Colour coded icons


I don’t understand the motivation behind making all the icons monochromatic. Have the reason behind this change been properly discussed among developers and experienced users, specially UI experienced?
So far everywhere that I look the vast majority of people that take time to comment on the changes are in agreement that they prefer colorful icons to help peripheral-vision navigation based on hue/saturation instead of shape/texture, as 1D_Inc so aptly explained, including some of the most prominent blender users that this community have. (eg: YanSculpts, Pierrick, Jayanam, Zacharias)

IMO the best compromise would be a Saturation slider on the Theme Preferences. If users want colors, they can have colors. If they prefer monochromatic, they put the Sat. slider to 0.

1D_Inc’s post here about icon colors gained 24 hearts in just 3 days on this thread which has been viewed 3k times total.
That’s almost as much as the main Jendrzych first and main post of the Blender Artists thread which has only 26 hearts since May (5 months ago) on a thread that has been viewed 26.5k times (almost 9 times more visitors).
This should tell us something.
It’s well known that pleased users usually don’t engage as much as displeased. But while comment amount is an indicator of dissatistaction (something I’m not even considering), the heart :heart: feature on this forums is an indication of satisfaction. And the few that engaged, are much more pleased with the idea of colorful icons (as they were before).

The fact is that the old Object Icon was an orange beacon everywhere on the interface. The Material icon was a Redish beacon, World/Render properties were Turquoise (blue+green) and modifiers were Blue beacons everywhere. Easily interpreted and found anywhere. Nothing about monochromatic or three-chromatic icons will bring this feature back:

I understand that maybe reinserting colors to the icons would be a step back (but not a bad thing IMO) and this may hurt the feelings of some people. But sometimes humility is key to real progress.

To me this should have been the thought process so far:
-First step: Identifying the reason behind the change. Is it really necessary? What has been gained and what has been lost with this change? Identify clearly what were the advantages of what has been lost (colorful icons).
-Second step: Questioning: is there some way of merging the best of both worlds? Keeping the advantages of one, while maintaining the reason (whatever it was) for the change? If there is, why not add? Time constraints? Manpower? Make it public the reason why the merge is impossible or impractible.
-Third step: Questioning: if there is no way of merging both options, is there some way of making it optional, so that users (if majority, which they are IMO) who are not happy with the change can keep the old appearance? If not, why not? Time constraints? Manpower? Make it public the reasons of why this “option for optional” cannot exist.


I will address the all mentioned issues:

  • First step: - greater customization;
  • Second step: - nothing’s settled. It’s still a work in progress.
  • Third step: - as far as I know, optional icon sets are not trivial and require specific code changes. So time and human resources.

I hear You. Devs do as well, I suppose. From my point of view, everything goes in the right direction.


Thanks for the quick reply! :wink:

I propose the following… If greater customization was the reason for monochromatic icons, maybe it should be discussed among devs and exp. users if this change would not be best as being the customization option (as a saturation slider on the theme options maybe?), instead of being forced as the default at the main version as if it was the agreed, proven, tried and true best option for everyone.
Maybe the devs added as the default to gather user feedback? I’m not close to any dev, therefore I cannot tell. But IMO the feedback has been clear so far.

Are you a dev responsible for the change @jendrzych?
If you are, first I’d like to thank you for your engagement with the community. You could have been changing everything behind the curtains and ignoring everyone. I applaud your openness. :smile::clap::+1:

Next, I’d like to ask you, if you agree with the following 1D_Inc table. If not, why not?


I’m not involved in Blender’s develoment in any way. Just a man who makes an icon set for it from time to time.


Regarding the table, it’s true as long as it doesn’t refer to Blenders 2.8 goals.


Thanks for answering, even though since you are not a dev I understand your answers may not represent the dev answers. But I will question them anyways, in case the devs agree with those answers:

Optional Icon sets” may be out of reach for the current dev team. But then how can “greater customization” be the reason behind the change for monochromatic? Those two answers appear incompatible.
Unless we are talking Fixed icon set, but customizable per-icon color on the theme preferences.


There you go, want monochromatic? Put the Saturation Factor Slider to 0.
This is true greater customization. You cannot change every single icon image per se, but you can change every icon HSV as you wish, therefore making it possible to customize it back to the old colorful palette (of course Icons would have to have base colors for the HSV to work).

I find strange to impose a change that affects (IMO negatively) everyone in a way that cannot be customized back to the old questionably better appearance (since it has more color and contrast, therefore easier visibility and discoverability).

What goals, if you mind me asking, were set that impose monochromy to default blender? If you have a quote/link I’d appreciate.
Like I said, greater customization would mean the ability to customize it back to the way that a lot of users appear to agree that was easier to recognize at a glance.


I really like your proposal …
but I would do it simpler simply …
I hope that the classification and coloring of the icons is divided into sectors, for example “modeling, animation modifiers, some subcategories”
and that these sectors have 3 levels of coloring, I do not know if it’s possible and I’m asking too much, but at the code level, the icons in svg can be changed the color variation for three layers, “low layer, middle layer and layer in high”
so you would have a complete personalization … that would satisfy everyone …
at that point I would not even care that the icons were all white in the default theme, important that it is customizable


Yup, something like that would be good. We don’t even have to make the colors unique for every icon - we can just define more icon categories. So, Modifiers, ObData, Materials, Collections, etc.

We also don’t need a saturation setting. A color picker per category would be enough.

We already have theme settings for:

  • Modifiers
  • Shading
  • Objects
  • Obdata
  • Collections

We could then also add

  • Toolbar tool
  • Toolbar tool Add
  • Toolbar tool Remove
  • Toolbar tool Modify
  • Toolbar tool Sculpt
  • Toolbar tool Sculpt Modify
  • Force Fields
  • Orientations
  • Snapping
  • Proportional Editing
  • Pivot
  • Record
  • Warning
  • Error
  • Individual theme options for the Properties header icons.
  • File Browser Folder
  • File Browser File
  • File Browser Blender File

I think that could be a start.


I agree, and I would also be very happy if we could change colors of categories (instead of each individual icon).


I don’t think it would solve the issue.
The icons needs colors, at least 2 colors for optimal readability (color coded ofc), something like this showed above:

Just tinting group of icons with one color is not the way to go imo.


In those examples there’s always a primary color and a secondary white (except for the lamp coil).
If there were a color changer field, it would change the primary, in those cases:
Green, Dark Green, Light Blue, Orange, Orange, Orange, Yellow, Yellow, Light Blue, Blue.
Ideally every icon would have one dominant main color and one shade of gray (all the way to white or black). If there were a third/fourth color, it would have to be a value/saturation variation of the main color, or a fixed hue.


I repeat what I wrote to @jendrzych on blenderartist for a better understanding here too

I believe it is not something that concerns the designer but the writing of the code, make sure that the color management is managed via code
3 layer for colors, top, middle,bottom that’s all

the only thing you need to do is to split this svg into 3 svg:
one that contains the low level (the outer parts of the icons, or in “shadow” etc)
one that contains the medium level (for example the body of the icon)
one that contains the top level (for example, the vertices)

then the developer will have to assemble these 3 svg in a single body with customizable icons in the colors …
is just an example to make you understand … I do not know exactly how technically it should be processed

then the colors entirely managed via code

the aim is the total customization, and it is not said that it must necessarily be the default theme to have the colors, as far as I’m concerned it can also remain entirely white, the important thing is that they are customizable


I do not either - I’m just a draftsman.


yes I understood
that reference is more for the competent in coding

roughly I think the logic of why the icons should be split into several parts is clear

I know that inkscape allows svg with more levels … but I do not know if the coders can extract the data of the levels from a single svg


Don’t worry about the implementation, we can easily figure that out once we know what the icons should look like.

I’m still missing mockups that show how the icons would be colored in a way that both improves the usability for quickly identifying icons that also looks good with the new icon set. Even just to get an idea of what the properties editor header should look like. There would be code to write, but it follows from a design.

I also haven’t seen a mockup for a light theme yet, it’s not clear to me that coloring works well there at all because you need to use quite dark colors for contrast, and it seems difficult to find good looking colors.


I think all we should need is to add some more icon theme categories. Then it’s up to the theme to pick the precise colors for each category. Finding the exact right colors and combinations for the default theme is almost a separate task that can be experimented with once the theme categories are in place.

We already have theme settings for:

  • Modifiers
  • Shading
  • Objects
  • Obdata
  • Collections

We could add:

  • Toolbar tool
  • Toolbar tool Add
  • Toolbar tool Remove
  • Toolbar tool Modify
  • Toolbar tool Sculpt
  • Toolbar tool Sculpt Modify
  • Force Fields
  • Orientations
  • Snapping
  • Proportional Editing
  • Pivot
  • Record
  • Warning
  • Error
  • Individual theme options for each Properties header icon.
  • File Browser Folder
  • File Browser File
  • File Browser Blender File

Can you think of any other obvious categories?


this is an example of the three-level coloring proposal

the colors chosen are irrelevant just to process the example

not all icons must necessarily have 2 or 3 level, in the icons in which there is no need of multiple colors, simply draw it entirely on one level, in this way, a color level is added only to the icons in which it is necessary. Doing so in the second and third color levels, the colors of the portion of icons where it is necessary color are influenced

in this way the first level influences the color of groups of icons
the second level affects only those portions of icons that need another color (for example in the mesh icon only the vertices) and so on …

in terms of design, the process in this way is also progressive, so the designer initially starts to test with the most necessary icons to have multiple colors … and if it works then a more elaborate coloring work is decided.


this is a representation of the list of categories with the three levels of color similar to the list proposed by @Evandro_Costa


these are sample portions of how the grid of icons in the 3 levels should be worked out


i made this mock up a while back to test colors in both light and dark themes and it reads reasonably okay, and i think the less saturated the better, what do u guys think?

and here with a lighter, which needed a bit of tweaking.


I really like the desaturated colors. I think the two color icons are the way to go. But default theme should be done in a subtle way so the colors aren’t too distracting. Similar to Znio’s proposal.


I would personally go for something like this, colouring only the elements that get repeated in different contexts of the interface:

About the properties editor: I find it really difficult to colour the icons there, if you colour everything it become even worse than without colour at all IMO, while colouring only a couple of them bring too much attention to the selected ones… I think that with the vertical alignment and a bit more breathing space they could stay white.