XP-Icon or how to struggle with Blender

Me: “Oh, I really should learn to use Blender. It’s a free 3D software and I possibly can create cool stuff with it!”
Also me: opening Blender, looking at the Interface and immediately closing it again.

This happened so often! A part of me really wanted to learn it, but I also remembered my 3D classes for Autodesk Maya at university - I suffered. Besides, there was no convenient reason to learn it, as I’ll most likely never work as an 3D artist.

Now I had the chance to learn it at work. We needed a 3D icon but only had 2D artists working in our team, so I took my chances. To understand my background: I really suck at 3D. During studies, I only visited the mandatory classes for 1 year and was happy to focus on other things afterwards. For example, this was my first animation test from study (animation class 6 years ago):

Still, working on a super simple object (basically a cube) seemed to be a good chance of getting back to all the basics! 

Concept phase

But first, I created plenty of (2D-) concepts for the new icon. Starting points:

  • matching the existing coin icon.
  • but don’t look too similar to the coin icon.
  • turnable in the same way.
  • similar contrast .

Here are some of the concepts I created:

After deciding for the final shape and pattern, I did some color explorations as well. The idea was also to bring a new color into our app for the whole new category. Blue became a quick favourite and was in the end applied to the XP-icon and XP-bar.

3D Learnings


Coming from Autodesk Maya, it took me a while getting used to the new controls and shortcuts. I found out way too late, that some of the controls easily can get changed to Maya controls, so the first hours I basically used the wrong controls followed by CMD+Z followed by another try. 

Apart from that of, most things of curse have the same principle, i.e. loading the sketch into Blender, extrude faces, UV mapping etc.

Lightning & Rendering

This step might be a bit unusual. The lighting of our coin was done in Photoshop using the 3D functions - to keep it the same, I used the same setting and same angles for the rendering. Also, this way the 3D file is accessible in Photoshop for other artists in a program they know.

For me this means that I’ll experiment with the Cycle Render, as I didn’t have the chance to try it properly during this task.

Minimalist version of the icon for our help menu

For the help screen, I created a minimal 1-color/negative space version of the XP-Icon:

Using Format