"Professional" looking gui's made with Max

    Aug 26 2010 | 11:22 pm
    Hi Guys,
    can anyone direct me to some links to some "professional" looking gui's of things made with max? I work for Akai and they just rejected a little player i made to release for free with an upcoming product because they thought the gui made it look like a toy compared to apps competitors release with their products. Image attached... i was going for the flat Ableton look...
    They probably want virtual hardware , 3d looking.
    Any suggestions / patch links as to how to make custom knobs and such would be much appreciated.

    • Aug 26 2010 | 11:31 pm
      ya, so basically people are pretty familiar with basic interface elements of max5 and max4(your dials at the topright of your interface make it particularly obvious, the buttons at the bottom are a bit too simple and you could use a bit more of a 3d look to the whole thing particularly for akai products). what you want to do is use custom pics(i make mine in flash(as a series) and then convert within photoshop, others incorporate illustrator for better file handling and diversity of design tools).
      use objects like [pictctrl] and [pictslider] (and [matrixctrl] and [fpic] and [lcd]) all with only your own custom graphics(you also want to try to design those graphics with meticulousness... i use a 3d animating app(swift3d) to have a more diversified graphical sculpting tool(lighting, shading, etc.), then import into flash, then convert within photoshop... you could probably do all of this in jitter... but don't always have the time).
      check out the videos here for the new stringport app by keithmcmillen which has a pretty nice interface(albeit, very particular to keith and his dev's tastes, it still breaks free of the normal Max UI limitations):
      it's difficult to say that something looks like a 'toy' when most of us know that in the future, everything current will eventually look outdated and more like a 'toy' everyday(my akai mpd32 looks like a toy compared to a monome, lemur, ipad or even most of the vestax midi controllers)... but seems that's just an irony we all have to deal with.
    • Aug 27 2010 | 2:50 am
      On first impression of looking at that screenshot, there appear to be too many different "types" of UI elements and colours on the Interface. To some degree this is an impression based on the fact that some elements (ie rotary dials) are quite small and spaced out compared to other things like the waveform views and buttons which are more tigthly spaced. The backround gradient (and panel palcement ) may be maiking things appear "messier" too. Also, I wold lose the frames/outlines unless there is a good reason to keep them - maybe to delineate functionally distinct areas of the UI).
      In my opinion the starting point for a UI is to make it as *simple* and "flat" as possible (even if it is "3D") and then add or change things from that point when needed or justified. Try and make all elements of the same type (and spaces between them) appear uniform - I think this issue has come up on the list before though but didn't search.
      Of course tall the above is - just my opinion. And yeah, those stringport modules look pretty neat
    • Aug 27 2010 | 11:56 am
      Definately make your GUI more concise: use for example only red, white and black. That will help. Resize the rotary controllers, make them bigger and put them closer together. Also align your objects, the 4 buttons on the left side are not aligned and even not the same size. Little things but a user gets annoyed by this little imperfections.
    • Aug 27 2010 | 2:21 pm
      Hi, as an interaction designer I can say that generally, the possibilities in Max for interface design are not the limiting factor, it's more about the skill of interface (and graphic) design.
      The comments above provide some good tips. And with fpic, ubutton, textbutton, pictctrl and pictslider and a dose of Photoshop, you can make pretty much everything you want.
      Regarding your interface: make a choice between rounded or straight edges. You can't have both. And bright red should be used very sparsely. Just for accents, not for surfaces or panels.
    • Aug 27 2010 | 4:30 pm
      If you really want control over your UI design, then pictctrl is the object for you. That's how we do many of the UI elements at KMI.
      And, good UI design is a serious skill. That's not my specialty, but I think the previous comments are good. Not being a visual artist, I try to keep things as simple and clean as possible. Looking at Live is not a bad idea at all. They do a good job of minimizing the UI; anything that distracts from actually using the interface is probably a bad idea.
    • Sep 14 2010 | 2:19 am
      Hi Guys thanks for the feedback,
      Conformed they want it to look 3d. The form factor with the knobs is to match the hardware, which is spaced out like that. But those UI objects are prolly the answer. I messed with 3ds Max several years ago, perhaps I will need to re-acquaint myself. It almost seems UI stuff at that level is a job for ID... but alas if it's going to happen I will prolly have to make it happen.
      Any other links would be helpful too
    • Sep 14 2010 | 2:32 am
      Hmm... is there any way to buy a little suite of 3d looking knobs / faders / buttons UI stuff for MAX 5 ?
    • Sep 14 2010 | 4:31 am
      No suites that I know of, but you can make your own ones pretty easily with KnobMan, which is free, and offers quite a bit of control: http://www.g200kg.com/en/software/knobman.html
      You might be able to find KnobMan files by searching Google; for example I just found this: http://www.lesliesanford.com/KnobManStuff/KnobManStuff.shtml
    • Sep 14 2010 | 9:02 pm
      back when i was using max4 i did that sort of thing with mspaint, pictctrl, etc.
      it was fairly tedious, but it ended up looking pretty nice.