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KDE4 introduces some major changes in color schemes. Here you will find an overview of some new color-related features, as well as a preview of the new color schemes.

This should probably go somewhere better (like, "the documentation"?). For now techbase (with winterz' "highly-unofficial" permission) is being abused as a dumping ground for screenshots, in order to try to solicit feedback from kde-artists.


  • Inactive Text
    • Used for text that should be subdued (e.g. comments, extended file information)
  • Active Text
    • Used for text that wants to draw attention to itself, or is "active" (e.g. hovered links)
  • Link Text
  • Visited Text
    • This, and the previous one, should be obvious :-).
  • Negative Text
    • Used for errors, etc.
  • Neutral Text
    • Used for text that wishes to set itself apart, but does not belong to the other roles (e.g. warnings, secure content).
  • Focus Decoration
    • Used to indicate what control will respond to keyboard input. For example, default buttons use this, input widgets use this when they have focus, etc.
  • Hover Decoration
    • Used to draw 'hover' (mouseover) effects.

The "Common Colors" set allows setting the most important colors in one place. Note that "Selection Inactive Text" means "Inactive Text" belonging to the "Selection" set, and is not related to inactive effects in any way. Also note that currently no auto-calculation is performed, so you need to go to each set to specify the alternate background color.


KDE4 introduces "state effects"; three effects that can be applied to inactive windows, and disabled widgets.

  • Intensity
    • Allows adjusting the overall brightness. 'shade' adjusts luma by an absolute amount (-1.0 to 1.0), 'darken' and 'lighten' adjust by a percentage, where negative percentages are allowed (e.g. -50% results in new_luma = 1.5 * old_luma).
  • Color
    • Allows adjusting the overall color, either by multiplying the chrome ('desaturate' - again, negative values are allowed, which results in increasing the chroma), mixing with another color ('fade'), or tinting with another color ('tint'). Tinting tends to change hue/chroma much more rapidly while preserving luma.
  • Contrast
    • Allows adjusting only foreground colors, so that e.g. text becomes less prominent. The effects are 'fade' and 'tint'; the background color is used as the target.

NOTE: Inactive effects cause additional window repaints that some people may find annoying, or may cause performance problems on older machines.


  • Apply inactive window color effects
    • The built-in color schemes define inactive effects. If you do not wish to use them, this provides an easy way to turn them off. (default=off)
  • Inactive selection changes color
    • KDE4 strives to join the rest of the world by using a different color for selection in widgets that do not have focus, enhancing Usability. Due to performance concerns, the default is off until these can be addressed, hopefully in Qt 4.5, but if you have a good computer, you are strongly encouraged to try enabling this.
    • Because inactive window effects incur the performance penalty anyway, checking 'apply inactive window color effects' will enable this option if it has not been manually clicked (similarly, unchecking said option will disable this one in the same situation).
  • Shade sorted column in lists
    • This is currently not implemented by listviews :-(.
  • Contrast
    • This controls the strength of 3D effects.


The author (Matthew Woehlke, also the creator of all of these color schemes, with varying levels of inspiration or blatant copying) apologizes for the marketing spiel you are about to be subjected to if you read this section ;-).

Screenshots are coming.

Blue Deep

Rich blues, vibrant yet soothing, threaten to pull you into the watery depths of this scheme. This is a port of the KDE3 scheme by the same name.


Bright, shiny gray with just a touch of blue, combined with vibrant blue accents, conjures the feel of polished metal, as well as memories of Keramik and Plastik schemes from KDE3.


Soft shades of sand are accented by rich red. This scheme is a port of the KDE3 scheme by the same name.

Desert Night

Rich orange reflects moonlit dunes, while striking blue reflects the sky above, in this echo of a desert at night. (Brought to you by the same dubious idea that produced Water Orchid. Also likely to go.)

Evening Lilac

Dusty gray-purple with touches of green bring to mind a lilac bush on a warm summer night.

Highland Mist

Pale shades of green with a touch of blue accents evoke images of grass-covered hills shrouded in fog.


Soft shades of gray touched by yellow mix with honey-colored highlights to give an impression of bees, or perhaps BeOS.

Midnight Meadow

Dark shades of green shimmer with unearthly light in this scheme inspired by the glow of a sea of lush green grass in the deep of night.


Kudos if you can figure out the reference here. Due to questionable content, it will not be posted ;-). This scheme added at the request of Eike Hein, and inspired by Charamel for Firefox

Obsidian Coast

Inspired by movies of dark waves breaking against tall, black cliffs, this scheme (a dark version of Whitewater) is perfect for those that love a sense of foreboding, or just the rich, natural look of volcanic glass.


Soft shades of red invoke feelings of muted passion.


Warm gray, subtle gold, and striking cyan come together in a warm industrial tribute to classic skyscrapers in the late afternoon sun.

Stone Orchid

Rich gray with a hint of floral meets soft cyan and vibrant royal-purple accents in this scheme inspired by orchids, and KDE3's Solaris.


Gray mingled with green joins blue accents in this outdoor scheme inspired by grass and rocks against a clear sky.

Water Orchid

Attempting to bring to mind a beautiful purple flower against a turquoise background, this scheme instead looks like a mad candy store. (Here we see the peril of making color schemes from wallpapers, and a Microsoft one at that. This one is almost certain to get the axe before 4.0.)

White Peach

Inspired by a juice label, this scheme brings pale-but-bright peachy reminiscent of juice by the same name and welds it with floral green accents.


Calling to mind the river canyons of Colorado, this neutral scheme features a deep, earthy/rocky gray base with blue accents.

Wonton Soup

Created from the KDE3-era wallpaper of the same name, this scheme was made by Matthew Woehlke, who uses (and has used, for about two years) it as his KDE3 scheme.


Reminiscent of the computers in the fictional city of the same name from the Matrix trilogy, this scheme features mainly black foreground elements on a starkly white background. It is included in kdeaccessibility and is intended to aid users with visual difficulties.

Zion (Reversed)

An inverse of the Zion scheme, this provides white-on-black elements, again maximizing contrast.

This page was last edited on 25 March 2008, at 12:27. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.