Where the doctor offers his skinning advice and frequently voices his rants and raves about our society.
Published on October 7, 2004 By qrush In WindowBlinds
Apologia/Disclaimer: This article is full of my highly biased and honest opinion. I have not yet begun to skin WindowBlinds, so I am a novice at skinning. These are simply my observations and rants about skins I liked...and a few I didn't. If you feel I didn't include a skin that deserves its rightful props, just drop me a comment, I'll be happy to add a skin to the list.

September '04 was in my opinion, the revival of WB skinning after the GUI Olympics. A few new "styles" of GUI skinning debuted, such as "Aero" and of course plenty of Longhorn and WMP10 spinoffs. However, the advent of WindowBlinds 4.4 introduced a few new aspects into skinning. New shellstyles brought a few new and exciting designs for the first time since the GUIO. Msstyle porting still maintained popularity, but Winamp skin porting also experienced quite a good run during this month. Here I'll mention a few of the WB skins I've liked or deemed noteworthy that were created and/or updated during the month of September. Enjoy!

~~~Innovative Skins~~~

neOS NeoShell by DanilloOC

Dani has some SERIOUS talent. This skin looks totally amazing, the start menu and the taskbar look like they're from the OS of 3004, not 2004. This was one of the first to make use of the new ShellStyles in WB 4.4, and it's flawlessly executed with supreme style in this skin. Yes, I sound like an overbearing gymnastics announcer, but this skin truly deserves it. Awesome work, and a must-have download.

Skuda by Essorant

One of the most commonly unused features of WindowBlinds is its custom colorization ability. This skin practically lives off of this premise, and Essorant pulls it off with a minimalistic approach as well. With the potential to match with almost any icon set or wallpaper, this skin has massive potiental.

Blue Lagoon by Cavebear

I'll take a good bet that at least 25-40% of WB skins on WinCustomize are blue. However, only a few skins can really create a new unique look with the color. Combining a Crystal/Gloss style with a Linux looking GUI, this skin has a few specific features that I like immensely. First of all, the new shellstyles with the giant picture in them look VERY cool. Another huge advantage of this skin is its smooth curves. The system tray on it looks like it almost slid in seamlessly. The ladybug and people icons in the start menu and log off/shutdown dialogs are also very impressive.

SubZero by I.R. Brainiac

Not many skins can successfully pull off a photo-realistic look anymore. With the msstylers going for uber minimalistic looks and many WB users preferring more technical looking skins, a fresh deviation from the norm is definitely welcome. The start menu in this skin looks like it's jumping off the screen at you, almost in a 3D fashion. This skin isn't your normal Photoshop bevel and emboss. The fonts aren't perfectly coordinated, but I feel that this is a great change from the conventional WB skin.

~~~Powerful Ports~~~

Inspirat by Frogboy

Like most msstyle ports, I have certain issues with style differences. Some skins scream that they originated in that "other" GUI skinning land, and this is definitely one of them. Allow me to highlight its positive aspects first though. This skin is THE definition of gloss, gradients crumble in the wake of its contrast lines...just look at the buttons! However, this skin also is an awesome minimialistic piece, and it makes for one cool Windows-based theme because of the start menu button. The new shellstyle is nice (someone has to coin a new term for it, and soon), but it's a bit too bland for me. However, this is one of the best ports this side of Labor Day.

Multipass Carbon by MikeB314

Ahh...a port of the finest Winamp skin to grace our monitors since MMD3, what could be better? I used this skin for about 3 weeks (quite a long time in my book), and MikeB did a great job converting it perfectly through SkS. I love the whole skin's blue glowy/aura parts, and it feels like you're interacting with a futuristic control panel of some sort. The toolbar icons are VERY cool, in that they change from a unlit grey to a fluorescent blue on a mouseover. Also well executed are the file animations, and although it's actually just the visualizers from the Winamp skin, the animation goes so quick that it's almost simulating the real thing.

Venus by Snowman

Another fine transition to WB by one of rpeterclark's Winamp skins. In my own opinion, this is Snow's best skin, as it connects his minimalistic style to a set of awesome graphics. After experimenting with skin myself since I created a set of ObjectDock backgrounds, I realized how much effort was put into making the skin cover the whole GUI. I consider this one of the really good "green" skins, seeing that it's sort of off-grey, and goes perfect with many light green walls.

~~~Breakout Skinners~~~

Michael Brandt
Known as NOT "MikeB314," I feel he's starting to hit his skinning stride. M12 Toxic impressed me with a subtle blend of Copper Deck style color with nice bevels. Also, M13 has an awesome light blue feel while still maintaining his metal-encasing style. His new skin, M14, is definitely worth a look at. While not totally gold, it fills in a color genre that not many skins can handle nicely. Michael is definitely on his way to skinning goodness.

Yeah, I know the community can't stand the kid, but he's got some talent brewing in that little obnoxious mind of his. His skins are getting (slowly) better, and I feel that at some point he will have his day on WC. Hopefully with some time and some experience, his material will improve.

~~~Awesome Updates~~~

DogmaX v2 by brewman

I personally love the grid/blueprint like look of DogmaX. With some minor changes to the skin, this one is near perfection. This skin retains functionality and a classic Windows look while bringing all the cool capabilities of WB in.

Ascension by PixelPirate

This was definitely an underdog in the GUIO, and I didn't even notice it until PixelPirate updated it. A mix of nice PS layer techniques and a cool minimalistic glyph style, Ascension is definitely a skin to check out. The skin has an Inspirat-like feel to it too. I was also impressed by this skin's awesome features. Each window has not only a rollup button, but also a screen saver and a transparency button. The transparency isn't very new, but I like the screensaver doohickey. The throbber in Explorer looks really nice since it rotates, and all the toolbar icons also have a great 3D feel.

Velvet Waves by Woodbridge

I didn't even notice this one was updated until I went through the WB library for this article! This sneaky little update brings the skin up to 4.4 requirements, and according to Woodbridge, it's now exactly like the msstyle. I'm a huge fan of curves everywhere, and the start menu and taskbar look quite, well...wavy. I'll be updating this puppy as soon as I'm done getting this article finished.""""

on Oct 07, 2004
Good wrap up of some seriously great skins. There have been some really nice ones showing up lately. This is a great time to be a subscriber!
on Oct 07, 2004
Great article!
on Oct 07, 2004
Great work, Nick! Looks quite good....I just recently discovered that Velvet Waves update myself. That, and Multipass Carbon. Good work on showing the highlights!
on Oct 08, 2004
While I beg to differ as far as latin4567 being a 'breakout skinner,' (potential is the key word there...) I must commend you on the rest of the article.
Good stuff. Well written.
on Oct 08, 2004
Thanks for the all the good compliments! (And for the feature!! That's 2 in a row...hmm)

As to EventHorizon: I meant the Breakout Skinners to be just the new faces to the scene this month, and he was undoubtably one of them. I felt that some credit, if any, could have been awarded.
on Oct 08, 2004
Nice Article Nick.
on Oct 08, 2004
Wow! I hope you will be able to do this periodically. I really enjoyed the article.
on Oct 11, 2004
- thanks doctornick
on Oct 11, 2004
Thanks much!! Next time I'm definitely gonna proof it a little..."the potential to do massive potential" Oh well, who says blogs are grammar tests, anyway
on Oct 14, 2004
thanks for the plug...and I agree about the fonts