IllustrationFeature

The 40 best Google Doodle designs

From Lego to Les Paul, MC Escher to Dr Seuss, we salute the greatest ever Google Doodles, including illustrations, animations and beyond.

The guys at team Google Doodle are a nice bunch. Not only do they like to say happy birthday to a lot of people and celebrate special occasions, they also create and share some seriously inspiring pieces of illustration and animation in the process. 

Since it all started back in 1998, Google Doodles have gone from strength to strength, progressing from small tweaks of the logo to full-blown illustrations, animations and even interactive games.

As more and more people add Google search bars to their browsers, the ever-inventive Google Doodles give them a continuing reason to visit the Google homepage. Here we salute 40 of the greatest Google doodle designs of the last 14 years.

01. First day of Spring

Google doodles
Google welcomes in the first day of Spring with this adorable animation

Featuring a cute little character watering what seems to be a blank page, the letters of Google rapidly appear with beautiful flowers. This gorgeous little offering got everyone in the mood for the better weather on the first day of Spring 2014. Check out the animation here.

02. St. Patrick's Day

google doodles
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a stained glass window design

On 16 March, Google decided to focus on both the religious and cultural aspects of Ireland's national day with this Google doodle. The beautiful stained glass window also hints at those traditional pubs where the celebrations would be taking place.

03. International Women's Day

This really is one beautiful and inspiring Google doodle. Showcasing an illustrated logo, once the title is clicked, it introduces dozens of women from across the globe celebrating International Women's Day. A rare glimpse into the world of some of the most inspiring women around.

04. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

google doodles
The doves perfectly capture the meaning behind Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This gorgeous illustration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day perfectly captures the freedom he fought for. Showcasing doves - the birds of peace and love - through an open window is a subtle and beautiful way to celebrate one of the biggest figures in history.

05. Valentine's Day

Who doesn't love to receive chocolate on the day of love? This interactive Google doodle allowed anyone to create their own batch of chocolate flavoured treats and snacks to give to their nearest and dearest. It was seriously fun!

06. Sochi Olympics

best google doodles
Google took a stand against Russia's anti-gay laws

Google gave out a very public stand against Russia's anti-gay laws on the eve of the Sochi Olympics with this rainbow version of their iconic logo. The quote from the Olympic Charter at the bottom is a compelling and thought-provoking touch to what will no doubt become an iconic Google Doodle.

07. Robert Moog's 78th birthday

Google Doodles
Google loves to give its users something to play with from time to time

Clicking onto Google and finding something to play with is a treat like no other. This clever little Google Doodle celebrated the birthday of Robert Moog - the man behind the iconic synth. What's more, you can still play with it today!

08. Jules Verne

best google doodles
Dive under and celebrate the birthday of Jules Verne with this Google doodle

Google paid homage to science-fiction writer Jules Verne on what would have been his 183rd birthday. The logo showcased a view of the ocean from a submarine which was clearly inspired by his iconic book 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.' Explore it here.

09. New Years Day 2014

best google doodles
Google welcomed in the New Year with this Google Doodle

The first Google Doodle of 2014 was this hilarious numeral-based illustration. It followed the New Years Eve Google Doodle that saw the 3 in the place of the 4, only to be quickly replaced on the dancefloor. The primary colours are also a really great touch. See it in its animated glory here.

10. Flying Balls

Google's latest interactive doodle caused an explosion of coloured balls that reacted any time your mouse cursor went near it. No explanation was given for the Doodle, but it has been suggested that it could have something to do with real-time search results arriving in the near future.

11. Claude Debussy

 Debussy

The Google Doodle team released one of their most beautiful creations to date to celebrate the 151st anniversary of the French composer Claude Debussy.

The animated Google Doodle features 'Clair de lune', the third and most famous movement of Debussy's 'Suite bergamasquea', as the soundtrack to a very Parisian riverside scene with the backdrop of a windmill, choreographed streetlights and windows and a background cast of balloons, boats, and bicycles.

The scene ends with the romantic image of two silhouetted strangers in separate boats sharing a red umbrella. Click here to see the Google Doodle in full.

12. Tour de France 2013

Google Doodle
Click the image for more information on the Google Doodle

To celebrate the 100th Tour de France, the Google Doodle team developed this elaborate design, depiciting a cyclist sporting a Gallic moustache and Le Tour's famous maillot jaune yellow jersey, with his wheels going like the clappers.

13. Saul Bass's 93rd birthday

The Google Doodle team released one of their most elaborate creations to mark what would have been graphic designer and filmmaker Saul Bass's 93rd birthday.

Google's animated doodle is based some of Bass's best-known designs, including his work on Anatomy of a Murder, The Man with the Golden Arm, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

14. Freddie Mercury

From time to time, the Google Doodle team invite guests to post items of interest and, back in September 2011, Brian May joined them to talk about his friend and bandmate Freddie Mercury.

After this meeting, the team developed this beautiful Google Doodle to celebrate the late singer's 65th birthday. The fitting animation was accompanied by the 1978 Queen classic "Don't Stop Me Now".

15. Charlie Chaplin

The Google Doodle paid tribute to silent film star Charlie Chaplin, with this short video, which celebrated what would've been his 122nd birthday.

Featuring a Chaplin-like actor, the film sees him read a Google newspaper, interacy with a Google logo and attempt to draw a Google Doodle himself, albeit unsuccessfully!

16. 8-bit Winter Wonderland

google doodle
This winter wonderland celebrated the birth of Frank Zamboni

Get your skates on for this brilliant Google doodle! Frank Zamboni, an Italian-American inventor, created the ice resurfacer which has continued to work wonders on the ice rink.

Google's game starts off with some pesky ice-skaters that create marks on the ice; it's your job to smooth things over with your Zamboni ice resurfacer using the arrow keys to navigate. The game then develops into an ice-hockey match that makes those marks even harder to smooth over. This was another highly addictive offering!

17. 150 years of the London Underground

google doodle
A design classic gets the Google Doodle makeover

The London Tube map's original simple yet stunning design was created by an underground electric draughtsman who went by the name of Harry Beck. It has gone on to become one of Britain's design classics and a favourite among designers.

Andy Thomas of HUGE says, "No transport system in the world has anything so immediately recongnisable and iconic, despite its flaws." The early 'infographic' design takes on a new form in this doodle, with the company taking over the colour-focused lines.

18. Winsor McCay's Little Nemo

google doodle
Google's first interactive comic could be our favourite doodle ever

The Creative Bloq team were very excited to discover this Google doodle which celebrated the 107th anniversary of comic artist Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland in serious style. Based on the adventures of a six-year-old boy, the comic-strip first appeared in the New York Herald in 1905 and ran until 1911.

Google's first interactive comic-strip, the design requires users to click a tab at the end of each part of the animation to move on to the next part of the story. Try it here.

19. The Brothers Grimm

google doodle
Google did it again with this inspiring Google Doodle

Google crafted an unbelievably creative Google doodle to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the brothers Grimm. Beginning and ending with an adapted Google logo, the story features a series of stunning illustrations. You can discover the 22 slides by clicking back-and-forth as you please, with the illustrated style showcasing the ever-talented work of Google. Check it out here.

20. A Halloween special

google doodle
A spooky offering for the Google doodle Halloween special

Web giant Google kicked off Halloween 2012 celebrations with an interactive doodle that depicts a spooky street - and it's up to you to decide whether you want to know what's going on behind the doors!

The animation follows the traditional Google doodle form by creating the letters of the company logo when you interact with the scene by clicking your mouse over the doors. An eerie soundtrack also plays in the background, just to get you in the Halloween mood. Try it here.

21. First human in space

Google doodles
Dennis Hwang created this Google doodle to honour the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin

On April 11, 1961, Russian air force pilot Yuri Gagarin blasted off on the first manned space flight in history. To mark the 50th anniversary of this amazing achievement, graphic artist and Google's official chief doodler Dennis Hwang created this beautiful illustrated and interactive Google doodle. With a design reminiscent of Soviet posters, the first 'o' is replaced by the cosmonaut's helmet, and the other a planet, which, when the mouse is placed over it, reveals a rocket blasting off. 

22. JFK 50th anniversary

Google doodles
The Google doodle team created this brilliant illustration in remembrance of John F Kennedy's official inauguration back in 1961

On January 20th 2011, Google's homepage donned this gorgeous typographic illustration to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, which included the immortal line: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." The Google doodle team cleverly took the words from Kennedy's speech and rearranged them to spell out the logo, with the second 'G' featuring a drawing of the former president.

23. Will Eisner

Google doodles
This comic book-inspired doodle was created in memory of graphic artist Will Eisner

Graphic artist and comic writer Will Eisner is widely regarded as the father of the graphic novel. On March 6 last year, the Google doodle team honoured his memory with this awesome logo featuring Eisner's famous character and comic series The Spirit - a detective who comes back from the beyond to fight crime. Appearing in selected countries only, this doodle marked what would have been Eisner's 94th birthday.

24. Amelia Earhart

Google doodles
Google celebrated pioneering female pilot Ameila Earhart with this stunning illustration

On July 24 2012, Google wanted to remind the world of the accomplishments and celebrate the life of pioneering female pilot Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. On what would have been her 115th birthday, the Google team came up with this simple yet stunning image of the aviator standing on an aeroplane, with 'Google' painted on the underside of the wings.

25. Les Paul

Google doodles
The Les Paul Google doodle was created using JavaScript and HTML5

Probably the most well known Google doodle is this playable guitar, which was created to remember the late musician and inventor player Les Paul. Launched on 9 June 2011, it marked what would have been his 96th birthday. The interactive logo was created using a combination of of JavaScript, HTML5 Canvas, CSS, Flash and tools such as the Google Font API, goo.gl and App Engine. Try it here.

26. The royal wedding

Google doodles
Google joined in the royal wedding festivities by laying this illustration on its homepage

Awww. Google commemorated the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton with this illustration depicting a horse-drawn carriage carrying the newlyweds through the streets of London. The image also features drawings of Westminster Abbey and the London Eye in the background. 

27. Robert Doisneau

On April 14 1912, French photographer Robert Doisneau was born. To mark what would have been his 100th birthday, the Google doodle team honoured the pioneer of photojournalism with this gorgeous collage of his work. The doodle shows four photographs by Doisneau: The Tugboat, The Three Children, Dog on Wheels and The Kiss. 

28. Lantern festival

Google doodles
Google lit up its homepage with this beautiful illustration depicting the Lantern Festival

Google's homepages were alight with this special logo in Taiwan and Hong Kong in 2012. The gorgeous illustration was created in order to mark the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first month of China's lunar year to mark the end of celebrations for the Chinese New Year.

29. Google zipper

Google doodles
The Google doodle team utilised HTML5 to create this awesome animated zipper

We had to include this awesome animated zip doodle that we came across earlier this year. Us, like many we're sure, sat and unzipped the Google homepage a few times the day it was launched. Clicking the zipper made the page split in two, revealing the doodle's inspiration: Gideon Sundbäck, the Swedish-American credited with developing the zipper. To create it the Google doodle team utilised HTML5 and the Canvas feature, which allows for dynamic, scriptable rendering of 2D shapes.  

30. John Lennon

Google doodles
John Lennon's 70th birthday was celebrated with Google's first ever animated doodle

October 8, 2010 marked the first ever animated Google doodle, which was a short music video of 'Imagine', to commemorate John Lennon's 70th birthday. The interactive illustration was created by member of the Google Doodle team Mike Dutton who commented on the Google Doodle site: "The old saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words' still rings true, so I hope a moving picture will help me adequately - and simply - thank John for the memories." Try it here.

31. Lunar eclipse

Google doodles
Google marked last year's lunar eclipse by documenting the event (almost) in real-time online

Google covered 2011's much anticipated 100-minute-long lunar eclipse in its own unique way, through this cool interactive doodle. Showing the eclipse in (almost) real-time, astronomy website Slooh provided Google with images from cameras set up in South Africa, Dubai and the Canary Islands, to cover the entire event. So, if people missed the real thing, all they had to do was click on the slider underneath to see it in its full glory. View it here.

32. Charles Dickens 

Google doodles
Mike Dutton created this illustration to celebrate Charles Dickens' 200th birthday

On 7 February 2012, Google celebrated the 200th birthday of classic British author Charles Dickens with this beautiful doodle featuring some of his most best-loved characters, including Scrooge from A Christmas Carol and Pip from Great Expectations. This is another piece from illustrator Mike Dutton, which, when clicked on, led to a Google Books search results page listing Dickens' works.

33. Martha Graham

A particular favourite of ours here at Creative Bloq, this gorgeous animated doodle was created to recognise what would have been the 117th birthday of American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. Featured on the site in May 2011, the tribute features five dancing ladies who spell out the world 'Google' with their movements.

34. Harry Houdini

Google doodles
Google celebrated illusionist Houdini's 137th birthday with this gorgeous vintage-style design

One thing Harry Houdini couldn't escape was time. So Google decided to celebrate the illusionist's 137th birthday in 2011 with this beautiful vintage-style poster, reminiscent of the designs used to promote his shows. The red banner featuring the Google logo includes an image of Houdini himself, holding on to a chain draped around his neck.

35. Burning Man

Google doodles
The first ever Google doodle was created 14 years ago, when the company's founders added a stick man to the logo to tell their audience they were out-of-office

Ok, so you may be wondering why this simple graphic has made it into our list. But we had to include the first ever Google doodle from 1998. The concept of the doodle began when, when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin attended the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert, they placed a stick figure drawing behind the "O" in the logo to let the users know that they were "out of the office." Genius.

36. Pac-Man

Google doodles
Google doodle unveiled its first interactive logo with Pac-Man back in 2010

Video gamers from the '80s were able to relive some 8-bit memories back in 2010 when Google unveiled its first interactive doodle, marking the 30th anniversary of classic arcade game Pac-Man. Google doodler Ryan Germick and senior UX designer and developer Marcin Wichary made sure to include the original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts' individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs (!) from this 1980s masterpiece. Play it here.

37. The Wizard of Oz

Google doodles
Google doodler Mike Dutton created this illustration to celebrate 71 years of the Wizard of Oz

It's not just birthdays that the Google team like to celebrate. In 2010, 71 years after the classic film burst onto screens, they decided to honour the Wizard of Oz with this beautiful illustration. The doodle, also designed by Mike Dutton, uses the lush landscape to spell out the logo and depicts Dorothy Gale with the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Toto the dog as they first spot the majestic Emerald City while on the yellow brick road.

38. Lego

Google doodles
Lego's 50th anniversary was celebrated by the Google team with this awesome doodle

Simple, but effective, this cool Lego design was created to mark the little toy brick's 50th anniversary. Lego art clearly has a special place in Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin's hearts: they apparently used building bricks as the casing for 4GB hard disks, for a server they were making when they were developing the search engine.

39. MC Escher

Google doodles
This black and white design celebrated Dutch graphic artist MC Escher's 105th birthday

We love this beautiful, black and white tribute to Dutch graphic artist MC Escher, known best for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. The Google doodle team hosted this image on the site back in June 2003 to mark the artist's 105th birthday. In order to be instantly recognisable, they picked one of his most famous works, Drawing Hands, to round out the 'O's in the logo. Stunning.

40. Dr Suess

Google doodles
This awesome illustration depicting famous characters was created by the Google team to celebrate Dr Seuss's 105th birthday

Everyone loves Dr Seuss, especially the guys at Google if this doodle is anything to go by. We certainly do!

This is an updated and expanded version of a feature that previously appeared on Creative Bloq.

Words: Sammy Maine

Sammy Maine is staff writer at Creative Bloq.

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