1. Should I try to design and illustrate my app myself
1/24/2013 6:36:59 PM
Should I try to design and illustrate my app myself
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App Developer Magazine

Should I try to design and illustrate my app myself



Richard Harris Richard Harris in Programming Thursday, January 24, 2013
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As app developers we all suffer from "multi-hat syndrome". We wear the designer hat, the developer hat, the troubleshooting hat, and on and on.. With all things being equal it's no doubt that overall, design and illustration takes the bulk of time when developing apps. 


Even if you are just developing utility apps that aren't graphically intense like games, it can take hours and hours slaving away on Photoshop or Gimp type programs to get "just the right look" for your app. I've spent days myself on icon design, yes - I said days. I'm selective about what I think people will be drawn to, and you should be too.


This is not an article about app design. This is a reality check for app developers that can't proficiently create designs or artwork for their apps in a given amount of time, or before driving themselves mad! It's easy to get stuck in the quagmire of the design process, so when is it time for the programmer in you to hang up the design hat and either 1) Find other artwork that will work for your app, or 2) get a professional to give you that tailored look?


I think any approach to app design needs to be looked at from two separate angles.

First it's UI design, which is how the app will flow, function, and work. How do screens come and go, what pops up when you access menu items, when do things fade away, how do you game screens interact with each other, what will characters look like,  and those types of things. Most developers have this already worked out in their heads either before they start coding, or during the process, and the actual artwork will come later.


The other more challenging aspect of design,  is actually laying down the illustration for game screens, buttons, splash screens, menu items, and other such artwork needed to give your app appeal. This is where things can get hairy fast because realizing that everything needs to have a universal look, and have common theme can cause you headaches if you aren't a creative person.


Your Options

There are 3 basic options you (as a developer) get to pick from for your artwork.


OPTION 1 - Create the artwork yourself

Creating the artwork yourself will require expert knowledge with using graphic products such as Photoshop. Be warned though that even if you're savvy to the inner workings of such programs you still have to be creative enough to make something from scratch. Not many developers fall into this category because they lack the creative artistry needed, and likewise most artists do not fall into the category of programming because they lack the technical ability to write code. Remember to know what you are good at, and do THAT.  :)


OPTION 2 - Buy it

Find artwork that will work for your app, and purchase it from places like shutterstock.com and make it work by editing it into the look you want. Sometimes even, the purchased images can be used just as they are. Be careful with this approach because it's prone to copyright laws. Even with websites that offer paid downloads there are still distribution rules that you need to follow. So check the terms and conditions on any image that you purchase.


OPTION 3 - Hire an illustrator

Hiring someone to do your illustration and artwork can be one of the best decisions you'll ever met. If you've never done this you will realize fairly quickly as an app developer that you are outgunned when it comes to actual illustration. It's been said that people that really know what they're doing, hire other people that really know what they're doing to help them in their endeavors.

This option will come at a price though because illustrators are usually expensive – if you find a reputable one with a good portfolio. You can also comb the web for freelance illustrators looking for work and sometimes get illustrations, artwork, and overall design done fairly inexpensively.


In summary just remember that even though you can wear all hats it doesn't mean you have to. There is no wrong or right way to approach this, as much as there is being able to discern if your ability to do all things is good enough to make a successful app when you are finished.







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