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Hello Chalkwork

March 26, 2007

I was a bit oblique last time I wrote about icon design; I said I’ve been thinking about the subject lately, but I didn’t say why.

Chalkwork Graphic

After watching the happenings over at IconBuffet, StockIcons, and the new IconShoppe, it struck me last year that stock icon design might be something interesting to try out myself. I’ve worked on icon design projects in the past, so I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of finding the time.

Well, that finally happened. I’m happy to announce my introductory set, Chalkwork Basic, which you can buy starting today.

Chalkwork is ultimately a much larger set of icons unified by common style and colour; Basic is simply the first pack of what I hope to be many more. There are around 250 in the family so far, but at one point I finally decided to focus on a smaller subset and just get them out there to make sure there’s a demand before I produce the rest.

I’d like to see the family grow to a thousand plus in total, but that all depends on what happens next. So if you or your favourite site/application developers are looking for a consistenly designed, high quality set of icons, make sure to spread the word!

ptamaro says:
March 26, 10h

Nice work indeed. How’d you find the time to pump them out?

You may also want to sell them in batches on based on useage, function, etc.


March 26, 10h

They are fabulous icons!

March 26, 11h

Awesome job, Dave. And kudos for the 3D chalk tabs on the product page — it really sets it off (God, now I sound like one of my marketers). I’m curious about that image… Photoshop? Maya? Oil paint and a fine brush?

March 26, 11h

I agree, nice work, Dave.

Any chance you’ll make them available also as WPF vector graphics in XAML?

March 26, 11h

Great work Dave! This is definitely not an accusation, but I’m curious about the RSS icon that you’ve included in your set. Because it’s sort of a standard, are there (or, were there) any issues involved with ‘selling’ that icon as a piece of another product?

Kevin Marino says:
March 26, 12h

Nice work. There is one critique (not necessarily of your work). Is it possible to organize icons by groups or tags.

As I add more icons I find it becomes increasingly difficult to organize and find and even though everybody may have different organizational ideas, if you did some sort of folder grouping (in download) it would be easier to determine what to do with them.

Like the pill icons at the top too.

giz404 says:
March 26, 12h

Very nice icons indeed !

rigbey says:
March 26, 12h

These icons look too generic for my taste. Most icons look alike. I prefer the pictogram stuff.
I miss the playfulness like the shopping cart icon.

March 26, 13h

What I really want to know is the technique you use to create the image above in Photoshop (I presume?).

I’ve seen this “foggy” window effect before, where it appears like you’re looking at the monitor on an angle. I’ve tried to replicate this myself, but to no success.

Dave S. says:
March 26, 13h

@Tom Finley - “the 3D chalk tabs on the product page”

I came up with the idea to use scotch mints as the product images. I photographed a set of mints sitting on top of a glass surface, then Photoshopped the icons over top.

@Joe Marini - “Any chance you’ll make them available also as WPF vector graphics in XAML?”

Vector might be an option one day, but that would probably require a separate release. There’d be quite a bit of work to do cleaning up the outlines for a decent vector set.

@Jonathan E - “I’m curious about the RSS icon that you’ve included in your set”

Hadn’t really thought about it, I saw other icon sets with their own stylized version of it and followed their lead. Note that my version actually is one I custom-created for this set (though it admittedly ended up being similar to the one at

@Kevin Marino - “Is it possible to organize icons by groups or tags.”

Not entirely sure how that would work at the file system level. The sample set gives you an idea of how the final set is organized by folders, with a preview image at the root. This is the best I came up with on my own, but if you’ve got an idea for implementing tags without having to spend a bunch on custom development, I’m all ears.

@rigbey - “These icons look too generic for my taste.”

Fair criticism, but my guess is that’s the nature of stock. I’m guessing wildly unique and stylized icons don’t sell nearly as well as more generic sets.

March 26, 13h

Dave - “Note that my version actually is one I custom-created for this set (though it admittedly ended up being similar to the one at”

Fair enough :)

John says:
March 26, 14h

I absolutely love the icon mints. However, it’s hard to get a good feel for the actual icons with those copy protection dots all over. It gives your icons a washed-out, sort of matte finish. Would you consider just using a band of dots in the middle, so we could at least get a little glimpse of pure icons?

Nathanael says:
March 26, 16h

Dave - that’s a really nice set of icons; if I’m ever going to buy a set of icons I’m pretty sure these are going to be it.

When looking at other sets on the Net it seems I have to buy multiple sets to get the icons I want, but this is just perfect! Good work

March 26, 17h

Nice work, Dave. The chart, clock, notepad, report and shopping-cart icons are real stand-outs. Overall, this is a really attractive set.

@Kevin Marino: If you’re on a Mac, you could import the icons into Pixadex: It allows you to organise your sets by folder/sub-folder/collection/smart-collection and search by name/app/tags and probably a few other ways I haven’t figured out yet—very handy. I hear there is a new version in the works, as well (that will accommodate much larger sizes). Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with the product (just a fan). Unfortunately, I’m not sure if something like this exists for the PC … ?

March 26, 19h

Well done, as is typical, Dave.

The chart, graph, calendar and calculator are particularly nice.

Stv, says:
March 26, 22h

Nice work, Dave! I might just have to have a talk with the boss-man to see if we might use these to replace our aging, self-design icons for our software :)

Jon says:
March 27, 07h

I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but considering you can get 198 icons for less than yours here:

And that they look sort of better in my personal opinion, you might want to revisit your prices…

(PS: I have no affiliations with the guy who made them, besides the fact that I bought them…)

March 27, 09h

Nice set. How about adding an icon for a Blog. I haven’t seen such icon anywhere yet. Don’t you think that the time has come for a unique Blog icon, just like there are icons for Home or Contact?

Dan says:
March 27, 13h

Just thought I would let you know the photo in this blog entry breaks the layout on the left side and sticks out. Looks bad.

I am browsing with Firefox with a resolution of 1400x1050.

Dan says:
March 27, 13h

Wait, is it supposed to do that? I hope not. Well, since it matches the top I guess so. Yeah that stick out thing isn’t working for me.

March 27, 14h

Even though I understand the need for copy protection it’s a it hard to get a good feel for the icons with this many red dots.

Paul says:
March 27, 14h

@Jon - Those icons are nice at icondrawer, but I think many would disagree that the price of Dave’s icons are unfair.

@Dave Shea - First of all, I think these icons look great.

Second - Do you plan on releasing sets that contain around as many icons as this set, or maybe doing a smaller basic set of this set?

Luke says:
March 27, 14h

“Chalk” definitely describes these icons well. I especially like your Notepad and Report icons.

Chris says:
March 28, 09h

Love the icons … very simple and elegant.

Wish I had the money to buy ‘em! ;)

Runa says:
March 28, 09h

I wonder what a beautiful job you made. The icons are simple and fine at the same time.

March 29, 05h

Awesome! Simple and elegant. However an important icon (in my opinion) is missing. I see an I-pod. But what about a cell phone? I have been desperately looking for one…

Jeroen says:
March 31, 14h

Congratulations on your first step into the stock icon arena, Dave. I bet Dan Cederholm is frantically working on his next set to out-iconize his new competitor (ehm, companion?).

But (there’s always a but around somewhere), I feel there’s a slight off-balance in the set as a whole. The control icons (arrows, play-pause-next, delete, confirm etc) seem a bit ‘fat’ compared to the more descriptive icons (document, report, chart, contact, hard drive, photos). And I can’t suppress a slight Windows taste sensation. What are your feelings about this?

But overall: cool job, I’m looking forward to the more comprehensive set!

Mikhail says:
March 31, 23h

I agree to Jeroen, the “navigation” icons arrows/controls/etc. seem to be displayed more “important” than document/chart/etc. icons. Apart from this, nice set.

Josh Pyles says:
March 31, 23h

Hey Dave,

Not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I find the red overlay quite a bit intrusive. A few red lines would probably do the trick. I am also an icon artist and looking at your icons I can hardly picture what the true colors should be. Most people in this industry either use plain red lines or sometimes even nothing at all. I completely understand why they are there, but I would love to be able to really see the true colors.

Congratulations on your first set! Hope it sells well :)

Pete B says:
April 01, 04h

Isn’t the influence in the new logo and the icon shop a bit obvious?

Jeroen says:
April 01, 06h

@Pete B: I think you might want to check your calendar. :)

Cat says:
April 03, 09h

super! free plug

BenSky says:
April 11, 03h

Really nice icons, simple, in-offensive and calming. Interested into seing more sets!

Kai says:
April 14, 07h

Very nice first icon set.

I also like icons at N.Design Studio.


Adam C - Cardiff, Wales UK says:
April 20, 07h

Like Geof’s post:
Geof Harries says:March 26, 13h
What I really want to know is the technique you use to create the image above in Photoshop (I presume?).

I’ve seen this “foggy” window effect before, where it appears like you’re looking at the monitor on an angle. I’ve tried to replicate this myself, but to no success

I to would really like to now how you achieved the “looking at the monitor” effect with your Chalkword basic picture above!

The slight angling and blurring I have found difficult to replicate… I’ve seen this effect done many times on different sites but would love to know how to do it… Fancy posing us a tutorial?!? Please… :|

Kelvin says:
April 27, 06h


…for the image perspective and tilting stuff, I simply use the ‘3-D Rotation’ tools in MS Powerpoint…(Paste the screen-shot into a blank slide, then play around with the 3D properties of the image, then save the resulting image back out)

I guess there are great filters for Photoshop to achieve the same effect, but as I don’t use this, this is my simple approach.

May 08, 06h

Great set. Maybe you could some day publish a tutorial about creating icons. You don’t need to publish all your tricks but just to help people get started… :-)