Icons are to infographics, like apples are to cider. One always requires the other.
But proper icon usage doesn’t always come naturally for everyone. When used well, icons can make the information on your infographics truly pop, but when used poorly, your infographics will just look sloppy and unprofessional.
In this article, I’m going to cover eight really simple icon hacks that anyone will find useful.
Using Icons in Infographics
To make great use of icons in your infographics, the following eight methods will prove to be incredibly useful.
- Add a circle background
- Offset backgrounds
- Use a square background
- Choose contrasting colors
- Play with oversized icons
- Varied background shapes
- Try double icons
- Use half backgrounds
You really don’t need to be a design to create infographics that people love.
1. Add a Circle Background
Sometimes, an icon on its own can be underwhelming when placed in your infographic. Have you ever dragged one into your canvas and just thought to yourself that something seemed off?
By adding a circle background to your icons, you can make the central image pop. This is because you are creating some negative space around your icon of choice, and pulling in the focus.
Here are some possible ways you can use a circle background to add focus to an icon.
2. Offset Backgrounds
An offset background is when you use a shape in the background of your main icon to add depth.
This is an example of an offset background:
Notice how the different shapes help give the icon a new look and fill in some of the empty space around it. Depending on the background of your canvas, you can create some very cool blending effects as well, like the one below.
The image on the left completely blends in with the background, giving it a clean and unified look. The icon on the right still works, but pops out instead.
3. Use a Square Background
Similarly to the circle background, a square background will also add some negative space around your icon. Using a square background works particularly well with icons that have no fill or border.
Here is an example of square background styles:
4. Choose Contrasting Colors
What’s important to understand is that icons should be eye-catching but not distracting. The colors you choose should follow the same principle.
When trying to better grasp how to use colors in infographics, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure colors fit your theme & brand
- Use the color wheel to select colors
By using contrasting colors with your icon combinations, you ensure that they remain visible without appearing tacky and unwarranted.
Here’s an example of using contrasting colors to create beautiful icons:
5. Play with Oversized Icons
When using backgrounds to enhance your icons, you can oversize the icons to create new perspective.
Here is an example:
This style of icon use works well in titles or to use with text labels.
6. Use Varied Background Shapes
Another method of using backgrounds with icons is to change the shape of the background. If you’re creating a numbered list, or process infographic, this style can help create a structured flow and ease the readability of your infographic.
Many logo designers use different background shapes with icons as well.
7. Try Double Icons
I love using double icons, or double text widgets to add texture to an image. This is done by overlaying a smaller version of an icon on top of a larger version of the same icon.
Here is an example of what that would look like:
What this does is give your icon a completely unique look with a strong focal point. If you want to create an icon border, this method is both subtle but aesthetically pleasing.
8. Use Half Backgrounds
Finally, you can use half backgrounds to place your icon on a pedestal.
If you want to give direction to your icons, this can be particularly useful. Notice how the last example can also be used to stylize an arrow.
Direction helps your reader follow the sequence of data on an infographic and greatly improves their overall experience.
Whether you are a professional designer, or a marketer simply trying to create better visuals for your blog or for social media, these eight simple hacks can really bring a new and professional look to your infographics. They will help you transform a seemingly basic icon into a creative illustration.
Sometimes the easiest solutions are right beneath our noses. If you have any other icon hacks that you’d like to share, please include them in the comments!