I'm planning on releasing SwitchList, an open-source model railroad program, on the Apple Mac App Store as a free app. I'd like to get a more professional looking icon to represent the program. I need a 512x512 icon suitable for the store, and a 128x128 icon suitable for the Dock, derived from the same conceptual image.
I'd prefer to match Apple Human Interface Guidelines - generally realistic images on a transparent background, perspective or 3d, with colors that will stand out on the Dock with a light or dark backdrop. I'd prefer *not* to have an icon on a rounded corner frame - that would be appropriate for iPhone, but not for the Mac App Store. Icon should be all-picture, and without text in the typical Mac app icon style.
SwitchList is for serious model railroaders who want to run their model railroad layout like a real railroad - think Dungeons and Dragons for model trains. It automatically generates realistic switchlists - lists of where different freight cars need to move - to let the crews running trains simulate real jobs. SwitchList can generate several different styles of switchlists ranging from hand-written lists on official forms to computer-generated dot-matrix lists that modern railroads use. I've attached one photo of a handwritten switch list from the 1950's.
Useful metaphors for the icon would be
* freight cars / boxcars as the objects being manipulated. I've used a side photo of a boxcar as a logo in the past. (See current icon.jpg)
* switch crews actually switching the boxcars (see photo). A switchman hanging on a car (either realistic or in silhouette) could both convey action and express what the program's for. (see train.jpg or http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_DrTowL4cK…h-ney.jpg)
* the switchlists themselves (see 1950's switchlist.jpg) No idea how to make such an icon identifiable.
* switchman's lantern (or railroad crewman swinging lantern) The lantern was a common symbol - every switchman had them to signal to an engineer in the distance when to move the train. There were explicit signals for waving the lantern.
Photos on both pages could inspire a logo based on abstract figure hanging on a boxcar with the lantern showing the strong color.
Because switch lists are not as used in the modern day, I'd prefer train images should be older (1960's and before, even 1920's and 1930's) rather than modern. Preferred colors would be red oxide / red / brown ("boxcar red") colors, yellowed paper, darker colors for the dirt and grease that goes along with railroading. 1930's poster art (such as 1920's advertising and WPA posters) might also be an inspiration.
The website for the open-source project is here: