A few days ago I posted a preview of the icon that I commissioned Parth Mohanraj to make for our Zen Grid framework and today I thought Id post a small interview with Parth so that you can learn more about this amazing designer. If you haven't already checked out his folio its well worth it. Read on for the interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm from Canada and I'm 21 years old. I'm a student at McMaster University and I'm going into 4th (senior) year this fall. Pretty much during the year student by day, and designer by night.

How long have you been designing icons for?

I've been designing icons in an out for the last 5 years, but actually only seriously gotten into designing in the last 3 years or so.

What techniques do you use?

If I design something 3D, I always start out with vector shapes, and then build up on them using layer styles and textures. It's important to get the basics of shapes and depth perception first before attempting any style or effects. Proper lighting and shadow are also extremely important, and can definitely take the icon to that next level of polish. I always manually draw in highlights and finer details (as opposed to using in inset/bevel tools), and I also manually draw the shadow for everything. To add proper lighting, using the dodge tool can also help greatly. The burn tool is excellent for shading, so I use that most of the time. Lastly I think learning the brush customization tool can help a lot as you can play around with some really cool brush effects that you wouldn't have normally thought was possible. It's all about experimentation.

What software do you use to design?

I use Photoshop CS4 99% of the time for designing. That other time I might use something like Apophysis to create some cool fractals which I can use for effects on the icons. For actually packaging the icons I use IconBuilder.

What's your design process like? Do you tend to work from paper first and then move to the computer or does it depend on the design?

I usually draw on a piece of paper first of what i'd like to design to get a rough idea and to save time. I try to add most of the details on paper and some shadows to see how it would look. Then I digitize it inside Photoshop and use vector shapes to reproduce the general shape/contours of the icon and its parts, and then I add colour, then basic effects. Once that is done I usually move on to textures, and then advanced lighting and shadows. Then just before finishing I do finer details such as highlighting and shading. Thats for one size. For really small sizes (32 pixels and down) I usually re-draw the icon from scratch so it looks really crisp.

Where do you draw your inspiration from? Who are your favourite designers?

I think the hardware that the interface/icon is being designed for says a lot about the amount of effort/detail needed to design the icon. I think the biggest inspiration comes from Apple, because you want to maintain that sleek look across your icons or interfaces to compliment the hardware in which it is going to be run on. Outside that aspect, there are ofcourse many really talented icon designers out there who are superb at what they do. A few include Mark Jardine of Tapbots, Louie Mantia, Jonas Rask, David Lanham, Sebastian de With, and Laurent Bauman to name a few.

What is your all time favourite icon and why?

I think my all time favourite icon would have to be the automator icon on OS X. I've always been a technology nut, and I love beautiful 3D icons, and I think the automator icon nails that perfectly.


Ive heard on the grapevine that Parth has been commissioned to create some fab new icons for some soon to be released Joomla extensions from some of our other friends in the Joomlasphere so stay tuned for some more amazing icons from this talented designer.

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