Art Director Justin Schut on Icon Design

Art Director Justin Schut on Icon Design

One of the first challenges we tackled with the mobile version of Keep Craft was the creation of art assets for the various buildings, resources and other elements. While Keep Craft’s browser version relies on a very clean minimalist look with no icons, we knew that for the game to succeed on mobile we would have to create an appealing art style for it.

For this week’s development blog we’ll be hearing from our art director, Justin Schut, about some of the design philosophies he used to create the game’s icons and art style.

: The initial goal in defining a style was to create simple language that would allow for rapid creation and for new content to be easily added. It was also important that no icons be too era-specific since the game’s technology is constantly advancing. For example, the Lumbermill is the first building you unlock in the game, but it will never be overwritten and it must fit alongside buildings of more advanced technologies. Things like saws, tools, and structure style would naturally change as a culture advances.  Therefore we removed those details and only preserved the basic, necessary elements to communicate its function: a pile of logs and a simple overhead structure in a forest setting.


Medieval faux-perspective map

In finding an art style, we knew right away we wanted something that looked hand-crafted.  I like the idea that each player is crafting their own unique world, and a painterly interface is reminiscent of period-specific art pieces like a town map or family tree.

I thought the faux-perspective that was used in early medieval maps would work great with our building icons.  It’s a blend of flat and 2D perspective, and by mimicking it, it harkens back to the transition every culture has gone through after its iconographic style of art began to appear more representational.  The artists from these periods were often restricted by the limited number of pigments available to them, so it also made sense for us to adopt a limited color palette.  We did not want the art to be specific to medieval art, however, so we left out many of the techniques and specific design motifs that would bind it to this era.

Take a look below at our final icons for the Buildings and Facilities tabs:


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