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New Item Icons!

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RiotRadioblur

UI Artist

08-05-2013

Hey there!

I’m sure you’ve noticed some of the items have had their art updated and replaced. As the aesthetic of League becomes more cohesive and solidifies in quality, we’re working hard to update all of our old art. In particular, the Visual Design team is working hard to innovate and improve on our user interface and visual identity. We have already been raising the icon quality bar on our champions and summoner icons, and it’s about time items got some love. Because these icons are so important to our players, I thought I’d walk through some of the decision-making process involved in developing the new aesthetic.

The primary goal of the reworks was to improve clarity, and then to build thematic connections between the item visuals and the other aspects of their design. Familiarity was a big concern as we began working on these—how far can we push the designs until they become too hard to adapt to?—but a few icons had very little in their visuals that could be held onto. When we were looking into which icons to re-design first, we wanted to seek out the ones that presented some of the biggest challenges to redesign, the ones whose themes seemed seriously out of line with their visuals, or whose current art didn’t localize well. From there, we wanted to find ways to build them into the rest of our game’s world in a way that felt consistent and logical.

Let’s look at how each one was chosen and how we developed them:

Abyssal Scepter

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750047&stc=1&d=1375731272)

Abyssal’s older art was a bone on a stick. It was pretty lacking in terms of design, and nobody really felt that the whole “abyss” theme was captured by it. The first explorations toyed with keeping the skull, but it just wasn’t exciting enough. Somebody on the team suggested pushing more in the direction of something extremely warped, exaggerated, and unusual, but retaining the feeling that this was the skull of some terrifying creature. The more we pushed, the more we realized a hybridization of the two would provide the most unsettling result. A vaguely human skull at the end of a staff made out of its own spinal column, wrapped in worn strips of leather. The bone went from bleached white to dark, decayed brown, which also brought out the silhouette and distanced the design even further from appearing too human. The final touch came from one of our splash artists, Alex Flores, who really pushed the S shape in the staff to where it is now. In the end, we had this:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750048&stc=1&d=1375731294)

Catalyst the Protector

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750049&stc=1&d=1375731302)

Catalyst’s upgrade had a few very specific goals going in. The first was to change the rune to match the kind of shape language we would see in our game today. The shape we used was designed by one of our other Visual Designers, Zach Roberson, and it definitely feels like it belongs with the world we’re building. The second consideration we had was to make it purple to match the idea of blue and red crystals combining into one new item. The result was something with a really unique color palette and silhouette, brought up to the quality we want to see out of every new icon:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750050&stc=1&d=1375731312)

Deathfire Grasp

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750051&stc=1&d=1375731319)

More than any other icon so far, Deathfire Grasp’s redesign pushed the limits of what we could do with changes. The original icon felt like such a missed opportunity, and had too much overlap with Abyssal Scepter’s visuals. We wanted to separate the two, and make each feel more unique. And then there was this great theme, right there in the name “Death Fire Grasp.” It sort of stuck out in our earliest discussions as the obvious thematic tie, but being obvious isn’t always the best way to design. So we tried a few iterations and different ideas, but in the end we kept coming back to a staff with some sort of hand or claw shape on the end of it holding a spirit flame. Once we decided where we were taking it, we felt like the next step was to bring it into the world. Where would you find a staff holding a captured soul? The Shadow Isles. Looking at champs like Hecarim and Thresh, we tried to give the staff some of the same flair, all the way down to the color pallette, blue-green effects and lighting, with warm iron for the metals. The new design was a huge departure from the original, and we had a lot of internal discussions about whether we were pushing too far. In the end we agreed the added clarity and visual theming made the icon more distinct and easier to associate with its thematic. And here we have all of that process in its final form:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750052&stc=1&d=1375731327)

Glacial Shroud

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750054&stc=1&d=1375731339)

Glacial shroud also really missed its thematic. We started looking at this around the time we were developing the Freljord event, and with all this lovely new art for our wintery domain, it made sense to make Glacial Shroud more “glacial.” The first step was to remove the lion. After abstracting the details of the face, we saw some shapes that reminded us of the knot shapes on Howling Abyss, so we adjusted them all to fit in. The blue ring matched the True Ice of Freljord, so we inlaid a ring of it onto the medallion. Next was taking the gold and toning it down to the kind of muted color palettes we see on Trundle, Sejuani, and the other Freljord champs. Finally we took those wispy shapes and hinted at a frost-magic fabric the pendant holds together as a brooch, giving us a very literal shroud to play with. The new icon went from being something a bit out of place, to something that could really fit in to our world:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750055&stc=1&d=1375731352)

Haunting Guise

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750056&stc=1&d=1375731359)

For Haunting Guise we set out to actually make something a bit spooky. A clown face was a specific nightmare, but we wanted something that would feel appropriately haunting to anybody. The shape of the mask we ended up with had a lifeless, cold feel. The red and white hinted at something Ionian, and the green magic matched some of what we were seeing out of champs like Karma and Master Yi. We drew on lots of our Ionian champs for reference, but the biggest help on this icon came from the Visual Development department, where they really helped us nail down that Ionian style. The result:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750057&stc=1&d=1375731366)

Hextech Revolver

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750058&stc=1&d=1375731377)

Hextech isn’t extremely well-defined to our players right now, but there’s plenty in the various champions to suggest at what it could be. Again, Visual Development played a big role in helping us achieve a look the felt appropriately “hextech,” and helped steer the direction to something more specifically Piltovian, which felt like a natural fit for the item’s origins. The gun replicates a lot of the aesthetics seen in Jayce, Vi, and Graves, where magic and technology play off one another to form unique implements with an unusual design principal. The gun doesn’t function without the magic, and the magic is useless without the gun to harness it. It’s a symbiotic relationship:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750059&stc=1&d=1375731393)

Thornmail

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750060&stc=1&d=1375731401)

Right out the gate, Thornmail felt like Noxus. Bearhug your enemies with spiked mail? Totally Noxus. Again Visual Development helped us find that perfect mix of utilitarian design and aggressive, militaristic aesthetics that makes it fit so well into our world. Darius, Draven, and other Noxian champs heavily influenced the design, right down to the spiked shoulders, dark grey metals, and the red background (shying away from the pinker hue we were seeing before). The process on Thornmail really seemed to flow as soon as we knew it was Noxian, and I think the result really shows for it:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750061&stc=1&d=1375731409)

Vampiric Scepter

Old Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750062&stc=1&d=1375731420)

Vampiric Scepter is another Noxian artifact, this time drawing from Vlad’s aesthetics to really drive home the vampire aspect inherent to the item. It took a few tries to get here—some of the early iterations involved a bat with scythe even—but the result is something a lot more mature than the older, goofier icon. We managed to preserve and abstract the face and scythe shapes, and give the metal a really unique gold treatment to match the rendering we see in Vlad’s splash. The final touch was making the magic feel like is was reaching out and sucking in energy from the space around it, drawing on the strength of others. The final icon is a lot more menacing than before:

New Icon (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=750063&stc=1&d=1375731428)

And that’s them! The Visual Designers here at Riot worked really hard to bring out the best in these icons, and I think it shows. Lots of thought, time, and energy were poured into these to make them the best icons we can make, and all the other teams who dog-piled them really helped us go that extra mile. A huge shout out to everybody involved!

I’ll be in this thread to address any comments or questions, so if you have anything to say just let me know and I’ll do my best to respond. It’s great to have these out, and we hope you all enjoy!

Cheers!


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KaotikOnslaught

Senior Member

08-05-2013

Thanks, now where's lucian


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Poison Trail

Member

08-05-2013

nice!


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LesLlamas

Senior Member

08-05-2013

Chinese overlords op


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SwipeZ

Senior Member

08-05-2013

i still liked the cartoony ones more =/

edit: can we have an option for the old icons


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Malizio

Senior Member

08-05-2013

Some of those didn't need changing, like scepter, thronmail, revolver and catalyst, they look like cheap toys now. Deathfire, Glacial and Haunting are alright I guess.

Anyway, wheres Lucian?


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Electrøn

Senior Member

08-05-2013

R.I.P Skulls.


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Renaito Yuujou

Senior Member

08-05-2013

I don't have a problem with the new icons at all, though I do think they may not mesh with the art style of the rest of the items now.

Only real complaint I have about item icons is Nashor's Tooth and Stinger looking too similar.


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Oldyoung

Senior Member

08-05-2013

i kinda like how deathfires grasp icon actually makes sense now.

im also kinda disappointed how deathfires grasp icon actually makes sense now.


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Igasho

Senior Member

08-05-2013

I still think the new Abyssal Scepter looks like a woman's "toy" if you know what I mean, especially in game where the icons are smaller.