My app store icons are always an afterthought, and I hack them together last. Thing is, I'm no artist. Where are you goes getting your icons, and do you have any tips?
You might consider hiring someone to make an app icon for you. They aren't terribly expensive compared to say graphics for a whole game and there are plenty of talented graphic artists among our forum members.
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I make my own icons they're not the best of the best. But what I do is sit down for like an hour or 2 & think of something simple that's not to jumbled that gets to the point & explains what my app is about. Just google search app icons & splash screens & get your inspiration from there. That's how I came up with my splash screen which I love! Trust me its best for you to do things on your own you get much more from it! You learn from your mistakes..!
I think your basically answering your own question in your opening sentence. If you treat your app icon as an afterthought and just "hack" them together at the end, then regardless of your artistic skills, they're probably always going to be a bit hit and miss.
Plan your icon earlier. Put more thought and effort into it. It's the main visual reference for people to identify your app amongst thousands of others. It's one of the key factors of getting your app noticed... So really shouldn't just be left as a last minute chore.
And if you really can't spend time on it... Then like Tatiang suggested, hire someone to do it for you.
@tatiang @chunkypixels Yeah, I definitely need to hire out. What is a reasonable budget for just the icons, usually? Just for frame of reference.
As for basic advice.... Keep them simple and clear. Remember that although your asked to supply the icons in 512x512 or 1024x1024 size, the icons are actually displayed most of the time at the size of an adults thumbnail.
So if you try to throw in too much detail, when it's shrunk down, a lot of that detail is going to become unclear or mix with other details, and can end up looking ugly or cluttered.
Where possible, try not to put text in the icon. Again, it can lose clarity when shrunk down, but generally just isn't needed... As you have text under the icon.
And then there's the obvious.... Try to make your icon have instantly understandable visuals that are connected to the actual app content...
Cost could be anything from $5 to $50+ depending on where you source the artist from and their experience. You might find someone on Fiverr site or whatever it's called... who could do one for $5, however most artists are going to be in the $40-$50 range, with specific graphic design companies obviously charging potentially much much higher...
But for most small indie devs... Anything from $5 - $50. Obviously, the less you pay, the more likely your icon is going to end up looking like something you could have done yourself... but there's always the chance you could strike gold.
... And... Just for reference....
Most of the larger game studios will spend potentially thousands of dollars on creating their app icons. They'll usually try out a dozen or so variants of the icon... If not more. Then change the icon a number of times during development, as the game evolves. I've known studios to employ an artist full time just to do app icons... and spend weeks trying out different versions in the quest to get the perfect icon.
Obviously that's not practical for small indie devs... but it does highlight how important the big developers and publishers think good app icons and game logo's are.
So at the very least, you should spend a few hours playing with ideas for your icon... It's your shop window...
@metamet if you're looking for a great graphic designer to design icons for you check out my post here, my prices range from $10 to $20