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Reader UI of the Week: Custom Creation


I've been sitting on this UI for a while, and I'm really not sure why, as it offers a lot of great elements. Kiebs, the submitter, send in a very short email, simply because he had very, very few addons to share with us, the majority of the work behind his UI is, as we can see from the header image, covered in the design. Kiebs designs his UI elements himself. He covers this in his very, very brief email, which I'll pop in below.

Kiebs writes:
Here's an artsy one for you. I noticed you don't see many of them, but I like designing UI artwork in photoshop, and I use KGPanels to add them into the game. I then rearrange the bars with bartender and change cast bar etc. This is my PvP Monk so... very few addons, I like to keep it real simple.

KGpanels, CoolLine, Bartender, CoolDownCount, Chatter, TidyPlates. (unseen ones as well obviously for PvP, Gladius, Afflicted3 etc..)

Also threw in my Mage one that I'm working on at the moment for PvE. Like I said, nothing crazy raid worthy, just some fun!
Kiebs also sent in several screenshots, showing off his rather minimal UI.

He included the following images of his UI: The design image, the finished artwork, an idle image, a casting image, one with cooldown timers showing, and an in-combat image of the UI in action.

Notable Points

Of course, the main thing to point out with Kiebs' UI is the user-created element. Kiebs shows off two different home-made artwork panels in the previously linked images, one of which he shows the creation of in Photoshop, and the other of which, in the action shot, is somewhat more elaborate.

Reader UI of the Week Custom Creation
As Kiebs mentions, he uses kgPanels to add his custom artwork into the game, something which this very flexible addon is rarely used for to its full potential. I for one, and surely some others, would love to see more of Kiebs' artwork, and perhaps even download it for our own use.

It should be noted that Kiebs is very clear on the purpose of this UI in his email. He specifically says that it's a creative task, not specifically designed to be ultra-functional for raiding, and we should therefore try our best to assess it from that standpoint, not criticize it for the absence of crucial raiding elements. However, several of the screenshots are of a PvP UI, so we can at least look at it from that angle, and assess its usefulness as well as its beauty.

Good Things

As you may have noticed, I really like the custom art. I think it ties in really nicely with the WoW look, the standard UI elements don't seem out of place around it, particularly the unit frames. It just seems to blend well. And I like the overall look of it too, I think my preference is actually for the faction-branded Horde art in the combat UI shot above, over the more minimal art in all the other shots. As someone who's usually chasing after minimalism in their UI, that's really saying something. On the monk UI, though, I really, really like the subtle skinning of the six floating buttons above the main panel, it looks fantastic, and I strongly suspect that Kiebs has done this himself, just like the other art. I can really imagine downloading these pieces of artwork from somewhere and incorporating them into my own UI. Share, Kiebs, share your skills with us all.

I really, really like the castbar incorporation in all the UI shots Kiebs has sent over. The castbar is often a tricky part of UIs which are looking for a seamless feel, as it hovers awkwardly around the middle of the screen, messing things up. Creating a panel section for it like Kiebs has done is a great look, and on the mage shot, I really, really like what I'm assuming is the GCD spark below it. I do rather wonder, though, where the target castbar would appear. It might hover beneath the target frame in its standard place, which would look fine, but I'd have loved to see a stacked look to the art panel that also incorporated the target castbar in some manner. Maybe I'm too focused on it, but interrupting is really important, especially for PvP!
Reader UI of the Week Custom Creation
Looking at the monk UI above, again, full screenshots are available in the link list, I really like the look of it. There appear, from my very limited knowledge of monk spell icons, to be five key abilities floated above the bar, and some key cooldowns beneath, with the castbar sitting in between. I love the layout, although I wonder whether there's really enough space on the bars. To be fair, though, maybe I have too many abilities on show.

And that brings us to my very favorite part of this UI. I absolutely love how the castbar and cooldown bar occupy the same space. It's such a brilliant use of space, you can see it best in the mage in-combat screenshot above, where the castbar moves onto the space occupied by the cooldowns. There is, in that screenshot, a slight text overlap issue, but it's nothing serious. The cooldowns move in the same direction as the castbar, for some reason I'd assumed they'd go the opposite way when I first looked at this UI, but I think either works equally well.

Not-so-good things

I've had to work really hard here not to criticise from a PvE raiding perspective. There are various things that might not be perfect for these tasks, but Kiebs specifically states that raiding isn't his purpose.

I do wonder if there are too few buttons visible. The mage UI displays only eleven, to the monk UI's eighteen, but I have to admit that I play neither any kind of monk nor an arcane mage. Perhaps that is actually plenty of buttons and I'm not aware of it! But if this UI were to be taken across other classes and specs, I would love to see another action bar added beneath the main one, and the design panel increased somewhat in size. Having so few abilities visible makes me nervous!

Other than that, I'd love to see the minimap's cluster of icons pared down. Some judicious use of MoveAnything does a great deal for the standard minimap, just allowing things to be reshuffled and made to look a little more tidy. For example, both the two addon buttons to the left of the clock and the tracking button could be shuffled around to the right-hand side, making everything look a little more well-placed.

The mage UI's in-combat shot reveals more addons than any of the others, and I think it's the fact that I like the custom artwork look of the UI so much that is perhaps making me extra-picky, but I'd love to see a little more customization of the other elements that appear in that shot. Even just matching the textures of the pretty, central part would be a start! And I'm not sure whether I'd change the chat pane or not. I'd like a little more font consistency, a constant bugbear of mine, but in a way I think the very light, minimal chat panel looks good simply because of how it fades into the background around the pretty center panel. All in all, good job Kiebs! Now just set it up so we can download a Kiebs Art Pack!

Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.

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