Old 02-24-2019, 04:32 AM   #1
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Default New Themes: Need Opinions

I've been working on some simple theme variations based off of the WIP Default_5.0_HiDPI theme...

Thank you, White Tie!

The themes have dark backgrounds with muted colors and bright active elements. Everything looks good to me on my PC monitor and Laptop.

I know asking for opinions can be dangerous B) But, I thought I'd stick my neck out for once!

My questions for users who like dark themes:
  • Are the themes too dark?
  • Too much contrast?
  • Thoughts / advice from the theming experts?

Update: 2/25/19

I made some progress thanks to White Tie's wisdom and Lucas_LCS's suggestion...
  • I brightened the main background / arrange / MIDI editor and dark background elements a small amount.
  • I darkened some of the brighter elements (Media Item Peaks, etc...) a small amount.
  • I made the Mute / Solo / Automation and Phase button text solid.

This seems to have brought me closer to what I'm trying to achieve.

Update: 2/27/19

New Images:
  • Default gray for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Compact' TCP / Master TCP layouts
  • 'Strip' MCP / Master MCP layouts
  • Folder tracks minimized
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences



  • Selected blue for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Fader' TCP / Master TCP layouts
  • 'Strip Fader' MCP / Master MCP layouts
  • Folder tracks full size
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences



  • Selected colors (that match fader colors) for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Fader' MCP / Master MCP layouts with colored faders
  • Ext Mixer displayed
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences

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Last edited by +NRG; 02-27-2019 at 06:54 AM. Reason: Updates
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Old 02-24-2019, 07:13 AM   #2
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I have a policy of staying out of people's theme threads, because I prefer not to muddy the waters between objective technical theme making matters (not to put too fine a point on it, I'm probably correct) and subjective design opinion (my subjective opinion is no more valid than anyone else's. I don't actually believe this, but I pretend to on the internet )

...but since you asked...

I think its a very good idea you are starting with the def theme, because its super-responsive walter is going to give the most flexibility to the end user. Its also a very bad idea, because less people will even try your theme since it will probably look inferior in screenshots to static themes that have leveraged the lack of movement to make things look more awesome at the cost of flexibility for the user. You have made the grown-up choice, but be aware of the cost.

I would remind you, in the strongest terms, that the current HiDPI functionality is experimental. Its going to change. When it changes it might break your theme, and at that point in the future you might not have the time or patience to do the necessary fix-ups. You have been warned!!

There's almost no point asking the community at large about your brightness. The variables are:
  1. The user's subjective brightness preference.
  2. The user's eyesight.
  3. The brightness setting of the user's screen.
  4. The brightness of the user's room.

Variables 1 and 2 vary a bit, and those who like dark themes will say so, those that don't will say otherwise. So you'll have learned nothing But, far more importantly, variables 3 and 4 vary enormously, so much as to almost make variables 1 and 2 not worth considering. Without going into a long technical conversation about nits and perception of brightness, the range of emitted light and the contrast with the room its in is so potentially huge that its impossible for you to make allowances for it. You just have to aim in the middle.

The same also applies to contrast, though with the proviso that if you contrast is too low then there's little the user can do to compensate for it. Decide on the contrast range for you design, make a rough design or mockup that you are happy with and look at it in as many different settings as possible, and if you are still happy with it then from then on stick to your guns. Your eyes and those around you will, not incorrectly, forever make you doubt your initial contrast decisions. There's no 100% right answer (see variables 1-4) so your best bet is to choose a good path and follow it.

On that subject, be very wary of various pseudo-scientific efforts that have been made to codify the 'correct levels of contrast'; you can read about these all over the internet. Use them only as much as they are useful to you; every one that I have seen is based on assumptions that are bigger than the problem they are trying to solve (again, see variables 1-4).

I would say there appears to be a discrepancy between the contrast levels of your different elements; I'm not sure if that's intentional.

My last comment would be this: making all the controls look as much like each other as possible will make your theme appear the most appealing as a whole; thumbs up for the screenshot win. Making all the controls look as different as possible will make your theme the most functionally successful because your user will spend the least time looking for the control they want at any time, and if you did a full usability test then thumbs up for a big win on that. But no one would use your theme because it would be quite staggeringly ugly. So, you have to somehow make everything look the same, but also very different. Good luck
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Old 02-24-2019, 08:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Tie View Post
I have a policy of staying out of people's theme threads, because I prefer not to muddy the waters between objective technical theme making matters (not to put too fine a point on it, I'm probably correct) and subjective design opinion (my subjective opinion is no more valid than anyone else's. I don't actually believe this, but I pretend to on the internet )

...but since you asked...

I think its a very good idea you are starting with the def theme, because its super-responsive walter is going to give the most flexibility to the end user. Its also a very bad idea, because less people will even try your theme since it will probably look inferior in screenshots to static themes that have leveraged the lack of movement to make things look more awesome at the cost of flexibility for the user. You have made the grown-up choice, but be aware of the cost.

I would remind you, in the strongest terms, that the current HiDPI functionality is experimental. Its going to change. When it changes it might break your theme, and at that point in the future you might not have the time or patience to do the necessary fix-ups. You have been warned!!

There's almost no point asking the community at large about your brightness. The variables are:
  1. The user's subjective brightness preference.
  2. The user's eyesight.
  3. The brightness setting of the user's screen.
  4. The brightness of the user's room.

Variables 1 and 2 vary a bit, and those who like dark themes will say so, those that don't will say otherwise. So you'll have learned nothing But, far more importantly, variables 3 and 4 vary enormously, so much as to almost make variables 1 and 2 not worth considering. Without going into a long technical conversation about nits and perception of brightness, the range of emitted light and the contrast with the room its in is so potentially huge that its impossible for you to make allowances for it. You just have to aim in the middle.

The same also applies to contrast, though with the proviso that if you contrast is too low then there's little the user can do to compensate for it. Decide on the contrast range for you design, make a rough design or mockup that you are happy with and look at it in as many different settings as possible, and if you are still happy with it then from then on stick to your guns. Your eyes and those around you will, not incorrectly, forever make you doubt your initial contrast decisions. There's no 100% right answer (see variables 1-4) so your best bet is to choose a good path and follow it.

On that subject, be very wary of various pseudo-scientific efforts that have been made to codify the 'correct levels of contrast'; you can read about these all over the internet. Use them only as much as they are useful to you; every one that I have seen is based on assumptions that are bigger than the problem they are trying to solve (again, see variables 1-4).

I would say there appears to be a discrepancy between the contrast levels of your different elements; I'm not sure if that's intentional.

My last comment would be this: making all the controls look as much like each other as possible will make your theme appear the most appealing as a whole; thumbs up for the screenshot win. Making all the controls look as different as possible will make your theme the most functionally successful because your user will spend the least time looking for the control they want at any time, and if you did a full usability test then thumbs up for a big win on that. But no one would use your theme because it would be quite staggeringly ugly. So, you have to somehow make everything look the same, but also very different. Good luck

Hi White Tie

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom! You are a true artist!

Lots to take in and ponder...

I realize that HiDPI is experimental and look forward to things being broken! I’m not even using a HiDPI monitor (27” 1920x1080) but just love the clarity and large size.

This is really just for my taste & needs. Simple / stripped-down / minimal text...

Your built-in instructions made it pretty easy to make the little changes I needed. I’m a noob in this realm and have much to learn... As I learn more, I may put your more complex ideas to use.

Some of the most difficult things for me were making the elements and choosing colors! That’s why I went with the KISS method and will change things as my knowledge grows... Talk about science and art rolled into one!

I realized asking for opinions on such matters (contrast, etc...) was probably going to be a fruitless endeavor but hoped some experienced theming folks would chime in. I didn’t expect you to respond so my post is already a win. B)

Thanks for your time!
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:34 PM   #4
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everything looks OK to me.
you know I love the race car faders.
The only suggestion I will make is to change the button letters to solid instead outlines.
It's hard to read the M and S. The A and P are easier, but still takes a moment to register.
I think the solid letters would also make it look a bit cleaner or less busy.
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Old 02-24-2019, 06:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lucas_LCS View Post
everything looks OK to me.
you know I love the race car faders.
The only suggestion I will make is to change the button letters to solid instead outlines.
It's hard to read the M and S. The A and P are easier, but still takes a moment to register.
I think the solid letters would also make it look a bit cleaner or less busy.
Hi Lucas,

Thanks for your thoughts!

I’ve gone back and forth on the solid vs outline for the Mute, Solo, Automation & Phase elements. I’ll give that another shot! I definitely want clean / clear and less busy...

Thank you!
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Old 02-25-2019, 06:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by +NRG View Post
Hi Lucas,

Thanks for your thoughts!

I’ve gone back and forth on the solid vs outline for the Mute, Solo, Automation & Phase elements. I’ll give that another shot! I definitely want clean / clear and less busy...

Thank you!
I like dark themes, but this isn't really to my taste. I like very minimalistic setups. Personally I don't like the blue, but that's just me.

For me personally, it's too in your face. But perhaps that's your aim?

Well done for your efforts tho and I'm sure there will be plenty users wanting it. Don't be dismayed by my comments, you've done a great job!
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Old 02-25-2019, 07:16 AM   #7
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White Tie!

I thought a lot about what you wrote... Specifically:

"The variables are:

The user's subjective brightness preference.
The user's eyesight.
The brightness setting of the user's screen.
The brightness of the user's room.


Variables 1 and 2 vary a bit, and those who like dark themes will say so, those that don't will say otherwise. So you'll have learned nothing But, far more importantly, variables 3 and 4 vary enormously, so much as to almost make variables 1 and 2 not worth considering. Without going into a long technical conversation about nits and perception of brightness, the range of emitted light and the contrast with the room its in is so potentially huge that its impossible for you to make allowances for it. You just have to aim in the middle.

The same also applies to contrast, though with the proviso that if you contrast is too low then there's little the user can do to compensate for it. Decide on the contrast range for you design, make a rough design or mockup that you are happy with and look at it in as many different settings as possible, and if you are still happy with it then from then on stick to your guns. Your eyes and those around you will, not incorrectly, forever make you doubt your initial contrast decisions. There's no 100% right answer (see variables 1-4) so your best bet is to choose a good path and follow it.

On that subject, be very wary of various pseudo-scientific efforts that have been made to codify the 'correct levels of contrast'; you can read about these all over the internet. Use them only as much as they are useful to you; every one that I have seen is based on assumptions that are bigger than the problem they are trying to solve (again, see variables 1-4)."




That was very helpful and actually comforting! B)



This section gave me some things to aim for and a reality check!

"if you contrast is too low then there's little the user can do to compensate for it. Decide on the contrast range for you design, make a rough design or mockup that you are happy with and look at it in as many different settings as possible, and if you are still happy with it then from then on stick to your guns. Your eyes and those around you will, not incorrectly, forever make you doubt your initial contrast decisions. There's no 100% right answer (see variables 1-4) so your best bet is to choose a good path and follow it."



So, I went to work and I think I figured out what was bugging me...

I brightened the main background and dark background elements a small amount and darkened some of the brighter elements (Media Item Peaks) a small amount. That made everything fall into place for me.

Now I can work on fine tuning the look of the various elements and replacing placeholder images.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-25-2019, 07:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucas_LCS View Post
everything looks OK to me.
you know I love the race car faders.
The only suggestion I will make is to change the button letters to solid instead outlines.
It's hard to read the M and S. The A and P are easier, but still takes a moment to register.
I think the solid letters would also make it look a bit cleaner or less busy.
Hi Lucas,

I made the M / S / A / P letters solid and it looks so much better! Thanks for the suggestion!

Here's a screenshot:

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Old 02-25-2019, 07:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by sl23 View Post
I like dark themes, but this isn't really to my taste. I like very minimalistic setups. Personally I don't like the blue, but that's just me.

For me personally, it's too in your face. But perhaps that's your aim?

Well done for your efforts tho and I'm sure there will be plenty users wanting it. Don't be dismayed by my comments, you've done a great job!
Hi sl23,

I prefer honesty! B) No problems if this theme doesn't work for you.

I'm a noob at this and I'm enjoying a new way to be creative. And, I've got a lot to learn...

I do like the blue but it's actually designed to use whatever color you want... Sometimes I like things to be 'in-your-face' and sometimes I like things subdued. It's good to have choices!

Here's a screenshot of the same theme (updated) with gray selected instead of the blue (this just may be the default color!):



Thanks for your time!
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Old 02-25-2019, 09:42 AM   #10
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Great job!
I do like the grey better to be honest.

I may just try it out when you release it.

You've done brilliantly, is this your first theme? I looked into making my own, but got disheartened with the time needed to learn it's complexities!

Though, if I get time I may edit a theme graphically to more suit my taste. Even so, there are three fantastic themes I like. Only one of which is currently available, so I may try that one

First, I attempted to edit the flogic theme, but moving stuff was a task! Though I made some more likeable buttons
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:19 PM   #11
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Great job!
I do like the grey better to be honest.

I may just try it out when you release it.

You've done brilliantly, is this your first theme? I looked into making my own, but got disheartened with the time needed to learn it's complexities!

Though, if I get time I may edit a theme graphically to more suit my taste. Even so, there are three fantastic themes I like. Only one of which is currently available, so I may try that one

First, I attempted to edit the flogic theme, but moving stuff was a task! Though I made some more likeable buttons
I started messing around with theme tweaking (I’m not really a themer) in the V5 pre-release cycle. Changing colors to my liking, editing images... White Tie included some instructions in the rtconfig of the V5 Default theme that made it easy to make simple changes. He also included the ‘Flow’ for the TCP, Master TCP, EnvCP & MCP Strip layouts. With the ‘Flow’ it’s easy to rearrange elements because you order them by number (1-15 for example).

I enjoy creating image elements and color selection. Also, playing with transparencies in the elements so that as the track background color is changed the inactive elements / outlines, etc... change as well!

REAPER rules! Good luck to you!
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:26 PM   #12
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Looks fantastic.I love it
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:29 PM   #13
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Looks fantastic.I love it
Thank you! B) More to do...
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Old 02-25-2019, 01:14 PM   #14
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Hi Lucas,

I made the M / S / A / P letters solid and it looks so much better! Thanks for the suggestion!
You're welcome.
looks good to me.
Curious if you tried a headphone symbol instead of a speaker symbol for the monitor button.
The speaker is good, I was just thinking the style might also lend itself well to headphone graphic.
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:30 PM   #15
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You're welcome.
looks good to me.
Curious if you tried a headphone symbol instead of a speaker symbol for the monitor button.
The speaker is good, I was just thinking the style might also lend itself well to headphone graphic.
You have some great ideas! The speaker symbol is just a placeholder for the rec monitor button. It’s really meant for the mono button on the master track.

I was just trying to design a headphone symbol for the rec monitor button using the same simple / square style with no luck... I’m trying to keep things consistent. It seems like it should be easy but...
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Old 02-26-2019, 11:01 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by +NRG View Post
I've been working on some simple theme variations based off of the WIP Default_5.0_HiDPI theme...
I really like this stuff. they seem like they have roots in your 'snow day' theme and others I saw last year or the year before. These are definately a departure from anything else out there. +1 on the race cars....
I actually love the tcp the most, how everything has its spot and everything is squared off. I may align things in a TCP layout for my new theme likewise.

Thanx for this.
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Old 02-27-2019, 03:05 AM   #17
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I really like this stuff. they seem like they have roots in your 'snow day' theme and others I saw last year or the year before. These are definately a departure from anything else out there. +1 on the race cars....
I actually love the tcp the most, how everything has its spot and everything is squared off. I may align things in a TCP layout for my new theme likewise.

Thanx for this.
Never
Hi Never,

Thanks for taking a look! I really appreciate it!

Yes, as you know I’ve been messing with theming for a while. Trying to learn and figure out what I like and how to achieve those results (easier said than done!!!).

I discovered that:
  • I like things big.
  • I like things square. It looks cleaner / clearer to me (but on the other hand is also less artistic).
  • I like playing with transparency in the elements / outlines / backgrounds and how that affects the look / feel of the session depending on the choice of color and desired mood.
  • I wanted to use the same elements, spacing, alignments and arrangements in the TCP / Master TCP / MCP / Master MCP layouts wherever possible. I love synergy... Or, maybe OCD B)
For example the MCP Strip layouts look like a minimized TCP layout standing on its head.

FYI: There will be a version with normal faders (same exact dimensions as the slot cars).

*I’m almost done and will start a new thread at that time. I don’t expect my themes to work for many users but may give someone an idea or spark for their own creation.

I’m thinking of going with ‘Stealth & Stealth GT for the theme names. With a default gray track / media item background color with the option to get color crazy if desired.

*I know you’re busy with your own project but do you mind if I send you a copy to check out? Just pop it up on your screen and look to see if anything looks wrong / broken.

Thanks for your continued help and support!
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:03 AM   #18
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Update: 2/27/19 (Updated OP as well...)

New Images:
  • Default gray for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Compact' TCP / Master TCP layouts
  • 'Strip' MCP / Master MCP layouts
  • Folder tracks minimized
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences



  • Selected blue for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Fader' TCP / Master TCP layouts
  • 'Strip Fader' MCP / Master MCP layouts
  • Folder tracks full size
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences



  • Selected colors (that match fader colors) for track / media item backgrounds
  • 'Fader' MCP / Master MCP layouts with colored faders
  • Ext Mixer displayed
  • 'Show dB scales on track meters' selected in Preferences

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Old 02-27-2019, 11:51 AM   #19
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Hi Never,

Thanks for taking a look! I really appreciate it!

Yes, as you know I’ve been messing with theming for a while. Trying to learn and figure out what I like and how to achieve those results (easier said than done!!!).

I discovered that:
  • I like things big.
  • I like things square. It looks cleaner / clearer to me (but on the other hand is also less artistic).
  • I like playing with transparency in the elements / outlines / backgrounds and how that affects the look / feel of the session depending on the choice of color and desired mood.
  • I wanted to use the same elements, spacing, alignments and arrangements in the TCP / Master TCP / MCP / Master MCP layouts wherever possible. I love synergy... Or, maybe OCD B)
For example the MCP Strip layouts look like a minimized TCP layout standing on its head.

FYI: There will be a version with normal faders (same exact dimensions as the slot cars).

*I’m almost done and will start a new thread at that time. I don’t expect my themes to work for many users but may give someone an idea or spark for their own creation.

I’m thinking of going with ‘Stealth & Stealth GT for the theme names. With a default gray track / media item background color with the option to get color crazy if desired.

*I know you’re busy with your own project but do you mind if I send you a copy to check out? Just pop it up on your screen and look to see if anything looks wrong / broken.

Thanks for your continued help and support!
Of course I will always do what I can I enjoy your stuff!!
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:59 PM   #20
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Of course I will always do what I can I enjoy your stuff!!
Hi Never,

Package sent!

Some image elements are still placeholders until I figure out what I want to use...

Thank you! B)
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:12 AM   #21
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I Started a new thread for the released 'Stealth' & 'Stealth GT' themes!

Thank you for the helping hand!

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=217825
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