Icon change to visual design of Folder Groups in Layer Docker to aid visibility.

Hello, I have been using Krita for just around a week, so far the brush engine is great, the zoom panning and vectors work fantastic, there´s also almost no lag when painting on big 4k files, all this fill my needs to paint up to 90%, so I will be using it for the foreseeable future.

There´s some things that sill need work tho, like:
The brush manager bugs and usability, the layer FX could be optimized to be a bit faster and there’s some features that are still missing, the text tool can also use an upgrade to have a more intuitive system, most of this things I noticed I read are being worked on which is very cool, and I know they will take some time to be implemented, (so I will still need to use a few other apps to solve some of the things Krita cant do yet), and when the are ready it will be fun to have all my painting workflow on one app.

Now that introductions are out of the way this is my request:
I would like to have an icon change, right now the icons for the layers and folders/groups are too similar at glance, now don’t get me wrong, I think the designer intention was to make the design look unified and to that end it works, but in this case I believe this type of layers needs to stand out a bit more so that when I look at a file that has a lot of nested and stacked layers in various groups I can pick a layer or a group fast.

I made this quick mock up to show what I mean, I would be happy to do the icon changes my self but I’m not a programmer so I cant implement them, I can draw them tho.

The idea is to have the layers where you paint have the little icon on the left change in color with the rest of the layer when the user asks for color change on that layer, when the user has not asked for a color for the layer it can remain as the current icon for layer is right now.

For the group layers when you assign a color to the group, the layer changes to the color selected, but I think the icon for the folder should remain as I drew in this mock up, meaning it remains as a yellow icon,
even if the group has color, that signals in a complex file that all those are folder/group layers, you can´t draw on those layers, hence you quickly visually triage your file layers and open the group you need and select the layer you need to draw.

Ok, let me know what you think of the idea, cheers!

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Color differentiated icons are never a good idea.

Actually, sometimes I confuse group ‘layer’ with actual layer and think for a moment that I have small or hiding selection or I am catching a bug that blocking to draw. I work on 13" cintiq, so icons of folder and layer icon pretty small and it looks sort of similar. So @Renderluz has a point.

I suggest may be not a color change but just change places between folder icon of a group and the thumb of a group. It should look differentiating from layer with usual “thumb - icon” order.


Why? I mean I wrote an explanation about why I like this idea, if you don’t think I’m making sense please elaborate, color coding in graphic design is used on every signal post around the world and in applications, also keeping a class of items separated by color make identification easier, that’s the whole propose of giving us the option to color code the layers and groups in colors.
Groups are a whole different class of objects that have a very different purpose than drawing layers, (there’s some overlap with effects but by and large they are different i.e. container/content dualism) and being able to identify they fast would be very helpful in complex files, so as to not waste time trying to find the layer you wish to pain on.
I have a file with close to maybe 100 layers, with folders and sub folders to control all the items in it, finding the layer I want to paint to, takes me more attention than it should because at glance all the icons of groups and layers appear the same: same color, same outline design, same relative size, so then I have to take some extra seconds to actually see the icons (as in an a deliberate act) and then pick my painting layer, this should not take more than a glance, i.e. the way I see things groups should be clearly different than layers.

I’m also not suggesting we use a million of colors for each place of the UI, I think having a restriction on how many you can use is fine, and doing so also makes for clearer visual design, however when you restrict that too much you also make things unclear.
This is the reason that I thought the color of the group icons should always be pale yellow, (just the outside whole stripe of the group can change color, while the layers do change in icon and color stripe color) this not only makes use to the fact our brain are predisposed to view folders as yellow objects, but also makes that class of objects that serve as containers rather than drawing canvases clearly distinct, so there´s a clearer visual design, I believe this idea would help the user to navigate the layer stack more efficiently than how the layers and groups look at the moment, i.e. having the highly similar transparent gray outline icons we have now, and also there’s not so much color that you get the opposite effect and all is chaos again.

I not sure I follow what pieces/icons you wish to swap, but I’m all for any ideas that would make a difference between groups and layers better :slight_smile: could you do a simple mock-up?
If this is also easier to implement maybe the Devs would like the idea as well.

Given that a group layer has in itself no content, I think that the group icon should be left as a grey colour if the layer is coloured.

I like the idea of extending the colour of a group layer down the right side of the Layers docker. This could be done all the way down the highest level group along the ‘alpha locked’ icon column, then the next inner level group colour could go down the ‘inherit alpha’ column, then the one after that down the ‘locked’ column.

That way you would have up to three levels of grouping structure made very obvious by the extent of their colour down the right side.

Here the thing I am talking about:

The same size and same color icon with small arrow are only visual distinguish between group and layer. So i suggest switching thumb with icon. It makes some distinction in the ideal column of layers.

And here comparison with other apps. Think at the moment where the faster you may point where is group layers and where are layers:

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Windows users maybe…
But windows users are not the only one users :slight_smile:
I think people are more predisposed with shapes rather than color…

Which one can be considered as a folder? Blue one or Yellow one ? :sweat_smile:
:file_folder: :lemon:

Looking this screenshot, for my personal point of view, these case are not useable:

Here is an example of layer stack on one of my drawing: many group folders, with sub-group folders

And what is interesting here, I’m able to have a quick overview of a group folder content and I’m faster to determinate in which folder I have to go than example where only a folder icon is drawn…
In “other app”, we don’t have any idea of group content…

Concerning this solution:

Inverting group icon seems not to be a good idea, for me it give the impression the paint layer 2 is a sub-folder of paint layer 3

But when there’s too much color, it’s difficult to determinate what is really important…
And maybe for you color are important, but for some other people it can be distracting, especially when drawing (I personaly like to have a neutral b&w interface)

And on my side, group layer is at the same level than other layers, and I’m not sure to really understand why they have to be rendered differently

I agree, icon are very small
May be bigger icons could be a good thing


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it is not by chance that all editor programs started to taking out color coding out of their interfaces.

The simple reality is that some colors pull more attention than other by their very nature voiding the utility of visibility of those around them that have less fortunate color schemes. if you really want a color you should just use the accent color of the theme being used alone. because the contrast of the shape should be work much more than the yellow is this and blue is this and red is that.

And the problem with colors too is that if someone makes a theme closer to one of you chosen colors they will loose visibility of that icon compared to the others too. so a more neutral tone you can shift the grey is much better regardless as it will retain consistency.

hence why I say color coding is a bad idea. you solve one problem by creating many more.
I9S posted examples of much better choices as alternatives to solve that.

My suggestion would probably just shift its size a bit like this like on one of the suggestions:

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Just imagine you have + thumb like in Kirta next to a folder :slight_smile: . I’am trying to say that layers and folders are visually blending together and I need + some time to determine which one is layer and which one is folder, in contrast with other apps where folder is more discernible in layer stack.

The same with you screenshot - it was some tensely to me to define folders from layers. Moreover because you thumbs are huge and icons are very tiny all that you have in root folder looks similar.

So yah, making an icon folder bigger is a good suggestion too.


Im not sure if my eyes can see more subtle color than most… but on that screen shot what I see is folder colored on extremely pale yellow, (almost gray, but they do have a tinge of yellow hue) I’m not sure if your intent was to probe or disprove my statement tho :wink: Windows folder are default yellow, and in Linux too tho I think you can change the color of the folders there, (in Windows too for that matter) PS group layers are gray tho, but they are made so they are distinctly different in design to internal painting layers, something like that would work as well, so Im cool with gray, and Im cool with color.

I like the preview thumbs for groups and folders, that´s something I think Krita does really well, so I would not like them gone, I still advocate to color the small folder icon, the paint layers default color looks fine the way it is right now, just like a watermark icon, (I only suggested coloring the icon when you ask Krita to color the entire layer stripe) for the folders as you can see on this mock-up by just making them pale yellow I can see at that list and quickly see which are groups and which are not.
When I saw you screenshot before I read what you wrote I thought the whole list inside -Main- were groups layers, because the first 5 where group layers and the rest of the icons going down are so similar that my brain though: Ok they are all the same, think of them as group layers, then I had to go over each one and to my surprise the last 3 where paint and vector layers, you know your file structure so it seem evident to you which ones are layers and which ones are groups, but for a person glancing at the file its not, this is why I want them to be a bit more distinct, I’m not advocating for color chaos, just a ting of hue, so when I look at a file I don’t have to think about where the layers are and I can focus on painting.

Folder color_1

The folder icons could also be a bit bigger…just a few pixels, just enough so they separate from the paint layers in terms of hierarchy, mmm they could even remain the same way they are as water mark icons but just a bit bigger than the painting layers… however I think a color change is the easiest route since changing size would throw the system out of wack in terms of icon location and more programming might be needed, while I image (I could be wrong) that a color change is less complicated to implement.

Just for reference, a link to the design discussion over the current Layer Docker: https://phabricator.kde.org/M11/32/ (it talks about stuff like thumbnails for groups and why the thumbnails is before the icon etc.)

Also for the record, that’s how my folders look like now (and always):

And that’s how they look like when I select pink color scheme in my system settings:

I’m against using yellow for group layers because it’s not as universal as one would think; Windows has no themes, but on other systems there are themes that do affect stuff like colors. Moreover, Krita itself has themes that affect colors. The default one is greyish blue for accent, but there are others, dark gold, pinks, purples, greens, all colors of the rainbow. It may not look good.
(Theme and screenshot stolen from New themes for Krita! from @Zoldyako , edited with your suggestion)

There are already some people saying that Krita doesn’t look modern enough, colored icons would just make it even more looking that way :stuck_out_tongue:

Also maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t make me distinguish it more… And I think I might not even use icons for distinguishing groups at all - I just know whether it’s a group or not by looking at the name, or the >, or color labels, or generally it’s very contextual. Maybe that’s because they are hard to distinguish, or maybe other things are enough.

There is also a problem that for some work or some artists want everything to just be grey, as grey as possible, with no tint, because it can fool your eyes. When you’re working on something color-sensitive, you don’t want any tint. There are grey themes for Krita, they are extremely ugly in my personal opinion but they are there and everyone can do one for themselves. Yellow group layers would be the only thing they cannot change because it’s not affected by the theme…

Regarding suggestion “icons should be bigger” - from what I can see, they definitely should sometimes scale up… However it might be difficult to maintain pixel perfectness if icons are scaled.

Regarding this suggestion:

That would work somewhat better, but I’m not sure if this is a good idea since it can make it look as if it was a child of the upper layer. Especially since there were some plans at some point to make the indent of inside layers configurable (mostly for people who use lots of levels - so that the name of the layer has a chance to show up).

My suggestion, maybe just coloring the folder in with 50% of the color would be good enough:

But tbh, first we’d need to check how many people have those issues and see if we can maybe edit those icons to not be both so sqaurish, if it’s needed. @Animtim was thinking of making an icon overhaul for Krita 5.0.0, but for every icon change we really really good reason for it to change. (Tbh I’m more for changing the icon than making it yellow).


I like this idea a lot :slight_smile: , Im fine with color or grey, but I do think a more visually distinct differentiation between folders and layers is needed, I’m working with a very big file and I’m always struggling to navigate it.

Well I do agree on that. I too have the same issue of really tiny icons in the layers and it is pretty had to distinguish them apart because of the size of the screen.

But I am totally on the being grey side of things. To me the interface should be behind on what your working on.

But this thread does remind me of the icon proposal that I never ended properly due to my lack of a linux computer (no merge request possible). I was working on the tool icons but I did want to tackle the layers stack next. Maybe I should try giving it a go again now that I can.


I honestly think colors in a interface are actually helpful, would be great if there was the possibility to add colors to krita icons, maybe like blender does it.
Don’t know if this is related to my adhd but colors are actually helpful for me to identify things, sometimes I spot the color first and then the shape. So this might help with accessibility of the software/user experience.
But things that needs to be taken into consideration:

  1. Don’t use only color to differentiate things, this would mess up with color blind people
  2. Try to use colors that are safe for color blind people or have a color blind mode, or even let us change the color of the icons. Maybe people who do themes would also enjoy this.
  3. I also agree that defaulting to yellow for folders is not universal, so again being able to change the color could be helpful.

But to me this looks like a nice feature to have. But as you said you are no programmer this might be in limbo until someone decides to work on it.


That’s how Photoshop’s UI operates… it works, but it also removes the thumb from the groups, I think having a thumbnail that shows the content of the group is useful tho, so I’m of the opinion that they should not be removed, right now the last option of tiar i.e. to simply fill the icon with 50% gray seems to me the most sensible option, I’m guessing its easy to implement, and while the official new UI is completed, I suggest that if the Devs are Ok with this, for this idea to be applied into the nightly builds.

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At least until recently, Photoshop didn’t have a choice between pass-through and render-group group layers. Krita started out with render-group group layers and added pass-through groups five years ago, so the thumbnail for group layers (that can also have masks and things) is really important – because that’s still the default.

If at all we need to add colour to that icon in my opinion I think @tiar 's 50% gray would be good. I think right now group layers are already distinguished because of the indentation it is not that confusing for me personally, but I understand when the group layer is collapsed it can lead to some confusion. Playing with indentation or placement of the icon is really hard since both option give inconsistencies.

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