Thunderbird

20 Apr 2004

Following on from the branding of Firefox, comes the new logo for Mozilla’s email client, Thunderbird. When Stephen Desroches sketched out the orginal idea for Firefox back in December, he had in mind how this affects the other applications, and Thunderbird was sketched out too:

original sketches by Stephen Desroches

After Firefox 0.8 came out, I started work on fleshing theses sketches out, trying various bird types. Early on we decided to keep the envelope metaphor, and include a globe. At this point I couldn’t find any reference to a real Thunderbird, so I didn’t have a starting point. I tried a few approaches:

my working sketches

These are my working sketches – #1:Too evil! #2: Dove =
too fluffy! (although it stood for mail in many countries)
#3: Too different in position to Firefox #4: Too hunched! #5:better, but still a wierd shape. Generally, the perspective on all but the first sketch looked a bit odd.

Finally I’d found a reference to a mythical Thunderbird in Native American art, which had a crest. I really liked this idea, and added it to the final sketch. Sketch #6 is a basic vectors sketch using #5 as a basis, but adding the crest and improving the posture.

Native American Thunderbird

Finally we had something we had something that the team were all happy with.

This time I was using Illustrator CS to create the logo. I started by creating the main colour palette – a range of tones as new swatches, I usually do about four: ‘Darkest. Dark, Mid, Light’. With each colour, I checked the option for ‘Global’. All gradients were then created using these swatches. This allowed me to adjust the colours for, say, “Mid tone” and it would then update all the instances of that colour – even those used in gradients.

my working sketches

Here are the final icons:


Final icons

More importantly, Thunderbird also gets Kevin Gerich and Stephen Horlander’s brand spanking new pinstripe theme for OS X. When you compare this interface with the Windows equivalent, you can really appreciate the attention to detail. They’ve gone to huge lengths to make this look and feel as much of a native app as possible. I only converted to Apple Mail from Entourage back in January, but I’m giving Tbird a spin to see if I’m tempted over. So far I particularly love the 3 column layout option. At the time of writing, the new icon artwork has only been checked into the Windows version – OS X will come soon.

Now that Firefox and Thunderbird are both ‘done’, the task is go back over both of them, tweaking and polishing before the final release candidates.

Recent Posts

The Hicks Logowall

05 Oct 2018

Hiding Away

16 Sep 2018

Biro sketch of Lauzerte

23 Aug 2018

Firefox Identity Project

21 Aug 2018

It’s just fashion

26 Jun 2018

The Symbol Sourcebook

08 Jun 2018

Differences between Icon and Logo Design on This is HCD Podcast

10 Apr 2018

Twelve South PencilSnap

01 Apr 2018

The Infinite Canvas

09 Feb 2018

Instagram Hickstagram

  • 22 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 22. Well, @hicksmade left me with a toughie to follow. Here’s my attempt at Dali taking his pet anteater for a walk. #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #dali

  • 21 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 21, another bird (sorry @hicksmade)! This is the Snipe that I watched from the hide at Rusty Common on Friday. Lovely birds with beaks that defy the body they’re attached to. #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #snipe

  • 21 Oct 2018

    Common Darter Dragonfly

  • 20 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 20: quick doodle without planning in pencil or looking at reference, which is usually a bad idea. Your turn @hicksmade! #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober

  • 20 Oct 2018

    Morning dog walk. Even the wheelie bins looked good in this light

  • 20 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 19. Following @hicksmade’s marshmallows with more marshmallows 🤪 #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #ghostbusters #staypuft

  • 18 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 18. When @hicksmade did a prawn I was sure she was setting me up to do cocktails! #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #cocktails

  • 18 Oct 2018

  • 18 Oct 2018

  • 18 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 17 . @hicksmade’s pen led me onto squid and their ink shooting abilities. I also found out that a part of the squids anatomy is called a ‘pen’. #inktober #inktober2018 #ink #leighandjondoinktober

Contact us

Call Jon on +44 (0)7917 391536, email or tweet @hicksdesign.

Alternatively, pop in for tea and cake at the studio…

Hicks
Wenrisc House
Meadow Court
Witney, OX28 6ER
United Kingdom