Sunday, 26 October 2008

Echo Icon Theme "Perspective", Part II.

Last time I've explored the area of planar projections and outlined some candidates that are either used in current icon themes, or might be used there. This time I've taken these candidates and created two different echo styled icons in these projections. I've chosen arrow and package – one represents action icon, with the well-distinguished echo trait of having white inner outline on such icons, and the other represents mimetypes with usually more complex shape.

I've put the all together in one image, also with current echo images and some upstream selection – gnome-icon-theme, Tango!, the upcoming Mango! and Oxygen. You can see for yourself (click on the image to get the original resolution):

There's one notable point – all the upstream icon themes use very similar projection types, and we should probably reflect that in Echo as well to better work with them.

Now let's take a look at the Echo sketches. You can see there three parallel projections and three perspective projections. For now we skip the fact that in some angles the package look better than in others and that it would be better if I closed it more in some of them – I decided to make all of the packages exactly same in the original "3D image".

First compare the looks. For me the winner for this section is the second perspective (from the left) followed by dimetric projection. The left-most one would probably look much better if more closed, like in Mango!

Second take a look at usability. Basically all the icons have very good defined metaphor, only the left-most one feels a little awkward in this case - but as I said previously, it would get much better if as much closed as in Mango! So in this category there is no clear winner.

Next we ought to take a look at "desktop integration". All current desktop are 2D and it will most likely stay that for a considerable future that way. So if we go to much overboard with 3D it might get a bit akward. Imagine you are clicking an icon that does not face forward to you, but is is slightly rotated. I feel that that is the main problem in current Echo. That leaves possible good candidets the left-most and right-most perspective icons and cabinet projection, and with one eye closed the dimetric projection.

Finally lets compare them with current upstream. Obviously there is no other choice than the left-most perspective.


During my "trip" to the projection area it appeared that Echo would probably be better off if we
  • Reduced the used projections to 2 types (one of which is Flat)
  • Start working with perspective projection, with similar setting that is used for upstream icons
  • Aim to be 100% consistent with the projection usage

What do you think?


Charles Peng said...

Hey, it's really a great icon theme. I like it, please tell me where to download. linux.usrs at gmail dot com. thanks

Luya Tshimbalanga said...

Dimetric and cabinet projection seem to be good candidate. The problem with perspective (first on echo version) is the difficulty to represent horizontal cylindrical shape and some lack of depth. Cabinet is basically the projection used on action icons for Echo. Perhaps we can use that existing version and replace the trimetric projection used on other categories.

nicu said...

I find the "deformed perspective" the most disturbing. Really disturbing. And could live with any of the others, probably liking "cabinet" the best.

But expect some to complain if the perspective is anything else than Mango (as Mango is Tango's successor)

@charles peng: Echo is available for "yum install" in fedora

Martin said...

luya, I don't like very much the cabinet projection, it's sorta deformed and does not IMHO work very well for many of the currently trimetric icons. The dimetric one is nice, but being slightly angled, it confuses user when they are expected to click on it. I don't think creating a cylidrical shape might be hard in perspective, indeed, it's not just an ellipse in that projection, but with not much of an effort you can make it pretty easily I think.

Also the pros for the first echo perspective (from the left) would be that we could basically reuse tango/mango/gnome/oxygen shapes and just add our own styling to it, though I'd like echo to be more consistent than those, which would require us to redo even shapes of some of the icons... I'd also guess people from gnome would also be more happy if we decided to go that way, since they could reuse our shapes as well in areas they would still lack coverage but we would have it already covered.

Nicu, the "deformed perspective" you refer to is which one? I'd guess the right-most one (as that one I rather dislike and it seems more "off" than the others).

Basically I think if we are gonna to change our projection guidelines, we would be much better off if we just reused upstream ones (to certain extent)...

duvworld said...

So odd question, what is mango?

nicu said...

I was talking about the 4-th from the left, it looks like a photo made with fish-eye lenses or like a reflection on a sphere.

@duvworld: Mango is a second theme from the Tango team, like a Tango 2.0

Martin said...

nicu, aah, that one you mean. I wouldn't have guessed you men that one, since that one is pretty normal, though as the camera is pretty close to the package, the effects of perspective projection are more notable. Fish eye lese or reflection on a sphere would look much more deformed ;-) But yeah, it's not very good for an icon theme.

Luya Tshimbalanga said...

luya, I don't like very much the cabinet projection, it's sorta deformed and does not IMHO work very well for many of the currently trimetric icons. The dimetric one is nice, but being slightly angled, it confuses user when they are expected to click on it.

By proceeding through elimination, only one projection is left: perspective. I also came with conclusion that Echo theme should adopt it as well. It becomes harder to use other projections given that upstream use perspective from Mango theme. It also means all icons those used trimetric projection should achieved somewhere and should be used on other stuff like graphical installation.

FedFox said...

Hi Martin! After one has showered you with some negative words, I want to praise you once: I like the Echo-Icon-Theme excellently! While several GNOME-Themes are rather dull, echo is really first-class! Further in such a way! By the way: Perspective is always a view thing! Excuse my English, but this was the on-line translator. ;)