August 2011 • Skype × Hicks Design

Upscaling a core brand element

The launch of high DPI devices in 2011 such as the iPhone 4 and Motorola Droid pushed the mobile team at Skype into moving beyond simple pixel-doubling and a realization that a total overhaul was necessary to futureproof the work across multiple platforms.

As a team this was a huge task over several months — as a design team, we had to consider and make informed decisions on pixels vs. vectors; the arrangement of the emoticon palette on different form factors, the merits of PNG and SVG-T; balancing line weights at different sizes and most crucially of all, keeping a sense of the original set without drifting too much into 'quirky'.

Extending and animating

Jon talks more about the overall process of creating the static images in his journal, and at a later date we engaged with the absurdly talented Julian Frost to take the spirit of Jon's work and create animated versions for those platforms that supported it.

Here's a few of the standouts that I especially enjoyed working with Julian and the team on. Sadly (but possibly for the best) not all of these survived the Microsoft acquisition.

Julian's Muse

Along the way in any design process, there's always a few memorable moments that get lost to history, but this is one that we were fortunate to capture for future generations - the history of the Skype (dance) emoticon:

Skype dance emoticon

Our colleague, Mark Lacroce is captured here offering up his take on the Carlton and other moves; after, Julian brings it to life.


Jaak Parik
Oliver Reitalu
Steve "Buzz" Pearce