Town icons

In this short step-by-step tutorial you’ll learn how to draw a Town Icon from start to finish, including the line art, colouring and shading.

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Step 1: Start with a basic sketch

Start out with a rough idea of what you want to show on the icon. These are usually small, so don’t draw too much detail. Usually, just the roofs, chimneys and doors are enough to create an interesting looking icon.

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Step 2: Refine the sketch

Now that you sketches out your idea it’s time to refine that sketch. This is a good time to see how detailed the icon needs to be. For this tutorial I’ve drawn the icon fairly big, but when you’re drawing on a map it’s likely much smaller.

Don’t draw details what you won’t be able to see!

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Step 3: Draw the line art

With your refined sketch done it is now time to start drawing the line art for the icon. Like before: don’t draw details so tiny that you won’t be able to see them later. It may make the icon look cluttered and hard to read, and it’s also a waste of the hard work you put into it.

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Step 4: Flat colors

Time to get started with adding color. The first thing that we need to do is settle on a color for the icon. Which colors work best depends a lot on what other colors you use in your map, so play around and see what looks best! For this icon I settled on a grey (7f7c63), brown (735e49) and off-white (eae4cf).

Sometimes the black of the line art can look too stark on your map. In this case you may want to change the color of the line art. Take a very dark shade of the original colors and apply it to the line art.

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Step 5: Shadows

Now let’s add shadows to the icon. I have my light source in the top left corner, so the right side of the icon will be covered in shadow and well as the areas under the overhanging pieces of the structure. Also think of how the structure might cast a shadow on other buildings. I use a darker shade of the used colors to draw the shadows on the icon.

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Step 6: Highlights

In this step we’ll add the highlights. We’ll do this the same way that we did with the shadows, except we’ll be drawing with a lighter shade of the colors. Make sure the highlights are on the opposite sides of the shadows. I usually draw them as thin lines on the surfaces which catch the light.