The Secrets of Recognizable Dental Icon Designs

dental+iconsThere are some industries that rely heavily on icons and logos, and healthcare is definitely one of them. Most medical websites feel the need of good quality images during development, but the true crisis is felt by the dental websites. Stock images of dentists, dental procedures, and dental equipment are not particularly rich as compared to other facades of medicine.

Icon and Logo design cannot be underrated when it comes to healthcare and dental practices. An icon must inspire respect, recognition, and trust among your visitors and potential clients. For this, an icon must be unique, well designed and eye-catching.

There are three defining characters of a good icon design:

  1. Aesthetics unity –your icon set and logo must have a few shared elements that create a sense of belonging amidst the icons belonging to the same set. This may include the style of the icon (flat, glyph or filled line), specific corner size and the color choices.
  2. Form –it is the underlying structure of an icon that imparts a similarity among the icons shared within a set. If you leave the details out and draw a line around the major shapes, you will be able to see that they are composed of primary geometric shapes. Circle, triangle, and square are the basics of creating a visually stable foundation.
  3. Recognizability – what makes your icon unique? Can it be spotted in a grid of hundred other icons? Will your client be able to tell your presence among hundreds of other icons representing hundreds of other practices and businesses? Recognizability refers to the recognition of your unique icon set and not just the typical representation of the idea.

Let us check out a few ways to ensure that you are on the right track of icon designing.

Start with a grid:

There are several grids you can use that strive to meet your requirements. Your grid must be divided into several zones. For example, if you have a 32×32 pixel grid, you can use the other 2 pixels as the no-go-zone of the margin. This helps you keep your icon clean and leaves in some breathing room in the design.

Keep all elements outside this no-go-zone. E.g.: The South Tulsa Dental website. Only a few elements can be extended that add accent to your icon. For example, if you are creating a collection of dental icons and working on a simple tooth, steer clear of incorporating parts of the tooth in the margin unless you want to include a caricature of a microbe or cavity that needs a special accent.


This is another aspect of a good icon and logo. Using a square grid should give you a good grip on the symmetry of your icon. Circular icons and square icons are both centered in the grid. While circular icons usually touch the outermost corners, the square ones refrain from doing so. In most cases, circular elements need to venture into the no-go-zone to maintain the design integrity which is otherwise well preserved in square logos and icons.

If you are using multiple shapes in one set, make sure that your icons maintain a visual parity. For this, the square ones need to align to the key line in the equatorial region of the grid. If you are working on a diagonally oriented icon, align it with the edges for a sense of balance. For example, a pair of dentures will be focused on the central key line while a diagonally oriented toothbrush will definitely be aligned with the edges of your square grid.

Go with symmetric geometric shapes:

This is quite easy to follow. From mouth mirrors to dentures, you can break everything down into basic geometric shapes. It will need a considerable amount of practice and time. But the best way to perfect it is to start working with Adobe Illustrator. This ensures that your icons are organic and easy on the eyes.

Starting with basic shapes has the distinct advantage of making the edges more precise and symmetric. It also helps you adhere to both form and grid of the design.

Mind your angles:

Human eyes have a penchant for 45-degree angles and its multiples for some very strange reason. But the fact of the matter is that our eyes and our brains simply love the anti-aliasing on 45-degree angles. The most common reason being evenly stepped angles that result in crisp and perfect diagonals. So while designing use a number of elements that use the multiples or halves of 45-degrees.

This is the very basic reason you find almost all icons of mouth mirrors, tooth extractors and toothbrushes aligned in 45-degrees to the horizontal base.

We like curves:

True for both women and our icons, the curves are the most noticeable. In case of icons not all kinds of curves are pleasing to the eyes. As a matter of fact, the lack of precision can make a painstakingly time taking icon look amateurish.

To refrain from this rookie mistake you can rely heavily on shape tools from Adobe Illustrator. You can take help from the modifier key (shift key) without any self-doubt. You can even turn to InkScribe and VectorScribe for more refined control.

Consistent design elements:

It can be the use of negative spaces or the inclusion of signature kinks in your design. But the design elements need to be constant throughout the whole set of icons and logos. For example, if you use a touch of blue to represent the contrasting qualities of your icon or the message they convey, simply stick to that one color till you are done designing that particular set. If you include a shadow in one icon, try and include the same kind of shadow in the other icons of that set as well. There should be a parity of the design elements used and it should create an impact on the viewer.

Icons are more than just art. These are the recognizing factors behind a number of brands and businesses.

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