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case study

knight Code

Creative Direction | Iconography | Card Design

KnightCode To Go:

Client trust is invaluable. Consistency builds creativity.
Effectively communicate inspiration.

The KnightCode team approached us to help bring creative vision to their newest project, a card-sorting game to help families identify their core values and identity. They had already developed the gameplay mechanics and content but needed a robust visual design system to bring this project to life.

The game cards comprised 100 descriptive words, each visually represented by a custom icon. Our first task was to create a singular creative direction for the iconography style. Utilizing mood boards, we opted for a clean monoline style.

Testing, Sketchy Shit, Manic Artboards

Due to the large number of icons, we had to ensure each icon fit cohesively with the rest of the set. To test this, we created a sample set of 5 icons to gauge how well they work together stylistically. We quickly realized that the circular framing around each icon significantly contributed to a uniform look and feel amongst the icons. Once the sample set was approved, I spent the next eight months crafting the remaining 90 icons. We went intentionally slow, building only one pillar (10 icons) at a time. Pacing ourselves was all about quality control and avoiding creative burnout. At the end of every pillar, we compared it to the previous one to check consistency and cohesiveness.

Each icon set began with sketches. I first looked at each pillar thematically, which greatly informed each icon. I then started with the most straightforward and recognizable representation of each term. Once I had a sketch concept I knew I could work with, I jumped into Illustrator and began vectorizing the icon.

I then continually refined the icon, sometimes to make it more visually exciting and other times to provide clarity. Icon after icon, I repeated this process. Once I had completed the set, I compared each icon to gauge how well they fit together stylistically and thematically.

After I completed each pillar, I would meet with the KnightCode team to assess and discuss any necessary changes. The pillar presentations ended up being the most reassuring part of the process. With each icon set, I developed a better understanding of the KnightCode team’s vision and quickly became able to predict their stylistic preferences. My emotional intuition and ability to connect with clients proved to be my greatest asset on this project.


Finally, all 100 icons were finished and approved! It was a journey that challenged and immensely strengthened my creative problem-solving abilities. But we still had work to do. Next, I had to design the physical game cards that displayed each icon. We decided on a hexagonal card shape early in the icon development process. We would feature the card’s icon and associated word on one side. The opposite side would highlight the icon’s word, phonetic pronunciation, and description. One of the primary challenges for the card design was displaying the icon on the back. I quickly realized that keeping the icon black and white helped with visibility and contrast. However, this made the icon side of the card feel flat and uninteresting. To fix this, I created a unique geometric background pattern. I also utilized a vignette shadow to provide depth and luminosity to the background.
For the definition side, I applied a smaller, pillar-specific, patterned background and darker shadowing to provide texture and depth to the card. For the color palette, I focused on warm yet vibrant colors. Each pillar was then assigned a specific color and unique background pattern. An overlayed crossbar created the perfect contrasting section to display the card title. Finishing touches included adding a smaller version of the icon to the top of the card and some gradient line-work.
And now we’re here! KnightCode is currently working on prototyping and production of the cards. If you’ve read this far, thank you! Designing these cards utilized all of my creative skills and is one of my favorite projects to date. Most importantly, it showed me the importance of developing strong client relationships and the value of a client’s trust. On to the next one.