Already in the late 1990s, I was bored and annoyed by the either too techy small or too flooded skins for Winamp. And no way better, XMMS at those days had similiar techy skins only. Hence, during holiday while lying at the beach, I got some ideas to bring some wood to Winamp — this was the beginning of my experience with graphics programs.
This was my very first skin. The idea was to bring some wood inside, which was combined with a kind of green as I had seen at some doors somewhere. I didn't take this green, as it was too hard to integrate it with the wood and offer enough contrast to wallpapers and other windows.
Though, I liked the green of these doors too much; and having a Siemens PC at these days, I combined the grayish cyan look of this Siemens PC and of the door green into a new theme.
A little later, I noticed how transparency would work and got the idea of an egg-like skin. In that design, I incorporated a few more ideas such as indicating the purpose of the sliders by the first letter of then English term. Moreover, I tried to indicate stereo sound by two speakers instead of one; but actually, the symbols cannot be recognized as such.
Playing a lot of Quake II in 1999-2001 with some friends at so-called LAN parties, I wanted an armoured theme for Winamp that would somehow integrate colors and feeling of Quake II: sliders, button style, window icons were somehow designed in the style of Quake II.
A little later, a cousin of mine sent a nice ASCII art image attached to an e-mail, and I found it pretty fitting for a window decoration. Together with a relatively clean and independent design, maybe leaning a little onto other designs as well, was born and a perfect toy for learning more effects of graphics programs, as can be seen in version 3.
One day, I had a very lucky hand when playing around with some graphics effects — version 3 was born with a kind of 3-dimensional, looming appearance.
Still, I was unpleased with the idea of Nullsoft, to have own theming for the player available only. Thus, I tried to create a skin as similar as possible as the general grayish Windows look.
But I was not quite satisifed with the WINamp skin I made, but liked the Explorer skin of tese days pretty much and hence converted the WINamp skin to more ressemble Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Having switched to Linux fully, and still using KDE, I was again annoyed by not having any fitting decorations for XMMS and the like. The new Keramik theme pretty much was my taste, and hence I created a Keramik theme with the Windows color scheme and a default icon set. Personally, I find it the first usable theme I created, but opinions might differ on that...
Also was I annoyed by Windows and closed-source pretty much, so my first skin fully targeted XMMS only. Unfortunately, I later noticed that the XMMS icon might not fit well into other people's icon schemes or to other player as well, and hence I removed the XMMS logo from the lower right corner to make the skin fully usable in any player, see below.
In 2004, I switched to Xfce and hence a GTK environment, where the Keramik theme was no longer usable - the GTK Qt engine crashed frequently and I found the Smokey-Blue Koynacity combination way more usable; but again I was missing a nice XMMS skin. It ressembles as much as possible the Smokey-Blue GTK theme. I am still using it today occasionally.
So that's really all the skins I've ever created for Winamp, XMMS, Beep Media Player and the like. If you enjoy them, I would like to get some feedback.
Disclaimer: Nowadays, I much more use rhythmbox and MPD. These are free of skins, easy to use, come with lots of features and I simply like them much more. Also, with regard to skinning and themes, I actually think that the approach of MPlayer and Xine with fully customizable skins is a way better one, because authors are not required to stick to the geometry constraints and layout of the buttons, allowing designers to make their ideas more usable by placing and sizing each button individually. The result is that there are skins such as DVD boxes, corner skins, flat skins, minimal skins; and in effect, users can also choose among skins fitting their very special purposes and constraints such as small monitors, eye problems, set-top boxes etc.
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