Old 10-13-2021, 07:28 AM   #1
Stimulus
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Default Can't Find a Theme I'm 100% Happy With

Hi All!

Has anybody else had this problem, I can't find a theme I'm 100% happy with.

You've got:- the TCP, the Arranger (especially the look of the waveforms), the Transport, the Icons, the Midi Editor, the Mixer and the Media Browser, so 7 elements to get looking good. Every theme I've tried has at least 1 or more that doesn't look good or is fiddly or something where as other parts look great.

These are the ones I've tried, all the defaults, Default Commala 4 and 5, iLogic Next and Logic 3.80, FLogic, FL Studio Beta 4, Imperial Theme, Echolot 1.8, Hyrda Iz Lighter, Clearview, Janne2016, Mammoth, Classic 1x, Fusiommala, RADO VS ARTEK, INQUASAR Dark Matter, Superior Theme Beta 2 and Smooth and Smooth Light Blue.

My favourites are:-

Logic 3.80, Smooth Light Blue, Superior Theme Beta 2, FL Studio Beta 4 and Echolot 1.8.

The Logic 3.80 (3.90 is available) is great in all - love everything about it but the Media Browser let's it down and the piano in the midi editor could be better (but I can change that can't I?) oh and the TCP not being coloured in the actual tracks (on the left TCP part itself.)

FL Studio Beta 4 - love everything apart from the midi editor piano (but that's in keeping with the FL Studio look) and the Media Browser is nice but a bit dark. Oh and the TCP colours are a bit faded looking.

Superior Theme Beta 2 - Not bad but then the lines on the outside of the parameters aren't to my liking, the arranger looks horrid, midi editor is ok but could be better and Media Browser ok but needs improving.

Echolot 1.8 - like everything but the arranger isn't nice and the midi editor is just ok.

Smooth Light Blue - Now this is probably the best looking theme of all for me (especially the graphic on the midi editor piano) but the transport is too narrow / small and fiddly. I like to tap tempo for guitar bpm's so need this to be more prominent and easily clickable which in Smooth isn't.

Anybody else have this "finding a theme they're totally happy with" problem?

Would it be much work or hard to adapt the Smooth Lighter Blue theme to my liking (the Smooth Lighter Blue has been adapted from a previous one by Bose already so it's allowable)?

Last edited by Stimulus; 10-13-2021 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:39 AM   #2
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design your own, from the ground up

easier than you think

worse thing you can do is try to get your head around someone else's code
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:07 AM   #3
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Yes it is common practice to take the theme you like most and adapt it to your likings. It can be pretty time-consuming to wrap your head around but it pays off.

You can have 3 levels of customizing appearance:

- Theme tweaker (found in action list): this is responsible for colors and transparency of Reaper-drawn elements as well as some of the fonts and a few settings (like interlaced VU meters). If for example the grid lines are too black you can search for grid lines and change it to a brighter color or make them more transparent. Instead of searching I suggest however you take some time and scroll from start to end and try out what every option does (by changing to some extreme color) so you learn to find things in future and know what is there. Some options are named ambiguously so it can be hard to find them. If you don't save the theme you can just reload it at any time to revert your changes.

- WALTER: this is responsible for positioning and resizing UI elements which are supplied to Reaper in form of images, as well as some fonts and colors can be found there. This is a bit more difficult to get into compared to the theme tweaker and you will have to read up on it.
However to give an idea in a very oversimplified manner: you have transport (trans), track (tcp), master track (master.tcp), mixer (mcp), master mixer (master.mcp) and envelope (envcp) areas on which you can "set" various elements in the rtconfing text file to appear on the Reaper interface. You give them coordinates for [x, y, w, h] in pixels (x & y define upper left corner of element and w & h stretch it out). There are possibilities to define more things with more numbers, as well as conditions, but you should really read up on that if you want to give it a shot. With WALTER you can easily do things like swap positions of tcp buttons of the same size, for example mute and solo, by swapping out the coordinates.

https://www.reaper.fm/sdk/walter/walter.php

- Image editing: In your theme folder you will find many png images which are used by Reaper and positioned by Walter. You can change those with images you make or edit yourself (via Photoshop, GIMP etc.) or images from other themes. Here a list of images you can use:

https://www.reaper.fm/sdk/walter/images.php

A common thing to do (at least for me) is, I like everything from one theme but the transport from another theme. So I copy all transport images from the one theme and paste them (and replace images) in the other theme. I also replace the WALTER code for the transport from the theme which I want to use with the one from which I steal the transport.

Important: when swapping out images but you want to keep the WALTER code, make sure that the new images are of the same dimensions as the old ones, otherwise they will be stretched which looks bad. Images and WALTER need always to be taken care off together in order to obtain the intended results.

Have fun theming All this may look a bit intimidating at first but when you understand a few basic principles it really isn't that hard to just mash together the best of various themes with a bit of your own twist. The hardest bit is to understand the complicated Walter that some themers write; often the easiest is just to erase it and rewrite it to show only what you want to see, where you want to see it and organize the code how it makes sense to you.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:50 AM   #4
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I love that we have the luxury of using a DAW software that a thread like this can even exist about.
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:54 AM   #5
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Totally with you. I reluctantly took to customizing something for myself because I had no other options. I really don't want to spend my time designing interfaces, but alas...

It's the green, the overall darkness and the way the controls jump all over the place when you resize the TCP that drive me the most crazy.

It's easy to say that you can completely re-theme the app, but a. you have to be willing to sacrifice the time you'd rather spend creating recordings and b. without a reasonable default, customizing sends me into rabbit holes about obscure functionality. "I didn't know about that feature. I'd like to try that, but first, I need to incorporate that UI in my customization, if I can find where the color/graphic/WALTER lives." Before you know it, weeks pass. Not cool.
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Old 10-13-2021, 10:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richie43 View Post
I love that we have the luxury of using a DAW software that a thread like this can even exist about.
I think so too, sincerely.

Like many of us, I had to customize REAPER's user interface in the beginning, which involved a lot of forum searching and a good deal of tinkering.
But as a result, I got a DAW tailored for my workflows.

In a way, the learning stage one goes through with a new DAW was, with REAPER, more of a customization stage for me. Whereas with other DAWs I had to adapt to the DAW, in case of REAPER it was the DAW that ended up being adapted to me, to surprising extent.
The experience made me realize that since we can customize our physical studio spaces, instruments and computers, the same should ideally apply to DAWs - and beyond that, software in general.


So I'd also encourage the original poster to boldly tinker with themes and other things Themes are easy to backup and restore, and for general customization, portable install allows backups of entire app setups - so it's always easy to go back to last working version.
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Old 10-13-2021, 11:05 AM   #7
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I have a few themes I switch between from time to time but I’ve had the best luck with starting with Default 6.0 and changing the colors for different elements via the theme tweaked.
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Old 10-13-2021, 11:11 AM   #8
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i do also 'matching' themes combined..
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Old 10-13-2021, 11:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synkrotron View Post
design your own, from the ground up

easier than you think

worse thing you can do is try to get your head around someone else's code
This is what I did, though I'm not sure what "from the ground up" means. I started with the default, because the idea was to still be able to track the changes back that way, though now it's customized to an extent that I doubt I could tweak it back to default without a bunch of hassle. But the point is you don't have to learn someone else's system and way of thinking. If it's your own layout it's virtually certain to be intuitively friendly for you.

I've borrowed and stolen freely from other people's theme elements. Though I don't pretend that it's a great theme in terms of universal appeal, it works great for me and I'm very happy with it.
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Old 10-13-2021, 11:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synkrotron View Post
design your own, from the ground up

easier than you think

worse thing you can do is try to get your head around someone else's code


You're absolutely correct synkrotron. Btw, I listen to your music via youtube almost every day.
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Old 10-13-2021, 02:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgemickel View Post
Btw, I listen to your music via youtube almost every day.
you are very kind

thank you
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Old 10-13-2021, 02:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasar View Post
though I'm not sure what "from the ground up" means
I started with a totally empty rtconfig file

then, using the various help files, I added sections one at a time, starting simple and adding more and more stuff, one piece at a time

I also created all my own images

it is nothing special, but I am still using it over a year later

there were a few hurdles, but I really did find it easier than tweaking an existing theme


when you are building a theme for yourself you don't have to worry about all the "tweaker" code which would enable other people to change how a theme looks

Quote:
If it's your own layout it's virtually certain to be intuitively friendly for you
that is pretty much what I mean
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Old 10-13-2021, 02:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New Aquarius View Post
you have to be willing to sacrifice the time you'd rather spend creating recordings
that is true... I took around a solid month out of creating sounds and instead did some simple graphic design

but to be honest, I enjoyed that as much as I enjoy making sounds


I would like to say that the guys in the theming sub forum are very helpful and anything that I learned at the time I documented there and also helped where I could, with the simple things

it was time well spent in my opinion
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Old 10-13-2021, 02:46 PM   #14
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I don't want be rude and i love Reaper but it looks literally really ugly no matter which theme you use, everything get messy soon. If you like a clean design forget it. Even Ardour looks way better.
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Old 10-13-2021, 03:23 PM   #15
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Agree with the above, most Reaper themes look ugly but it's not the theme developer's fault.

It's the architecture of Reaper that is based on vintage style fonts, buttons, windows. I don't know about it technically, I can just see it with my eye. Most themes suffer from the same annoyances, that I am guessing you are spotting as well.

Compare with Studio One / Ableton, you can tell they use entirely different graphical types. Again, it's not my area so I don't know the correct terminology.

I recommend Flat Madness theme as this looks the cleanest to me,but it may not be your cup of tea.
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Old 10-13-2021, 04:48 PM   #16
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In a single day I was able to learn enough WALTER to cobble all my favorite bits together. Well worth the effort since everyone's needs are slightly different. Also not difficult.

I'd suggest starting with your favorite and just edit or sub out the parts that don't work for you.
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Old 10-13-2021, 07:59 PM   #17
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Hey, Smooth Light Blue creator here : ). I'm really not an expert on theming, but I hope this could help:

I had the exact same problem and that's how I ended up creating Light Blue using elements I loved from other themes. So far and without getting into Walter at all, you can pretty much take everything from other themes in the form of PNGs, and if you know a little photoshop you can do wanders with that (and if not, you can get great results anyways). My advice in this case would be:

- As I said I'm not into Walter, so the only things that wasn't able to change at all were the TCP and the MCP (at least the distribution of the elements. You can still do something with the colors). You could start off by choosing a base theme with Tracks and Mixer panels that you like and stick with that one.

- Everything else -icons, colors, great part of the transport, midi editor, etc - can be borrowed from other themes by searching into the ReaperThemeZip files and using the pngs there. The midi editor on mine was made with a lot of elements from RADO, imo the best piano roll out there.

- The big thing that I found while making that particular theme, is that I used the colors from other DAWS instead of the ones in other Reaper themes. The arrange background for example is the exact same as in Cubase 7, and I'm planning to get some icons like Studio One in the future.

- One last thing, on windows at least, is that I patched the computer to change the look of the text and the Windows with a Dark Windows Theme. That helped a lot to get rid of those ugly white screens

Hope you can create a theme that makes you stick with Reaper, it's totally worth it because it's such a fantastic DAW and, as someone stated above, in no other community you will find a thread like this one : p
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Old 10-13-2021, 10:55 PM   #18
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I've tried almost all the themes out there but finally settled on Instrument by Kusakanaka. I've also modded it to fit my needs but the base and design is perfect for my eyes.

But yeah, I encourage you to try making your own! I know White Tie always says to start with an empty rtconfig file but man, it's just too tempting to mess with other peoples code! Plus, if you DO get lucky and find a theme you really like (well, most of anyway), there's very little coding involved to make it perfect for you!

Also, if it's just a simple "transport is too small" type of a thing, I'm sure someone here would be able to make it for you. But then you miss out on the coding-it-yourself part...
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Old Yesterday, 01:58 AM   #19
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i started with this one L1-Goldielocks,and from there i picked some elements from others themes

the original,




my mod

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Old Yesterday, 02:57 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pink Wool View Post
I know White Tie always says to start with an empty rtconfig file but man, it's just too tempting to mess with other peoples code!
On the contrary, I encourage everyone to crack open existing themes and start messing with stuff. Go nuts, have fun, nothing bad is going to happen, there's a high chance you'll be able to make meaningful changes that satisfy you. Reaper theming has always been full of this kind of modding, and I do my best to include as many easily mod-able elements as I can in any theme I make.

...however...

...if you want to learn, to actually understand what's going on perhaps because you want to do more complex stuff, then I do indeed absolutely, 100%, fiercely recommend that you start with a blank theme. Just for an hour or two, no more, just to figure out how things fit together. There have been a hundred people here who have ignored this advice, they spend MONTHS struggling with the difference between a theme, walter and preferences, they get horribly misdirected by trying to deal with behaviour that is specific to the theme they are looking at rather than Reaper theming in general, then they as likely as not will post about how Reaper theming is too difficult and they are giving up. Its a long bad road, and I will continue to caution anyone from travelling down it, even as they always start out with a smile and a cheery "its fine, I know what I'm doing..."
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Old Yesterday, 03:00 AM   #21
Pink Wool
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On the contrary, I encourage everyone to crack open existing themes and start messing with stuff. Go nuts, have fun, nothing bad is going to happen, there's a high chance you'll be able to make meaningful changes that satisfy you. Reaper theming has always been full of this kind of modding, and I do my best to include as many easily mod-able elements as I can in any theme I make.

...however...

...if you want to learn, to actually understand what's going on perhaps because you want to do more complex stuff, then I do indeed absolutely, 100%, fiercely recommend that you start with a blank theme. Just for an hour or two, no more, just to figure out how things fit together. There have been a hundred people here who have ignored this advice, they spend MONTHS struggling with the difference between a theme, walter and preferences, they get horribly misdirected by trying to deal with behaviour that is specific to the theme they are looking at rather than Reaper theming in general, then they as likely as not will post about how Reaper theming is too difficult and they are giving up. Its a long bad road, and I will continue to caution anyone from travelling down it, even as they always start out with a smile and a cheery "its fine, I know what I'm doing..."
Hear hear!
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Old Yesterday, 08:01 AM   #22
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@Stimulus,

Find a Theme that you like the best and slowly change it to what you like.

I did that with WT Imperial theme, so far it's been evolving over 3 years now.
I have used some Images from other themes and also made my own.

Here's White Ties Imperial



Here's what it looks like now!



Just change 1 thing at a time slowly......

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Old Yesterday, 08:13 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Tie View Post
...however...

...if you want to learn, to actually understand what's going on perhaps because you want to do more complex stuff, ...."
I found that every theme is done differently in Walter, from more complex code to simpler code. I picked Imperial and slowly made changes to my liking.

As you also can see below what I did to help me Remember what is what, that because sometimes months go by before I change something again.



Also here what the Master looks like when selected



I want to give credit where I can! (even tho it's just for me)

I call my theme Imperial BlackHawk

Robert

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Old Yesterday, 08:20 AM   #24
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How about these: https://cincikat69.wordpress.com/modern/
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Old Yesterday, 08:32 AM   #25
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Here's my Folders Closed



Here it is Opened



Select tracks





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