Designing the Mammoth Icon

By Matthew Skiles

Hey there! I’m Matthew Skiles, and I design app icons. I design lots of other things as well, but we’re not here to talk about those today are we 🙈 We’re here to talk about app icons, and the Mammoth app icon in particular.

When I was first contacted by Shihab and Bart about working with them on creating an icon for their upcoming Mastodon app called Mammoth, I was immediately excited. Not only did I want to get a chance to work with them both. I had just recently joined Mastodon like many others in the tech community, and saw that they were in desperate need of some better 3rd party apps.

Before we even had discussed anything about the project, the name Mammoth was springing forth lots of fun imagery of Mammoths and I was eager to see how I could work those ideas into an app icon.

Shortly there after I jumped on a call with the team. They laid out their vision for the app and what the team was building. And we discussed all the fun details of tone, style and generally what we thought would be a good starting place for ideas.

Getting Started

Some of the initial directions we explored were an “M” that was combined with a Mammoth, a full body Mammoth, part of a Mammoth, and even the idea of a Moth.

After that, a few of those initial ideas were selected to be more fully fleshed out, to see how there were feeling.

Most people seemed to really gravitate towards the third option. Personally I had a soft spot for the first one.

Further Exploration

After reviewing the above set, the team wanted to explore some more options to see what else interesting would bubble up. I created a new round of designs, including some more “out there” options this time, just to see what might start to form.

From this round of explorations, the furry “M” and solid Mammoth shapes were leading the pack.

We then added more variations of those ideas and tested them out with some different color palettes.

Narrowing our Focus

After all those, we started narrowing in on what would become the final design. We had three main directions that were dubbed, “Chunky Guy”, “Baby Mammoth” and “Furry M”.

For the Chunky Guy, we went back and forth on whether he should be rounded or more squared off.

And with the Baby Mammoth, I wanted to try out some different trunk placements to see if it made him a little less cute and more serious.

Nearing the End

The consensus from the team was the general direction of Chunky Guy was the winner. We did just a little more exploration of the body shape and eye design.

At this point the design was handed off to the Mammoth team, and they did one final pass of tweaks to create the final incarnation of the Mammoth icon that you see today.