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Starship Krupa

Methods to the madness

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I want to post some musings about the concepts that are behind my themes. I'm also interested to hear from other .STH Lords about what thought processes go into your theme creations.

I get the idea that, given the polite lack of enthusiasm shown for my "novelty" themes, EVA 01 and Yellow Submarine, most of the regular posters in this forum have a hard time imagining why anyone would use such "loud" themes. They do get more appreciation on Facebook.

There are a few ideas behind them. First, it's a fun challenge for me, to try to capture the feel of a pop culture icon such as the Yellow Submarine. It's taken my themesmanship to a new level. The fist theme I saw that included pop culture references was @Colin Nicholls' Steam Punk, which lit a big lightbulb: a theme doesn't have to solely be about usability, it can also be fun. Steam Punk is a fun theme, it creates a mood.

Second, EVA 01 was designed not only with the pop culture source in mind, but also to inspire alertness and focus (which I've been told by a Facebooker that it does). This is a different intention from most themes, where the idea seems to be that the UI should fade into the background. But I don't always want it to fade into the background. When I'm working late at night on EDM, it kind of puts me in the mood to make the bangin' festival beats. Which brings us to....

Third, and this is something that only occurred to me after I got started, if someone's using Cakewalk to play live, a brightly-colored contrasty theme like EVA 01 makes everything more visible, and, if they are projecting their laptop screen so that their moves are visible to the audience, well, that's more visual excitement and coolness. It looks so unusual. I think that Cakewalk with EVA 01 looks more exciting than Ableton Live.

As far as I know, the only other DAW that even has the feature of skinning is REAPER.

Care to share what thought processes go into your own themes?

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27 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

Steam Punk, which lit a big lightbulb: a theme doesn't have to solely be about usability

Uh, thanks for "solely" 😄

29 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

Care to share what thought processes go into your own themes?

Well, since you asked,

It's all about usability, and preventing boredom. For me, it also needs to dissolve into the background. I don't want to be reminded of what theme I'm using, it needs to be invisible, whilst still providing a comfortable working environment. That means consistency, and for me, the best way to be consistent is to chose some constraints, and get creative within the constraints (works for music creation too). The constraints vary.

STEAM PUNK was just me exploring theming for the first time, and deciding half-way along that I needed a goal, and it looked, well, steam-punky.

POLAR BLUE 2020 is really SteveC's work, I just gave it a polish for my own entertainment. I learned some stuff.

TUNGSTEN SLATE was a second attempt, this time starting from Tungsten but warming it up slightly, giving it a slate-blue flavor. I learned some more stuff.

MIL-SPEC ALPHA was an attempt to make a mid-tone flat theme somewhat inspired by Ableton, avoiding "all grey and no play" and ending up in a khaki zone, hence the vibe.

For FLAT WHITE it was, "how far can I go in taking MIL-SPEC ALPHA and making a really "light" theme?"

For FLIGHT DECK I really wasn't planning on creating another theme. It was seeing a screen shot of an aircraft interior in MS Flight Sim 2020 and thinking, "that looks comfortable, like it would be hard to do the wrong thing".

I have no plans for more themes. (I was considering 1960's NASA but it would just end up somewhere near MIL-SPEC ALPHA and FLIGHT DECK so I don't see the point)

 

Honestly, I find myself switching between FLIGHT DECK and MIL-SPEC ALPHA every other week. Or FLAT WHITE (matcha).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aesthetics & creative outlet-ry.

Actually, DP10 & Mixcraft have theme-able GUIs too.

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2 hours ago, sjoens said:

DP10 & Mixcraft have theme-able GUIs too

Cool, I wasn't even aware that Mixcraft had implemented this. Is it official, or do you just go to the mixrez folder and start editing?

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Yes. But edit at your own risk. It's a bit complicated (especially if you want several themes) but doable.

MC9 has an updated theme with an MC8 style theme option. 

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On 7/10/2021 at 2:21 PM, Colin Nicholls said:

That means consistency, and for me, the best way to be consistent is to chose some constraints, and get creative within the constraints (works for music creation too). The constraints vary.

STEAM PUNK was just me exploring theming for the first time, and deciding half-way along that I needed a goal

I've been writing up a list of suggestions for beginners, and I think defining a goal is important. What am I going for with this? That's why the pop culture vibe works for me: I want it to look like the dashboard of a sports car, or a favorite album cover, or an anime franchise. Picking something that already has a color scheme that I find appealing.

Along with that comes defining half a dozen colors and making a note of their hex numbers. Racing Green is comparatively easy in that regard, it's 3 shades of green, Tungsten dark brown, and black. It was once I got away from my menus being light text on a virtually black  background that things got way stickier. If your menu images and borders are light grey or dark, you can choose a single contrast color and be done with it. If on the other hand your menus are purple, blue, or yellow, then you need to find a color that's readable on that, which ain't always easy.

You always want to have that list of colors at hand for when you find yet another UI element that needs to be changed to fit your theme. Otherwise, you wind up eyeballing it, which can result in inconsistency.

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