Adobe Icons From an Alternate Universe.

By Michael Shephard


Not to sound pretentious, but (cue extremely pretentious comment) I was into Photoshop before it was cool. I can remember a time before multiple undos, a time before layer styles. I’ve followed its evolution closely as the years have passed, enthusiastically embracing certain developments, and reluctantly accepting others (only to eventually find them indispensable).

The long-established dominance of Adobe’s product line makes it an equally prominent target for criticism. Any advanced user can rattle off a laundry list of feature requests at a moment’s notice (<cough>duplicate-layer-styles-on-a-single-layer<cough>). Among designers and artists, bitching about obscure, power-user problems is a regular pastime. Ultimately, this is a compliment - what we’re saying is “I really wish your awesome program could do this one additional thing, but it’s not like I’m going to start using something else”.

I guess there might be a point at which such scrutiny becomes unfair, but I personally wouldn’t know where to draw that line. In fact, during a recent conversation with my co-workers, it became obvious that we all shared a very specific disappointment with something that had absolutely no impact on our actual workflow: Adobe’s icon design. For most of the last decade and a half, their major products had attractive little illustrations to represent them. When CS3 was released, however, the feather, flower, and butterfly were swept away to be replaced by boxes with bold lettering.

As a designer, I understand what they were trying to do - it’s a bold, simple, and professional direction to take their branding. But as an illustrator, it made me sad to see icons that don’t reflect the creative potential I associate with the software itself. So, having experience in precisely this kind of work, I thought it might be a fun challenge to create icons that I would have liked to see.

These were mostly a fun side-project, but they’re fully functional icons as well, and we thought we’d post them for anyone who might like them. Download the ICNS files and instructions below.

Shep's Adobe Icons

Download Icons