotone. Furthermore, the compendium is organized by genre, and each icon has a description to help define the symbol within its wider archetype.

Their main advantage is standardization. Ikonthology images are built using a solid grid system, allowing them to maintain consistency while also being legible and identifiable at multiple pixel sizes. The icons are designed with ease of use in mind. Each is compatible with the most widely used design programs, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Figma, ZBrush, Unity, and Map creation tools. Each image is available in SVG, PDF, PNG, and JPG file formats.

Who is Ikonthology For?

My experience within the graphic design space has shown me just how useful a full compendium like this will be to visual designers, game designers, visual artists, authors, and storytellers of all stripes. Whether you’re a graphic designer involved in projects about fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, and horror, a web designer in need of front-end solutions, or if you’re a game designer looking for inspiration for your next project, Ikonthology can push your creative projects to the next level.

Support this Project on Kickstarter

Your support is crucial to help make Ikonthology a reality. While the 4,500+ icons have already been developed, we need help to establish the back-end support structure for the online icon compendium. If you think this project could be a valuable resource for your network or audience, please share this on your social media or professional network so we can make Ikonthology a reality. You can find out more and submit a pledge here.