new gnome icon redesign
A selection of updated icons

Like many, I’ve been itching to learn a bit more about GNOME’s new icon set.

But I need itch no more!

Red Hat employee and GNOME team designer Jakub Steiner has taken to his blog to detail the “…background on why [the icon redesign] was needed, our goals with the initiative, and our exciting plans for the future.

We can expect to see the first fruits of this bold new icon revamp in GNOME 3.32 when it’s released in March.

All of the new GNOME icons are proportionally designed according to a grid (more on that below), make use of a refined color palette, and use solid, geometric lines. Some icons sport a bottom lip/chin, giving them a semi-3D perspective that’s sort of like a Scrabble tile.

Anyway, while the upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 release will be based on GNOME 3.32 it won’t feature this new icon set. Why? Because Ubuntu has its own! It will continue to use the (newly expanded) Suru/Yaru icon set.

GNOME’s new icons will be available to install in Ubuntu 19.04. We’ll have a blog post on how to do that shortly.

GNOME’s Great Icon Set Revamp

Back the reasons behind the revamp.

Jakub lists 6 key problems with GNOME’s current approach to icon design that need fixing going forward, some of which the slick promo video above touches on.

  • Devs have to make multiple icons in varying sizes
  • Existing style guidelines intimidating to follow
  • Few third-party app devs adhere to GNOME’s style guidelines
  • GNOME can’t make icons for all apps requested
  • The icon style has remained stagnant as wider trends have shifted
  • Most popular third-party apps use flatter, 2D icons

So, to foster a more open, collaborative and accessible ecosystem, GNOME are reducing the number of icons dev have to create, relaxing their hitherto stale style guidelines, and meeting up with modern design trends.

There is a thorough set of new icon design guidelines for app developers to follow (should they want to). These guidelines encourage the use of a gridded layout when designing icons:

GNOME icon design grid

By following the official GNOME icon shape guidelines and constraints, developers and designers no longer have to create multiple icons of varying sizes. Instead, GNOME expects a single scalable icon and a basic symbolic icon (where necessary).

The end result will be a GNOME desktop that is more beautiful, more consistent, and more efficient — and while the new approach may not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s a major improvement over the mish-mash 2000s aesthetic the DE currently sports.

Progress in progress – are you a fan?

Are you a fan of the new heavily geometric icons? Would you prefer a flatter look, or something more 3D and “real world? And what suggestions would you give GNOME for encouraging app developers to follow their new guidelines?

Let us know in the comments below!

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