Expression Blend - Color Scheme

17 Apr 2007 - 8:34am
7 years ago
8 replies
2908 reads
vcagwin
2007

I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
design (visual and interactive)?

Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I didn't
like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
long period of time.

Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
starting to be used in recent interfaces?

Comments

17 Apr 2007 - 9:13am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Virginia,

It's the "black turtle neck phenomena" ... ;)
Seriously though, first you should know there are 2 themes. One is
brighter, called Expression Light, and you can get to it under Tools >
Options > Workspace.

Personally I prefer the darker colors. I don't find "black" to be
equal to depressing, but then again, I'm writing this from a Soho loft
so maybe that is telling.

But more importantly when I switch between the white on black and the
black on white themes I find that the black on white is easier on my
eyes as there is less projected radiation. It also for a work
environment does a better job of allowing me to focus on my artboard
(canvas) with less strain. What is important is the content I'm
creatiing.

Anyway, this is one thing I've actually learned to enjoy over time.

-- dave

On 4/17/07, Cagwin, Virginia <Virginia.Cagwin at turner.com> wrote:
> I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
> finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
> great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
> design (visual and interactive)?
>
> Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I didn't
> like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
> the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
> but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
> long period of time.
>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
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> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

17 Apr 2007 - 10:37am
mtumi
2004

well, I think you want a neutral colored interface in a visual design
interface, so the colors don't impact how you are seeing the design
itself. that leaves you with various shades of gray to work with.
It seems we are moving from light gray to dark gray. Probably go
back to light in 5 years. :-)

MT

On Apr 17, 2007, at 10:34 AM, Cagwin, Virginia wrote:

> I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
> finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
> great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
> design (visual and interactive)?
>
> Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I
> didn't
> like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
> the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
> but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
> long period of time.
>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

17 Apr 2007 - 10:54am
Nathan Moody
2004

Another thing to consider is that many tools in the 3D and high-end
video space have often had dark color schemes. From years of
professional experience, I have come to believe that darker color
schemes as one might find in 3D Studio MAX, SoftImage, Shake, and
Flint/Flame/Inferno systems came from the environment in which they
were used.

Editing suites and serious CGI production facilities are often very
dark places, and a bright, light UI is often the brightest thing in
the room! This, itself, is an outgrowth of ensuring that lightspill
onto computer and video monitors is kept at a minumum (again derived
from an industry built around highly reflective CRT's). Michael T's
previous post is also spot-on; for any critical color work you need a
color-neutral (and ideally, tone-neutral) background against which to
work. Some prefer mid-tone gray, others prefer a dark field...many
software tools now allow the user to select which they prefer.

Over the years, this darker color scheme has come to be synonymous
with professional-grade tools (look at Apple's Aperture and Final Cut
Pro, Adobe' s After Effects 7.0+ and Photoshop Lightroom, et multiple
cetera), even outside of the context of the dimly-lit editing bay.
Not many of these tools is quite as dark as their predecessors, but
definitely are mid- to dark-key, tonally. The darker tones
emotionally infer higher-end tools.

This is my own personal theory based on years as a motion graphics
artist and video editor, as well as having reviewed such software
packages for over 10 years. Pals in the industry tend to agree with
these observations, but again, just IMHO! :-)

-Nathan

On Apr 17, 2007, at 7:34 AM, Cagwin, Virginia wrote:

> I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
> finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
> great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
> design (visual and interactive)?
>
> Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I
> didn't
> like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
> the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
> but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
> long period of time.
>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?

17 Apr 2007 - 12:54pm
Christian Sosa-Lanz
2006

My teammates and I have also talked about the color scheme quite a
bit. Black UI's seam to be the trend for pro apps such as Apple's
Aperture and Shake. It's a difficult call to make, on one side,
photographers usually put their photo's on black so that the work
stands out, on the opposite side in print, you always opt for black
text on white for legibility. To me, the gray mid-point that software
lands on is drab. I like the change to black that Blend did, however,
I haven't burned the midnight oil with it yet.

My biggest disappointment when I started working with software was
that I would be designing in grey.

Christian

On Apr 17, 2007, at 9:37 AM, Michael Tuminello wrote:

well, I think you want a neutral colored interface in a visual design
interface, so the colors don't impact how you are seeing the design
itself. that leaves you with various shades of gray to work with.
It seems we are moving from light gray to dark gray. Probably go
back to light in 5 years. :-)

MT

On Apr 17, 2007, at 10:34 AM, Cagwin, Virginia wrote:

> I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
> finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
> great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
> design (visual and interactive)?
>
> Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I
> didn't
> like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
> the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
> but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
> long period of time.
>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

18 Apr 2007 - 7:28am
vcagwin
2007

Nathan wrote:
"Editing suites and serious CGI production facilities are often very
dark places, and a bright, light UI is often the brightest thing in
the room!"

So you're telling me I'm going to have to tell all the people that work
around me we need to turn the lights out? ;-)

Blend does provide an additional lighter color scheme. I think this
theme as potential to work well for those who like to be outside of a
cave, but they need to make some modifications.

-Virginia

19 Apr 2007 - 1:57pm
Chris Bernard
2007

Dave (and others) summarizes the exact reason we took this approach with the tools. Largely inspired by interfaces you'd see in 3D software or advanced editing rigs.

One this I've noticed (anecdotally) at Microsoft is that developers seem to favor the more traditional color scheme and designers (at least those that come from a media background) seem to like the darker scheme. But you do have a choice.

If I was being really meticulous I'd stay you should set your artboard background (accessed via the tools menu using options) to 50% neutral gray (RGB values of 125 or so). It keeps your ability to judge colors more objective but there's see enough contrast to let you focus on your canvas.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
312.925.4095

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of David Malouf
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:14 AM
To: Cagwin, Virginia
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Expression Blend - Color Scheme

Hi Virginia,

It's the "black turtle neck phenomena" ... ;)
Seriously though, first you should know there are 2 themes. One is
brighter, called Expression Light, and you can get to it under Tools >
Options > Workspace.

Personally I prefer the darker colors. I don't find "black" to be
equal to depressing, but then again, I'm writing this from a Soho loft
so maybe that is telling.

But more importantly when I switch between the white on black and the
black on white themes I find that the black on white is easier on my
eyes as there is less projected radiation. It also for a work
environment does a better job of allowing me to focus on my artboard
(canvas) with less strain. What is important is the content I'm
creatiing.

Anyway, this is one thing I've actually learned to enjoy over time.

-- dave

On 4/17/07, Cagwin, Virginia <Virginia.Cagwin at turner.com> wrote:
> I have enjoyed reading about everyone's comments on Blend. I have
> finally had the chance to actually use it the other day and see it's
> great potential. However, why has no one mentioned anything about its
> design (visual and interactive)?
>
> Is dark gray/black color scheme the "new" thing? I'm sorry but I didn't
> like it when Office 2007 beta used it and was thrilled when they added
> the silver scheme. I wouldn't consider being in my early 30's as old,
> but I find these depressing colors to be overwhelming to look at for a
> long period of time.
>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

21 Apr 2007 - 10:56pm
Scott Bower
2006

It is also a symptom of trying to get the "hip" Flash and motion design
crowd to migrate. 3d environments aside, it is also the "look" that
Joshua Davis (sadly), WWFT, Yugop, VR2L, MIT Media Labs students, and
countless Japanese designers (Sony R+D etc) popularized in the late
90s. Not only are they being used in interfaces, but also in mainstream
motion based advertising. Perhaps as an easy way to sync brands across
various media.

Also, after struggling with this app and event handling since last
summer, I have found a great set of video tutorials recently posted on
Lynda.com for free. They are conducted by Lee Brimelow of Frog and Flex
development notoriety. Should have you up and running a senseless 3d
RSS visualizer/aggregator in no time.

Scott
www.werkplace.com

>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________

22 Apr 2007 - 7:51am
Chris Bernard
2007

In addition to the excellent overview of Blend that Lee does over at Lynda.com we've got some content on a variety of UI focused technology over at http://www.visitmix.com/university/.

In a few weeks we're going to massively update that site with much more in depth content on Expression Blend and how it works with Microsoft's new UI API WPF and XAML (The markup that Expression Blend generates). I'll post a note here when that new content is up.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
312.925.4095

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Scott Bower
Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2007 11:57 PM
To: Cagwin, Virginia
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Expression Blend - Color Scheme

It is also a symptom of trying to get the "hip" Flash and motion design
crowd to migrate. 3d environments aside, it is also the "look" that
Joshua Davis (sadly), WWFT, Yugop, VR2L, MIT Media Labs students, and
countless Japanese designers (Sony R+D etc) popularized in the late
90s. Not only are they being used in interfaces, but also in mainstream
motion based advertising. Perhaps as an easy way to sync brands across
various media.

Also, after struggling with this app and event handling since last
summer, I have found a great set of video tutorials recently posted on
Lynda.com for free. They are conducted by Lee Brimelow of Frog and Flex
development notoriety. Should have you up and running a senseless 3d
RSS visualizer/aggregator in no time.

Scott
www.werkplace.com

>
> Anyone else feel the same or care to tell me why these colors are
> starting to be used in recent interfaces?
> ________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

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