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Toon XP is orange, with reds and blues as highlights here and there... Its not mostly gray, or blue. It does not have a nice slim interface...

Yet it is one of the best suites out there. Could it be the fact that we all love cartoons or have seen them? It could be the bright colors that are entrenched in most societies minds as funny, friendly and even bring back memories. It could be that its just fun to look at.

What ever it is (Think over all GUI design it is a great piece of work. I asked on of its authors, Mormegil, answer some question and get into the mind of an artist.



What got you into skinning?

Master Mormegil: I started skinning because I was very picky about what my desktop looked like. I started making icons first, back with PC-TOOLS, on Windows 3.1. But was very bad at it. It wasn't for years that I found the techniques I use today.


> Out of all the things to skin, why are icons your 'thing'?

Master M:I think Icons became my thing because I have I like doing them, and they the easiest type of skin to use, even by non skinners. They are very useful for the average user. Also my design techniques lend them self to creating Icons. In a efficient way.


> What do you use to make icons?

Master M: I Design my Icons in CorelDRAW. At the moment Corel 11. But I use a Iconmakeing program to compile them into Icons. I used to use Iconworkshop, but now I am using Skin Studio, as it is a bit simpler to use, and seams to re-sample better.


> What do you think about when your trying to come up with a new design?

Master M: That is the hardest part for me. I will stair at the computer for weeks trying to come up with a style. Its hard to do something original. But I have had pretty good luck so far. However. I don't (usually) have any firm idea, I mostly just start doodling and see if I find anything I like.


> How do you go about making it a reality?

Master M: I mostly just open corel, and play with shapes. Until I come up with a style. I have some templates, I use to help me organize the pack, but as a rule, I mostly just start. And when I am done I stop. This can be quite a long time unfortunately.


> Any mistakes become a whole suite? Like a design gone wrong become a
new piece of art under a different name?

Master M: I have allot of stuff that I keep but don't use, I call them rejects, but sometime they are good enough to inspire a new suite. I have never done so though because of the mount of time it takes to do such a thing. And over the last few years, time has become very precise to me. As I don't seem to have much of it.


> How many e-mails have you received because of Toon XP?

Master M: I could not even guess, It would be in the thousands I am sure. I get allot of request for use of the Icons and such. Mostly I have to turn them down as much of the toon suite is the property of stardock.


> You were on Tech TV and you made a mini theme for The Screensavers, how did that come about?

Master M: I am addicted to TechTV, it is about the only thing I watch, as a matter of fact, having just moved to Michigan for my new job. I made most of my (decisions) on were to live by were I could have a Direct TV satellite so I could have my TechTV.

I made the themes for TechTV on for myself, and in the hopes that they might show them on the shows. At first this did not seam to work. But luckily Chris Parilo, the former host of Call For Help, and as a WinCustomize user, saw my Call For Help wall and put it up for a week or so. Then he lost it when his hard drive crashed, and wrote me to ask for a copy. I sent him a copy and motioned that if he ever wanted to do a demo on Icons, I would love to come up and do one. He ran it buy the powers that be and they said yes.

And there I was. It was quite a fun experience for me.

Ironically, they told him to quite using my wall because it was to busy. And after Chris left the show, and Leo Laporte comeback to host it. He seams
to have found the wall, and suddenly it was on almost every computer on the show, even the Mac. It has been on the show everyday now for at least 3 months. That's very cool. I don't know if Leo even knows I made it or was ever on the show. But I keep hoping that someday they will ask me back.


> Have any professional agencies approach you for work in advertising, promotions or application interface design?

Master M: I do quite a bit of freelance GUI Design, it has gotten to the point where I am having to turn down work. But it is very nice to do it when I can. I have a very fulfilling job at Stardock and am quite happy with things. But it is nice to know I could go full time freelance if I had to. At the moment I am trying to keep freelance work down to a few hours a day. A good example of my freelance work will shortly be available over at techTV as I just completed several themes that they will be posting on there site.


WHAT!!!! TechTV will have themes??? Cool.


> In the future, I will be putting out the 2nd part of a 3 part series on Windows skinning called Mainstream Skinning (see here:
http://www.wincustomize.com/newsboard.asp?id=1753 -- Mainstream Skinning) over the next month. Do you think 2004 will hold anything new for the world of skinning?


Master M: I have to admit that I have fallen out of touch with the skinning world over the last 4 or so months. I hope to dive back in soon. I think that 2004 will bring some major changes. To start with, though it might be (in) 2005, Longhorn is going to really change (the skinning world) allot, and I think it might kill quite a
few apps that are very popular at the moment.


> Will it be more commercial? What about free/community skins, do you think they will become scarce?

Master M: I think there will always be free skins, and community skins, even I still release more free stuff then I do for money. It is hard to make much money on a suite, and it is usably not worth the time you put it. But it is nice to make enough for a new computer or a upgrade, now and then. I am lucky in that I have made the decisions to let stardock distribute for me, and that allows for me to get much more exposure then I would get on my one.

The good skinners however will continue to find ways to charge for quality work, and they should. I know how much work goes in thing. And As any one who has ever done a complex skin, or Iconpackage will tell you it is truly work.

The real money in commercial skinning is getting well known on enough to get freelance design work. And I think you will see more Pixtudio's and Skinplants, in the future, to meat the demands of developers.


> Do you see yourself doing this full time? Part time?

Master M: I do skinning part time, I think form the amount of request I get I could do it full time, but I am happy with what I am doing and it would be a risk. At least at first. Maybe if stardock fires me


> What do you think of the few companies out there now doing skinning?

Master M: I have worked with Pixtudio several times, and They do great work. I am very happy that they have been as successful. Skinfactory dose top notch work. And Skinplant, while new on the seen is showing that they to will probably find they place. and more power to them. I think that only the best skinners will be able to find any profit in commercial skinning. And that is how it should be.


> Do you see GUI or UI of programs getting better? What about message boards, IM's, on-line schools, desktop original configurations and company desktops? (will a button be just a button anymore?) Do you feel website design (front end and back end), e-commerce, digital firms, and other on-line stuff will want someone who knows how to skin?

Master M: I find that yes, many developers want quality interfaces. There will always be those who are all about simple and clean. but To compete these days, it seams your apps have to have a good look. And most developers cant afford to have full time designers on staff, so it is creating quite a market for the commercial skinners to fill.



Here are some wonderful sites to visit mentioned in the story:

http://www.pixtudio.com
http://www.theskinsfactory.com
httP://www.skinplant.com

Take a look at ToonXP here:
http://www.wincustomize.com/store


Comments
on Oct 10, 2003
hmmmm.... maybe I should have shortened this one... allot of questions here.

Anyway, check out Mormegil's FauxS-TOON:

http://www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp?library=1&SkinID=3244


on Oct 10, 2003
on Oct 11, 2003
M A S T E R

Thanks for great themes. You make my computer much more fun.
on Oct 11, 2003
Mormegil - where did you go ??? what are you doing at stardock ?

i have pixOS and TOON as they are so great.
maybe you could put your rejects or some templates in SKINSTUDIO for us to get inspired.

p.s.
any follow ups to PixOS or Toon-XP ?! please !!!
on Oct 11, 2003
I still say that Toon XP is one of the best, if not the best, suites out there. I enjoy using it. Any chance of it being update for WB4?
on Oct 11, 2003
Very cool Joe....
on Oct 11, 2003
Mormegill, Your Icons are awesome as usual and congrats on the stardock job.

TasT is still waiting for the Grayscale FauxS-X for XP.
on Oct 11, 2003
I loved Toon XP. I was probably one of the first to buy it. My computer crashed probably a year ago, I'm not sure, but I haven't been able to get Toon to work right since. I;ve contacted Stardock, and they sent some stuff that was supposed to make it work. It did'nt. I bought Object Desktop. Now I can get part of it, but not the Desktopx stuff, and various other stuff. If you do update it, please send me an e-mail, so maybe I can get it working again. Peace. Hippie
on Oct 11, 2003
I still can't get over the part about Tech TV wanting themes. I know I will love to see that definaitly.
on Oct 11, 2003
Mormegill, Agree with all the others....your stuff has always been top-drawer!! I'm with TasT - can't wait for the Grayscale FauxS-X for Xp!! Love that Grayscale!! Kudos Paul!!
on Oct 11, 2003
on Oct 12, 2003
Blush.....
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