New Thunderbird Icon: Iterations 4 – 6

Note: this is a draft icon rendering for the Thunderbird 3 icon, subsequent iterations will be posted as soon as they're available.

Keep the feedback coming in, they've been extremely helpful and we're doing our best to incorporate your suggestions.

Iteration 6. 20090729


Changes in this version:

  • A third row of small feathers.  Small feathers are less defined, less bright.  No seal.  Slightly whiter envelope.

Iteration 5. 20090729


Changes in this version:

  • Fewer feathers.  No seal.  Slightly whiter envelope.

Iteration 4. 20090729


Changes in this version:

  • Logo with seal and example of small version of logo w/ seal.
  • Lots of feathers.

Background Information

Please provide feedback via the comments section through these blog posts.

34 Replies to “New Thunderbird Icon: Iterations 4 – 6”

  1. I like seal and envelope color : Iteration 4.
    I like feathers style and color : Iteration 6.

  2. I'd love to see the seal on Iteration 6. Optherwise, Iteration 6 definitely gets my vote as final (or close to it). I'd love to see a slightly more pointed end on the shortest feathers though…

  3. Hi,
    nice work, my vote for iteration 6, with seal but not in mini version, we can not read the envelope.
    Talking about the envelope I suggest to give more depth to the 'V' shape the top flap or make it darker; it will be more evident, it is a mail app.
    The Gmail icon or logo, is a clear statement. Look in mini or favicon it's a clear example.

    Thanks and keep your good efforts.

  4. A few comments about the feathers. I notice that the design here has essentially split the feathers into three sections:
    – Bottom section: the same in all three iterations, with three levels of feathers.
    – Middle section: the same in iterations 5-6 (two levels of large feathers), different in iteration 4 (three levels of smaller feathers).
    – Top section: different in all three iterations (two levels in iterations 4 and 5, three levels in iteration 6).

    Now, my comments for each section would be:
    – Bottom section: I think it looks great, and you've pretty much nailed it down. It could do with a bit more polish of course, for example the leftmost feather of the topmost level could become a bit more curved/3D, but it's at *that* level of maturity/nitpicking.
    – Middle section: Hm, I'm torn on whether I like the more feathers of iteration 4 or the less feathers of iterations 5-6 more; they both look really nice. I'm slightly more inclined to prefer the 5-6 version, if only because the additional detail in 4 feels like a distraction from the rest of the icon.
    – Top section: This one is the one that I feel needs more work still. The top feathers of iteration 5 I really don't like; they don't look like feathers, they look like a viscous transparent liquid flowing down the bird. The ones in iteration 6 don't look like feathers either; they look like fish scales. The feathers in iteration 4 I'm not too happy about either; they don't match the rest of the feathers in either the shape (not pointy/angular enough) or the colour (the gradient style is different).

    What I would like to see is the same bottom section, a middle section like the middle section of iterations 5-6, and a top section like the *middle* section of iteration 4 (i.e. short feathers, but similar in style with the rest).

    Finally, let me say that compared to the previous iterations I think you've done a fantastic job; the feathers have a very distinct, 3D, almost tactile feel to them. I think they're very close in style now to the tail of the final version of the Firefox 3.5 icon, which is probably the intended outcome.

    Keep up the good work. :^)

  5. I probably like 5 and 6 the best. The seal is terrible, and will look awful when smaller. I makes no sense. Most people don't need an @ to know it is e-mail, what else could it be. And, if you can't read it, it becomes an extra, unneeded blob. KISS

  6. Some thoughts:
    – I think we're close to final with the wings with iteration 6. Could use some additional feedback there.

    – For the envelope, still struggling to decide 1) whether we should go with the whiter color (newer feeling but cold) or yellowish color envelope (warmer feeling), and 2) whether we should have the seal or not. The thought is to not have the seal because it's a detail that doesn't scale well and the scale feels "old".

  7. Looks awesome.
    It would provide a lot more character and color if something was added to the envelope but I don't think it's absolutely necessary, just something that would be nice. Perhaps adding the first class postage border to the envelope would be cool but I'm not sure if that is U.S. specific or global. Though I suppose that a border could be added anyway.

    In any event, great work!

  8. It's looking great.

    I think all the small feathers should be at least a little pointed (like the third row in Iteration 6).

    I like the look of the seal, but you're right that it doesn't scale well. I don't think you're losing anything by leaving it off.

    I prefer the warmer feel of the envelope in Iteration 4. I think it gives a "high quality" look rather than an "old" look.

  9. @Ken
    It is US specific, but it is still well recognized.

    Anyone ever seen a red wax seal on a modern envelope? I think it takes away from the modern look of the icon. Which is not a message we want to give. It also not clear what it is on the small icon. Move it up a tad and we have rudolph the red nose … Thunderbird …

    The wing still looks like something that is going to fall off. I think it needs to be better connected to the body in a way that where one starts and the other ends is not clear.

  10. Oh at last! :) I like how this wing changed in iteration 6! Now it is correctly separated into 3 sections, and short feathers are rounded. Good job! I don't need to draw another "Natural bird wings" drawing :)
    Also, somebody told here, that rounded feathers shape is bad. IT IS GOOD! Afaik, in real world there is absolutely NO birds with pointed feathers on wings. Especially short feathers are ALWAYS clearly rounded, like fish scale. So, such short feathers' form in iteration 6 is GOOD.
    Now some suggestions:
    1. Wings. I suggest you to add more contrasted, more distinguishable GLARES on short feathers. Because it is time to try to scale this icon to smaller sizes, to see how it looks. For example, on original icon, in 32×32 and 48×48 sizes, those small feathers looks like 1×1 or 2×2 pixels size SPOTS — short feathers are still distinguishable! But your short feathers are NOT distinguishable in such small sizes, so tweak it more, add glares.
    Also, don't forget about the second wing, it had no updates since iteration 2. Update it to match the latest iteration's front wing.
    2. Seal. Being a graphics designer myself, I'm really NOT SURE right now about the seal. It looks good on large icon, but on smaller sizes it will destroy the "V" shape of the envelope. There are some methods to solve this problem, like tweaking small icons, etc. But I'm not sure, maybe it is better to completely remove the seal? But I like how it looks in the large icon. Not sure…
    3. Envelope. Imho, warmer color of iteration 4 was the best.

  11. @Michael Buckley
    What exactly do you call a "modern" style? Cold, gray and boring corporate style? Nooo… Look at the Firefox logo — there is a perfect balance between hot orange and cold blue, and it looks very lovely. That's why I'm advobating the warmer envelope (and maybe the seal).

  12. My vote is Iteration 6. top one is almost perfect great work ;)the seal is cool but most of icons will be small as it was said before it will just be lost as a red dot or blob
    I don't think a postage stamp on the back would make any sense?

  13. Of these I like iteration 6 the most. The feathers do it, they are somehow more subtle, especially the 3rd row of small feathers. I do think I like the seal too, how would iteration 6 look with that? Or with a more subtle "@" watermark on the envelope of iteration 6?

  14. I like the colors of iteration 4, would probably add even more yellow/orange to the envelope.
    The feathers (especially the top ones) still need some impovements, but I think it's looking great.

    Keep the seal, but make it a bit bigger, and just remove it in smaller sizes, if it does not look good.

    I think it would be a good idea to change the version number of Thunderbird 3 to Thunderbird 3.5.
    It would keep Thunderbird in sync with the current Firefox version and people wouldn't have that feeling,
    they are falling behind a bit.

  15. looks good to me. I would perhaps just focus a little more on the staggering and layering of feathers to make them a little more dimensional (perhaps having them cast slightly more distinct shadows on each other). Also maybe try fraying the edges of some of the feathers to give the icon a bit more fidelity? Otherwise love the shape, color and texture in iteration 6. I also really like the white envelope over the aged yellowish one.

  16. Anthony is on vacation so the next will come the week of the 17th. We're pretty close to finishing it up though and will be using iteration 6 for the final save for a few tweaks.

    The feedback has been great.

  17. I'm with 4 mostly. Colour-wise mostly. I'd only replace the little feathers to the ones from It6. Talking of naturality, the little feathers are rounded, and soft, so they seemlessly create a flat surface, so it might be visually "blending" the wing to the body, if the first (from the body side) line of small feathers had a lower contrast/detail, and the second a bit more.

    It's not a long way from finalization anyway. For the seal, I'm not sure either. But as the graphics thing seems to be consolidated to a global satisfaction, maybe it's time to think philosophic. Thunderbird is basically to replace the natural way of sending messages. So this might help in explaining the yellowish, oldish colour of the envelope instead of a snowy white modern one. If this is not a suitable explanation, you might as well make the envelope "recycled" :) like – use e-mail, save the trees. Thinking of which, this might replace the original seal which actually IS a bit old, and has been used mostly in medieval times I guess. So maybe you could replace the seal with a recyclation tree stamp (not the sign with three arrows, this might indicate something else than environment friendliness), can't find the circular one I remember, though, in case you don't know what I'm talking about.

  18. I like seal. That point of red will make the icon much visible… different…

    From version to version, even if inside technological changes are the more important, users want to see that something has changed at the UI level, too… that the product is as friendly as possible (real EASY to use), and much more BEAUTIFUL…

  19. I thought about adding some green in the feathers would be nice for several reasons :

    – monochrome feathers are monotonous
    – Firefox icon has orange and yellow
    – Thunderbird 3 will integrate calendar which was first developed for the Sunbird¹ project, whose icon was mainly green

    Also, it might be relevant to integrate some reference to the calendar in the icon, given that Thunderbird 3 will not only be a mail client. However it can eventually lead to an hideous result.


  20. Of all the options, I like the whiter envelope rather than the tan/yellow envelope.

    Please realize these designs look great but they are also very large. Who has them on their system at that size? Is it possible to produce each rendering at different sizes so I and others can see what the rendering may look like as if it were the real deal?

    Also, do the number of feathers and the seal really matter if my icon displays on my Dock (I use Mac OS X) as 48×48? I use TB 2.x now and I couldn't tell you the color of the bird's eye since its so small. And at that size the bird looks mostly like a blob with a weird envelope. If Thunderbird shows up in Windows' system tray then I assume it appears much smaller than 48×48.

    My suggestion: A major release of Thunderbird deserves a new icon or at least a revamped icon. On I noticed someone designed a totem pole that incorporates what appears to be a bird on top of a fox on top of a lizard (I assume Thunderbird -> Firefox -> Gecko). I like the idea of taking the basic design of just the bird on the totem pole and using that as the icon. Its simple and appears to be mostly line art which means it should look good at small sizes. Plus it reflects the application's name.

    Another idea: Whenever I get a new email, TB's icon has a number on top of it. I'm not sure what it looks like in Windows or other operating systems, but I think the number obscures the icon which further strengthens my argument I noted above: at such a small size I don't think it matters if the icon has more or less feathers and a seal on the envelope as you won't seem them anyway. So incorporate this notification of new messages into the eye of the bird.

  21. Responding to ran's comment from earlier today:

    Sunbird's icon suffers from the same problem as TB's current icon. Too much detail in a very small package. At 48×48 I can't see the individual pages from the calendar, don't really see it as a calendar, don't see the bird's eye too well, and don't recognize that line as the bird's beak.

    I received the post in my inbox and TB can't display the entire email message (its cut off on the right). Hopefully that'll get addressed in 3.0.

  22. ran:
    I'm not really sure of a definitive fusion here, lightning might still be an additional thing to base Thunderbird, but I may be mistaken. However, adding a secondary color other than blue could definitely lighten up the looks.

    well, it's not all about icons, you know. This should be the image of Thunderbird itself. Site graphics, promotion on t-shirt and stuff, large things. If it really were about the icon only, there would be no big deal with the details ;)

  23. "A third row of small feathers. Small feathers are less defined, less bright. No seal. Slightly whiter envelope."

    I think this Thunderbird icon will look great if you place a seal on the envelope.

  24. Well, I just stumbled on the whole redesign thing… so a couple comments from me. The number of feathers in 6 is okay, but the *contrast* of the feathers is much too high (and the feathers in the crest, especially, look conical and not flat, as they should). I also miss the stripes from the previous icon. Technically speaking, the feathers should also overlap horizontally quite a bit; right now they don't overlap at all.

    Finally, as a little detail, the highlighting around the eye is wrong. There needs to be a bit of highlight/shadow around the edge to show the eyelids, otherwise the eye looks like it does not belong to the bird.

    Here's a nice high-resolution picture of a bird that could make a useful reference (just something found with random googling):

  25. I like it. I like to K.I.S.S when it comes to design : Keep It Stupid Simple. Too many feathers and layers make the logo hard to reproduce and memorise. Too many details can sometimes be a bad thing

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