I'm trying to make a new gtk theme using the murrine engine, using Humanity (default in ubuntu 9.10) as a template.

You can grab the code in http://github.com/tutuca/themes

However, I found cumbersome the process of creating a new theme with it. There is no central starting point.

The documentation of both, the engine options (gtkrc's and stuff), and general theming practices (the format of the index.theme files, folders, bla bla) is scarce, How to's and tutorials are often old or subject to lots of opinionated debate and results confusing (to me, having a web developer background, at least :-).

So... I wanted to ask to the fellows gtk themers and artist out there:

Which tools you use to create a new theme, and how does your average workflow looks like?

  • Are you asking what graphics editor to use, etc.? Aug 3, 2010 at 22:59
  • Not specifically. The question is about the workflow, making a new theme often involves editing configuration files, tests to know that it's working properly, knowing about the options the a certain engine supports. It's about that kind of things.
    – tutuca
    Aug 3, 2010 at 23:22

3 Answers 3


There is the widget laboratory from one of my cohorts, Isaiah Heyer. That may be of use to you.

  • Interesting, I've been using The Widget Factory (a fork? or is it the other way around), but I've found it buggy and not very useful. I'll give TWL a try
    – tutuca
    Aug 4, 2010 at 19:22
  • 1
    I believe the widget factory is a completely separate project. The two are just similarly named. Aug 4, 2010 at 19:42
  • Laboratory, not Laboritory ;-)
    – Isaiah
    Aug 4, 2010 at 22:33

The widget laboratory or the widget factory is only for viewing your theme, to edit your theme graphically, try to use gnome color chooser. It's fun apps for experiment.


GTK programmers will tell you that writing a GTK theme is easy. If you have a full understanding of how GTK is put together, then that may be so, but if you don’t have a great knowledge of the GTK API and you want to change the visual appearance of your GTK applications. Its not difficult stuff, but can appear to be somewhat random and non-intuitive due to its close correlation with the underlying widget structure.1

1Source: developer.gnome.org

There are many websites out there that has information on how to create GTK themes. It would be a hassle to include information from all of them, and try to cite everything. I will be leaving you with a couple of links at the end, that will help you in your process.

GTK themes in Gnome 3 have a new syntax that is different from GTK2. The new CSS syntax in GTK3 makes it easier to create themes. Though it is easy to understand the CSS syntax than the old gtkrc syntax, it is not enough to know just CSS.

You probably won't want to get a theme up and running from scratch. You probably should start by modifying an existing theme. The theme that you choose, will affect the quality, ease of customization and maintainability of your theme.

Choose a GTK3 engine

The theme engine is what draws the theme. Different theme engines may support different features and syntax.

The Adwaita engine is from the official Gnome project. If you want to make a simple theme, choose this. Read on..2


The GTK+ Project

Gtk Theme Creation Guide


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