Behind the scenes with Google's Doodle team (photos)

Everyone knows about the special versions of its logo that Google posts from time to time. But how do they come about?

Daniel Terdiman
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
1 of 17 Google

Final Buckyball doodle

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--We've all seen them: the so-dubbed Google "Doodles," the special versions of the company's logo that celebrate holidays and other occasions. But how do the doodles come to be? It turns out that the search giant has a team of "Doodlers."

CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman visited with the Doodle team last month to discuss the creation process and to see several upcoming logos.

One of the doodles in progress was this one, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the discovery of fullerene, the so-called "Buckyball." It was created by team member Jennifer Hom and was published Saturday.

Editors' note, Tuesday 6:13 a.m. PDT: This slideshow has been updated with three new images (Nos. 5-7) that capture the most recent doodle, an interactive one that responds to movements of your mouse cursor.

2 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Drawing Buckyball on whiteboard

Here, during a morning "Doodlers" team meeting, Hom sketches an early draft of the Buckyball concept on a whiteboard. While some doodles are completed in a short period of time--even as quickly as a day--Hom had several weeks to hone this one.
3 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Adding dots

Hom adds some finishing touches to her concept sketch of the Buckyball doodle. In this meeting, she was showing her concept to the team and getting feedback. Later, she would begin working on the actual doodle itself with the digital art tools that all team members use.
4 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Adding digital dots

Here, we see Hom working on her Buckyball doodle sketch on the Wacom tablet that she and the rest of the team use. With this tool, she can quickly add and subtract subtle details.
5 of 17 Jonathan Skillings/CNET

Bubble doodle, undisturbed

On Tuesday, September 7, Google got playful with its doodle--or perhaps "bubbly" might be a better word. This doodle is interactive, so if you move your mouse cursor toward it....
6 of 17 Jonathan Skillings/CNET

Bubble doodle, poked

...you set the bubbles in motion. This is a gentle poke at the logo from some distance away.
7 of 17 Jonathan Skillings/CNET

Bubble doodle, scattered

A more forceful jab at the doodle sends the bubbles scattering every which way and obliterates the "Google" for a few seconds, until the bubbles return to their starting point.
8 of 17 Google

August Bournoville's 205th birthday

Another in-progress doodle that the team discussed during their meeting was this one, which ran in Denmark on August 21. It celebrates the 205th birthday of August Bournoville, who was famous for his choreography and dancing in the Royal Danish Ballet.
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Bournoville concept

This is an early concept sketch of the August Bournoville doodle.
10 of 17 Google

Russian space dogs

On August 19, Russia celebrated the 50th anniversary of the space flight of Belka and Stelka, the first two animals ever sent into space that came back alive. To commemorate the occasion, Google posted this doodle in Russia that day.
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Space dogs draft

This is an early draft of the August 19 doodle celebrating the 50th anniversary of Belka and Strelka. It is very similar to the final version. But if you look closely, you can see small differences.
12 of 17 Google

Larry and Sergey at Burning Man

The Google Doodle got its start in the summer of 1998 when the search giant's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decided to modify the site's logo to indicate that they had headed off to Burning Man, an annual festival held in the Nevada desert.
13 of 17 Google

Sesame Street doogle

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the PBS show "Sesame Street" last year, Google created a week's worth of special logos linked to the show. In addition to versions that ran globally, the company also produced versions specific to various countries.

This is the image that ran at the end of that week, after days of doodles that celebrated individual characters from the show.

14 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The wall

Google has been running an internal competition to see which group can come up with the best version of its corporate logo. Naturally, the Doodle team came up with something special: this design, which is on the wall in the team's office area. The competition was not yet over at the time of this writing.
15 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

E=MC squared

All around the Doodle offices are printed versions of team members' favorite creations. This one, celebrating Albert Einstein's birthday, ran on March 14, 2003.
16 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Doodle for Google

Google runs an annual competition called "Doodle 4 Google," in which the company tasks K-12 students with creating their own versions of its logo. The public votes on a winner.

The challenge? "To work their artistic will upon our homepage logo."

This is the winner from an Australian version of the contest.

17 of 17 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Four doodles

On the walls of the team's offices, there are numerous print-outs of past creations. Here are four of them.

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