Lim Chee Aun

Conceptual Firefox

Mozilla Firefox's About dialog, showing the conceptual Firefox logo instead

Oh no, my right hand gets itchy again. That means I need to draw something. Anything, as long as it's art. If there's a paper and pencil around, my hand will self-react to reach them and draw anything that runs through my eyesight. But if there's a computer and a mouse around, my hand will do the same too, drawing digital art instead. That is what happening to me.

I caught a glimpse of the Firefox icon. It just looks so beautiful. I was curious how it was done in the first place, so I point my browser to Jon Hicks's Branding Firefox page. I've sent an email to Jon, asking if he could sent me the source files of the Firefox logo. He replied that he's not allowed to hand out source files. Okay, but how about the other Firefox logo? If you read carefully on his page, Jon made a conceptual logo, inspired by a Japanese brush painting of a fox, which was not chosen by the developers and replaced by the current Firefox logo that everyone is seeing.

Since this logo has been, sort of, rejected, I thought I can have some fun manipulating the logo, like how I used to do with the Winstripe 0.1 icons. This time, I didn't ask for the source file because I expect Jon might have deleted it anyway. I took few minutes to sketch the vectors out of the logo. Jon uses Macromedia Fireworks MX, but I use Xara X instead. The colour palette and gradient effects are pretty basic and easy to be done.

Conceptual Firefox icons in various sizes

After applying some finishing touches to the shadows, the icon is done. It looks 99% similar to the original artwork. The smaller icons are slightly modified to be visually clearer, especially on the eyes. If you see carefully, the shadows are actually shifted to the bottom left instead of bottom right. At first, I don't understand why it's like that because Windows XP icons have shadows at the bottom right. Later I found out that the purpose is actually to make the yellow tail more visible on light backgrounds.

Windows taskbar, containing the Start menu and the Quick Launch bar, showing the 'Show Desktop', conceptual Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Thunderbird and Opera icons

I'm not sure if this icon can blend well in the Windows XP environment, so I try putting it together with icons of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and Opera on the taskbar. Well, it looks perfect, even better than I thought. It appears a bit larger, too.

Y'z Dock, showing the conceptual Firefox icon with other icons

Then, I wonder how well would it blend in the Mac OS environment. I may not have access to any Macs, but I still have M.Yamaguchi's Y'z Dock software on my hard drive. I supposed it should emulate Mac OSX's dock. I tried it and the icon looks quite inconsistent and flat since it doesn't follow much of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, such as the icon perspectives and materials. It also lacks the realism and depth of shadows. Maybe it was designed with Windows in mind? How about KDE and Gnome? Sigh.

my desktop with conceptual Firefox logos all over, complete with icons and a wallpaper

My hand moved vigorously, drawing even more stuff, like a document icon and a wallpaper. I imagine what would a Firefox fan's desktop look like, in addition to these artwork? So, I changed the wallpaper, switched the default icons, replaced my Windows XP user account picture and substituted the default logo in Mozilla Firefox's About dialog. The result is a crazy person who is madly in love with Firefox. Okay, I'm not that crazy. The screenshots here are only illustrations of what might happen if this logo was chosen instead.

After creating this artwork, I asked myself, should I distribute them? My left brain gives me a positive answer but somehow my right brain seems undecided. I asked Jon, again, and his reply surprised me. This logo is owned by Mozilla too! He also wrote that several others have wanted to use it before me, and they've been refused, so the rule applies to me as well. Eventhough I create the logo from scratch, its concept originates from Jon. I am unfortunately unable to distribute it to the Firefox community. It's a pity to know that this fine logo is not used by the developers yet its derivation cannot be publicised. Anyone cannot use it, except the Mozilla Foundation. Anyone couldn't see the icons in action, except myself, I think.

It's just stuck there.

Finally, my right hand doesn't feel itchy anymore. It will take another next few weeks before this happens to me again.