Old 03-12-2016, 06:09 AM   #1
pinksoir
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Default V5 THEME: REA-2-D (in progress)

A little something I'm working on. There's obviously a lot of great themes doing the rounds but I was inspired by the flat/2D preview Pyerbass gave of his analog API V5 and I decided to make something based on that flat aesthetic. I like the 'flat' style themes but there's none that really take on a 'console' type approach. My most used theme in my home studio was White Tie's Imperial and you can see the influence of that on this theme. But I found that, while it's great to look at, it gets tiring during use because of all the 3D stuff, shadows, highlights, gradients, text on the elements and so on. It can be difficult to find what I'm looking for and can lead to eye strain from time to time. I've found this even more so since I've emigrated and currently only have a laptop to work on (even though it's 1080p).

I think a theme should be low contrast enough so that it isn't fatiguing on the eyes, and also so that it's just sort of 'there' and not too much of a feature in the monitor. FX and VSTis shouldn't have to fight with it for visual focus - they should pop right out once they're selected.

Since I've been using just one monitor now for a month or so I've been starting to use the docker. So I found it necessary for the MCP to be resizeable - what you see here can be totally resized and all elements remain in the same places until it reaches a minimal height.

I also want my theme to have that console type vibe going on. So what sort of stuff did I have in mind in designing this?

1) Buttons should be clear and there should be a minimum of excess text and non-clickable stuff.

2) No 3D effects, LED glow, highlights, shadows, or other stuff that makes it feel like anything but a GUI. I find 3D stuff tiring on the eyes for long periods of time.

Well this didn't quite work out. There is some subtle 3D but kept to a minimum.

3) No ugly gradients. There's enough out there already.

5) Low contrast, neutral, but still interesting.

6) Elements neither too big or too small. This should work best on a 1080p (or thereabouts) laptop or smaller screen.

7) All buttons and elements should be visible at all times (when the MCP is in its minimal state, all the other elements/buttons are available in the TCP).

8) MCP must be resizeable - no static backgrounds or fixed heights on stuff.

9) It should look cool! I like consoles, hence the vaguely console vibe.


It's still in development but I'm nearly done. Feedback welcome!

UPDATE 15-04-16




Last edited by pinksoir; 04-15-2016 at 02:00 AM.
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:26 AM   #2
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Very cool! I will definitely rock this one when you release.

The first thing that stood out to me is the polarity button. Seems strange to be a rectangle.
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:32 AM   #3
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Cheers dude. Yeah, I'm not settled on that particular element just yet. This theme has gone through a ton of revisions (one which included API, SSL, and Neve layouts!) and that's kind of a remnant I haven't gotten round to re-assessing yet.
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:39 AM   #4
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Pretty cool! A bit more contrast wouldn't go amiss, though.
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:45 AM   #5
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Hey very cool!

Have to agree with Ed. But don't ruin the scheme you have going here. It's beautiful.
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:50 AM   #6
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Very cool! Nice job / good work!
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:53 AM   #7
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Cheers guys. I did play around with higher contrast and found that after long periods it gets a bit tiring and disorienting to look at. But it's by no means finished and all that will be tweaked to have the best user experience. Once I have all the stuff at a decent enough level I'll put it up for beta testing because it's hard to tell from a couple of screen grabs what it's like in practice.

I think the buttons still need a bit more tweaking to have the best contrast to usability ratio! It's a fine balance. And the fader panels will probably get a bit of tweaking too - I'm thinking of putting a bit of a halo around the fader caps to help distinguish them and maybe darken the fader panels a touch.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:09 AM   #8
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Nice. Excited to see the results.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:24 AM   #9
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Very nice and I'm with you - don't go for too much contrast. At first it seems clearer but it becomes fatiguing.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:54 AM   #10
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Very interesting! I like it.
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Old 03-12-2016, 09:42 AM   #11
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Great work!Beautifull!

maybe it would looks cleaner without the black edge around the buttons and knobs. Have a look to a lot of flat design UI, you will see there is almost never any contouring to the shapes, it all works by picking the right colors for the buttons and the background. maybey some more modern color palettes would give a fresh taste to the theme, or just one bright color on some details.

I'm glad you are working on this project, it means it can go back to my shadow and relief stuffs without any comments lol
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Old 03-12-2016, 12:27 PM   #12
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I like it. Very nice start. I would say it does need more contrast though. It seems as though things are not in isolation enough graphically speaking.

On a different note this is the first 2D theme that I would consider using.
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Old 03-12-2016, 04:04 PM   #13
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I like it as well. Very nice flat theme.
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Old 03-12-2016, 04:49 PM   #14
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It's like a Janeuniversalanalogimperialdefault theme
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Old 03-12-2016, 05:28 PM   #15
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Thanks folks. Yes, the Janne themes are an inspiration too.

@pyerbass: wrt the black lines, I actually started the theme with non contoured elements but that was in the very early planning stages. I couldn't get things to sit right but I'll have a look today (now that the layouts are further along) and see if I can change that around. I will say that unless you're viewing it on a 1080p monitor and non-zoomed in your browser the black lines become really thickened and heavy. In real life they look pretty sharp and less obvious.

Thanks for all the feedback. I'll play around with the contrast today and see if I can get things to pop a little better. I don't want to go too far though because, as I say, one of the points of this theme is for it to be quite minimal and non-intrusive and, most of all, non-fatiguing. In use it's less 'flat' because there are mouse over effects on buttons and stuff.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:21 PM   #16
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Love it! My only advice would be to make sure it's not too dark and that there is sufficient visual feedback for buttons and whatnot so it's easy to see the status of things.
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Old 03-13-2016, 03:27 AM   #17
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I did some work today and tweaked the contrast on the buttons on the upper half, the background and the pan knobs. It looks much better now but it might need to be tweaked some more...


Last edited by pinksoir; 03-13-2016 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 03-13-2016, 04:15 AM   #18
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Wow, i like it very much mate!
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:31 AM   #19
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Great looking theme. I hope the tracks will be tintable.
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:38 AM   #20
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Cheers. Yeah, tracks are tintable. Well, the track name background (the grey bit) is tintable on the mcp and a section on the side of the tcp is too.
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:43 AM   #21
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This looks great. Will there be sidebar layouts?
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:51 AM   #22
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Very nice work so far!
I'm keeping an eye on this and will give it a run once you've uploaded it.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:55 AM   #23
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WOW! Very very nice. The way it's going, it should be my default... forever.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:34 AM   #24
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Please DO NOT mess with the design or colors anymore! It looks really good. I think the contrast tweak is all it needed. Nice job !
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:43 AM   #25
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Very very beautiful theme. I think @Lestat66 is right.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:05 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksoir View Post
I did some work today and tweaked the contrast on the buttons on the upper half, the background and the pan knobs. It looks much better now but it might need to be tweaked some more...

Very cool
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:23 AM   #27
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Will there be anything to the right of the Routeing button (see track 4)? If not, then perhaps rearrange as in the right-hand side of this mock-up:



Also
(a) should the scales on the meters all be at the same Y position (see tracks 2+3)?
(b) the 'O' in 'IO' looks raggedy here (or is that a gif artefact?)
(c) I think I would prefer to see each MCP fader/meter separated from the neighbouring MCPs by a thin line
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:20 PM   #28
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Thanks for the feedback guys, it really helps me stay focussed.

@ DarkStar: Good call on the routing element. Actually, the original design was like that but I decided early on to put the folder indicators to the right of it. And then I decided to place them at the bottom (they're disabled atm til I finish other stuff) and I just left the design as it was. But I will fix that now you've pointed it out - it makes more sense to conserve screen real estate.

Wrt the meters, that's an automatic thing in Reaper as far as I can tell - it resizes the peak indicator as a ratio of the total meter height, so I think it's just like that. Besides, those channels are variants on the 'Big Meter' layout with different elements visible depending on the need of the user (recording elements only, no recording elements, all elements, no elements). I'd expect that if big meter tracks are grouped together they'll be of the same variant for a particular purpose - recording for example, or just for meter readouts - so the peak indicator offset won't be a problem. Even though stuff like that drives me crazy and I'd like to be able to change it!

The IO's O is pretty sharp, that must just be an artifact. In fact, I can't see it on the screen cap, it must be on your end. Are you viewing on a 1080p monitor with browser zoom at 100%? If not the screen grab is being resized and will artifact.

Lines are a maybe... I've been toying with it but I kind of like the clean approach of a single fader faceplate area. But That throws up small visual problems so I'll play around and see. It's pretty easy to change.
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Old 03-14-2016, 04:10 AM   #29
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I like the clean flat design you have going here.
Nicely done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksoir View Post
Lines are a maybe... I've been toying with it but I kind of like the clean approach of a single fader faceplate area. But That throws up small visual problems so I'll play around and see. It's pretty easy to change.
I sort of prefer the no lines look in the fader section.
If you decide to go with the lines, you might try fattening up the fader track line to help make it stand out from the background border lines.
Should only need to make it 2-3 pixels wide (or wider).
You might also try making the border lines a darker or lighter shade of gray than the backgound color instead of black to help keep it from interfering with the fader line.
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Old 03-14-2016, 05:11 AM   #30
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Very nice work. As per normal you will receive many comments and requests. My advice would be, do Your thing. Just stick to your 9 points. You'll be much happier in the end. Anxiously awaiting the finished work.
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Old 03-14-2016, 08:22 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksoir View Post
Wrt the meters, that's an automatic thing in Reaper as far as I can tell - it resizes the peak indicator as a ratio of the total meter height, so I think it's just like that. Besides, those channels are variants on the 'Big Meter' layout with different elements visible depending on the need of the user (recording elements only, no recording elements, all elements, no elements). I'd expect that if big meter tracks are grouped together they'll be of the same variant for a particular purpose - recording for example, or just for meter readouts - so the peak indicator offset won't be a problem. Even though stuff like that drives me crazy and I'd like to be able to change it!
Yes, I couldn't find a way to set the peak indicator margin in my themes for the MCP strip layouts... That bothered me! So, I made all the layouts have the same meter height as a work around. But, as you said it's not a very likely scenario to be using different layouts at the same time (that would show this minor inconsistency)...

BTW, I checked the default V5 theme's MCP strip layouts and they have this same inconsistency!
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Old 03-14-2016, 08:32 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jekyll View Post
Very nice work. As per normal you will receive many comments and requests. My advice would be, do Your thing. Just stick to your 9 points. You'll be much happier in the end. Anxiously awaiting the finished work.
I agree!

Follow your instincts!

If someone offers a good idea that fits with your vision... Implement that into your plan.

But, often someone will protest a certain idea / element / direction and the next will come along and protest the exact opposite! B)

Too many cooks in the kitchen...

Keep up the good work and have fun!
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:19 PM   #33
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More work done. Looking better now I think:


Last edited by pinksoir; 03-14-2016 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:41 PM   #34
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Seriously Pinksoir, that is looking fantastic! I'm really eager to give this a run.
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:43 PM   #35
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Quote:
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Seriously Pinksoir, that is looking fantastic! I'm really eager to give this a run.
Agree ^^^^
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:53 PM   #36
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Cheers, it's coming along slowly but surely. Mostly tiny little tweaks but it's like mixing - subtle changes make all the difference...
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Old 03-15-2016, 08:54 PM   #37
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Quote:
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More work done. Looking better now I think:

Looks great, no more tweaks, hope this is it...
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:00 AM   #38
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Your theme looks very good
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:00 AM   #39
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Working away - Whiteface and Blackface plus group tracks...

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Old 03-16-2016, 03:05 AM   #40
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Looks tasty so far. Great work!
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