Improve the default selection of photographic wallpapers
Open, WishlistPublic

Description

So in T10218 and T10219 Nate's proposing shipping the plasma-workspace-wallpapers package by default. Aside from agreeing with him in thinking this would be a good decision, I'd also like to propose that we improve this package. In this post I analyze the existing wallpapers, set goals for new ones and suggest some thematic guidelines. Because I don't want to presume grand expertise, I'd also like to hear what everyone else thinks, and discuss things in this task first!

A summary of the current state\Arguments for making the change:

  • our current choice of wallpapers doesn't indicate an existence of a plan for providing various favorite wallpaper themes
  • JPEG/PNG quality is inconsistent, some wallpapers are better than others
  • aesthetic quality is inconsistent, some wallpapers are better than others
  • design-wise on the whole current wallpapers are good, but could be even better
  • other DEs such as Deepin, Gnome or Elementary are beating us
  • we haven't had any change in a while (roughly 3 years)

Which goals should we set?

  • provide wallpapers of satisfactory JPEG/PNG quality -> preferably up to 4K resolutions, but minimally aim for top notch quality on 1080p screens
  • provide a varied thematic choice
  • provide wallpapers of great aesthetic quality
  • strive to offer a mixture of dark and light wallpapers

Analyis of existing wallpapers:

1) Autumn 5.5

  • type: light
  • a super charming wallpaper, but at the same time you could fault it for not pointing to the level of professionalism you'd want to show with our default selection... however, I'd like to hear what others think
  • suggestion: removal, but see what others think

2) By the water

  • type: light
  • it suffers from both an overuse of a gradient map (meaning that the image is too artifically colored) and from graininess
  • suggestion: removal

3) Cold Ripple

  • type: both dark and light
  • well executed, clean, but at the same time users might not find it too interesting?
  • suggestion: remove if something better is found

4) Colorful cups

  • type: light
  • a very well executed wallpaper, although thematically it might not be too interesting to a great number of users
  • suggestion: not sure

5) Darkest hour

  • type: dark
  • the quintiseential soothing wallpaper
  • maybe needs a little bit of clean-up work to remove noise, but may also just not be HQ enough
  • suggestion: remove if something better is found

6) Evening Glow

  • type: more light than dark
  • this a really, really nice wallpaper with great colors, unfortunately the PNG quality unfortunatly doesn't even satisfy in 1080p (the sky in particular is fairly low quality) :(
  • suggestion: removal

7) Fallen Leaf

  • type: light
  • really nice, I have nothing to criticize
  • suggestion: keep it

8) Flying Konqui

  • type: light
  • same as "Autumn Girl", extremely cute, but design-wise it seems outdated (mostly because it overuses gradients)
  • suggestion: removal (or revamp?)

9) Grey

  • type: in between dark and light
  • a well executed photo but might not be too interesting for our users? Especially since they might want something else out of cityscape wallpapers.
  • suggestion: not sure

10) Kite

  • type: more dark than light
  • a nice wallapaper
  • suggestion: keep it

11) One Stands Out

  • type: darkish
  • PNG quality doesn't seem 100%, wallpaper is too contrasted
  • suggestion: removal

12) Pastel Hills

  • type: light
  • nice abstract wallpaper, but we may simply replace it with some of Ken's best Plasma wallpapers
  • suggestion: removal

13) Path

  • type: darkish
  • PNG quality is really lackluster with this one (focus on the branches to spot this) + way too much contrast
  • suggestion: removal

Thematic categories to consider for new wallpapers and their post-removal state:

Abstract

  • state: well-covered
  • retain the default Plasma wallpaper
  • re-add the Elarun wallpaper
  • add some of the best Plasma 5 wallpapers -> T9817 and D17780 are already covering this

A e s t h e t i c

  • state: missing
  • think pink sunsets, neon lights, Miami Vice colors and cyberpunk -> it's a cool and popular visual genre
  • it doesn't have to be over the top, one old Plasma wallpaper already more or less did the job

Animals

  • state: missing (!)
  • I'm more of a cat person, but can we please get these puppers into KDE? :D

Beach

  • state: missing

Cityscape

  • state: missing after removing "Grey"

Forest

  • state: missing after removal of "Forest"

Macro

  • state: covered
  • retain the autumn leaves wallpaper (possibly Colorful cups and Grey?)

Mountains

  • state: missing

Sky

  • state: covered
  • retain the "Kite in the Sky" wallpaper

Universe

  • state: missing

Water

  • state: missing, but is covered if "Darkest Hour" is kept

Proposed sub-tasks\Dilemmas:

  1. Evaluate current wallpapers via a user survey? -> alternatively we can just use our internal judgement, which I think is legitimate
  2. Assign the task to someone -> @rooty and I would be thrilled to do this :)
  3. Make a final decision on which wallpapers to remove
  4. Find new wallpapers -> using e.g free wallpapers from Pexelz/Unsplash or making a call for artists? -> the former would probably mean better wallpapers, while the latter would make people in the community really happy -> I'm more in favor of using free, already available wallpapers because we'd want something top notch if we're shipping the package by default
  5. Submit a patch!
filipf created this task.Dec 24 2018, 8:04 PM
filipf triaged this task as Wishlist priority.
ngraham assigned this task to filipf.Dec 24 2018, 8:27 PM

It's often hard to judge the aesthetics of an image in isolation, especially when the proposal is to replace some with better ones. Please feel free to go find some! Then we can compare them to our current offerings and see what makes the cut and what we can remove.

That said, I'm fully in favor of removing By the Water. It looks downright ugly to me.

I really like Autumn 5.5, Fallen Leaf, and One Stands Out and would only be in favor of removing them if we get new ones that really knock our socks off, ya know!?

+1 on covering our bases with respect to the categories you proposed, and in particular adding animal, beach, mountains, and universe images.

Finally, +1 on adding Elarun. It's fantastic, like a better version of the similar macOS wallpapers from the 10.4-ish era.

Have at it! :)

rooty added a comment.EditedDec 24 2018, 9:26 PM

What do you guys think about these?

Cannon Beach (United States) by Justin Luebke (unsplash)

Half Dome (Yosemite, US) by Casey Horner (unsplash)

By Jean-Pierre Brungs, location unknown (unsplash)

It's often hard to judge the aesthetics of an image in isolation, especially when the proposal is to replace some with better ones. Please feel free to go find some! Then we can compare them to our current offerings and see what makes the cut and what we can remove.

Good point, we'll come up with some sort of a draft proposal for the categories in the following days. We also thought it might be good to include a Floral category, what do you think?

Here are a few wallpapers we've shortlisted at this time:

ngraham added a comment.EditedDec 26 2018, 5:27 PM

What do you guys think about these?

Those are nice! All three are very de-saturated and not very colorful though. We should be sure we have a good mix of those.

I love all of those! Really fantastic.

abetts added a subscriber: abetts.Dec 28 2018, 3:28 PM

I like the idea and if we select wallpapers we must provide quality wallpapers that fit every screen well.

rooty added a comment.EditedDec 28 2018, 4:26 PM

Those are nice! All three are very de-saturated and not very colorful though. We should be sure we have a good mix of those.

sure thing! i like the idea of having a mix of colorful + bland + nice icon label readability

I like the idea and if we select wallpapers we must provide quality wallpapers that fit every screen well.

that's why we've chosen unsplash.com and pexels.com, they're all free (speech and beer) and of very high resolution, so we can resize them any way we please

p.s. sorry i haven't been replying, my email's been on the blink lately haha

filipf added a comment.EditedDec 30 2018, 12:33 AM

Our first draft, any and all input is welcome:

Abstract/Other

Animals


Coast/Beach

Cityscape

Flowers

Meadow

Mountains

Space/Sky

Water

Proposed substitutions for Abstract/Other:

  • (1) pastels --> (1) elarun (bringing it back)

Proposed addition to Space/Sky: Dancing Northern Lights Photo by Lightspace: https://unsplash.com/photos/LtnPejWDSAY

I love those choices! Looks great to me.

rooty added a comment.EditedDec 30 2018, 1:04 AM

Thanks! Hey what do you think about including these Lance Asper Palm Coast wallpapers:

https://unsplash.com/photos/O79h8KzusIc


https://unsplash.com/photos/3P3NHLZGCp8

Maybe just the first one. They're really pretty imo, but we already have that secret beach wallpaper so we didn't include them in the original proposal (we thought it might be a little too much).

Yeah, I think Secret Beach looks nicer than both of those.

Yeah, I think Secret Beach looks nicer than both of those.

I like Secret Beach more as well, although the ones @rooty Iinked are a bit cleaner. I think Secret Beach is more memorable; one of our ideas in selecting the wallpapers is to not have them just look nice, but also have a quality to them that people will remember them for years later.

Some of my criticism for our choices:

The left side looks great, but the right side looks way too artificial.

Having both seems redundant?

If we zoom in on this one, we can see... it's fabricated, the rocks look slapped on!

Proposed addition to Space/Sky: Dancing Northern Lights Photo by Lightspace: https://unsplash.com/photos/LtnPejWDSAY

This one is nice, but also pretty grainy, making it look low quality.

Having both seems redundant?

Yeah, that was actually my first thought too. Perhaps we could have two, but ther could be different flowers/trees?

rooty added a comment.EditedDec 30 2018, 8:06 PM

Yeah I agree, it's basically a duplicate - I've (we've) been thinking: the lavender field doubles for Flowers, but also maybe something darker, redder, more purple/violet

Something along the lines of
https://www.pexels.com/photo/purple-chrysanthemum-flowers-in-close-up-photo-1416724/ - beautiful, but might be considered by some Europeans as slightly funerial

Or something brighter like
https://unsplash.com/photos/koy6FlCCy5s

Or something brighter like
https://unsplash.com/photos/koy6FlCCy5s

+1 for this one!

Or something brighter like
https://unsplash.com/photos/koy6FlCCy5s

+1 for this one!

perfect :D it's so... bright, i love it

rooty added a comment.EditedDec 31 2018, 11:56 AM

By the way, how do you feel about subbing the cherry blossom photo for an almond blossom photo:

replaced with


link: https://unsplash.com/photos/HQOA0LA91As

My rationale is that if a user should decide to use it as an sddm background image it would work a lot better without the blur than the cherry blossom photo where the branch in the middle messes with the action buttons:


vs

Pros: less blurry
Cons: right-heavy

rooty added a comment.Dec 31 2018, 1:16 PM

Cons: right-heavy

Yeah... Hey, I'd love to include both but I don't want the stack to be too big and it'd be a little redundant :D

Cons: right-heavy

Yeah... Hey, I'd love to include both but I don't want the stack to be too big and it'd be a little redundant :D

Current package (plasma-wallpapers) size is 41.6 MiB. IMO double that would be the maximum we could go, it's not good to make the package too big.

Also if we can just ship the biggest size and let Plasma do the cropping, that's a big advantage.

rooty added a comment.EditedJan 3 2019, 3:11 PM

So, to sum up, the current selection is as follows:

Animals

Seashores

Cityscapes

Flowers

Fields

Mountains

Skies

Water

  • Lake Bled on a Blue Night by Artem Sapegin, source:

https://unsplash.com/photos/uy1-fYSh4HY

Abstract/Legacy

  • Space Story by Joel Filipe (rotated), source:

https://unsplash.com/photos/QwoNAhbmLLo

Issues

  • Fallen Leaf and Elarun - not available in 4k or 5k
  • Tokyo Bay in the Rain - heavy on the green, substitutions welcome
  • Secret Beach in Seychelles - should probably be rotated by 180° for better icon label readability
  • Dancing Northern Lights - while quite beautiful, very grainy
  • Should only the highest resolution/quality wallpapers be included (61.3 MiB at present) or should multiple aspect ratio and/or resolution images be provided?

Looks fantastic to me, visually speaking!

Should only the highest resolution/quality wallpapers be included (61.3 MiB at present) or should multiple aspect ratio and/or resolution images be provided?

I think we need a Plasma or more seasoned VDG person to answer this question. I recall that there's some history with aspect ratios previously not being preserved correctly, but that's not the case now. It does seem like overkill to have one image per resolution, but I can see the logic behind one image per aspect ratio, if that works technically.

I think what happened before was that images would end up looking blurry if scaled and cropped. I know I had to crop my wallpapers manually. It's fine now, though.

I'm in favor of just letting Plasma do the cropping and scaling. We don't really have detailed abstract wallpapers where it's super important that a particular element is at an exact spot.

Basically our problem would however be wallpapers that have something important at their very edges. That means these 2:

Tested on a 5:4 monitor they don't scale ideally due to centering, but it's not that big of a deal. We could replace them if we found something better though.

As for 21:9 monitors, those are just a difficult breed... they'll have to make do with what's on the table because wallpapers usually just don't come in that ratio!

rooty added a comment.Jan 3 2019, 10:25 PM

I think they came out looking quite nice after being cropped. :D

Luwx added a subscriber: Luwx.Jan 4 2019, 12:56 AM

Choosing wallpapers is a very subjective task, so I think the more input is received the better :D

I suggest having clean and colorful wallpapers (or if not clean, at least be colorful, and vice versa).

Some examples:

Nature/Animals

Macros

Architecture

Abstract


Analyzing the proposed selection, I would replace Golden Mountain Grassland, as it is not particularly colorful or clean, and lacks quality. Gray Bridge and Trees also looks very artificial and visually cluttered to me. The first abstract image could also use some improvements too!

Those are quite lovely too, @Luwx!

I would agree that Gray Bridge and Trees is rather cluttered. It's pretty, but maybe not best as a wallpaper. I do really like Golden Mountain Grassland though--but I'll admit that maybe it's because I live in the region of the world where the photo was taken so I'm rather partial to that sort of landscape. :)

The nice thing here is that if we can ship only the high-res versions, that will cut down on the space required for everything so we have more breathing room to add more images.

trmdi added a subscriber: trmdi.Jan 5 2019, 6:17 AM

I suggest http://alpha.wallhaven.cc, there are lots of beautiful wallpapers on that website.
For example:

And this is very subjective, so we should select some pictures and create a poll to get users' options.

Finally we would choose the most loved ones.

ngraham renamed this task from Improve the default wallpaper selection to Improve the default selection of photographic wallpapers.Jan 5 2019, 6:32 AM
ngraham moved this task from Backlog/Planned to Work in Progress on the VDG board.
filipf added a comment.EditedJan 5 2019, 11:46 PM
In T10220#171808, @Luwx wrote:

I suggest having clean and colorful wallpapers (or if not clean, at least be colorful, and vice versa).

We'll aim to improve the cleanliness, remove wallpapers such as Grey Bridge and Trees. Thanks!

I suggest http://alpha.wallhaven.cc, there are lots of beautiful wallpapers on that website.

If I'm seeing it right we can't use the wallpapers from that site. It says: "All images remain property of their original owners." plus it might not even be authors themselves posting there.

And this is very subjective, so we should select some pictures and create a poll to get users' options.

I agree that this would be nice, but that it would be cumbersome to ask to have about 30 or more wallpapers ranked and then choose the best 15 e.g. We can always improve the package based on feedback.


A few more notes on implementation:

  • the size of e1638b613172 additions is really big, no one else has a wallpaper packages this big so it would be be best to just ship the 4K versions of these wallpapers
  • it's fine to just have silly resolutions such as "5148x2568.jpg", Plasma recognizes the wallpaper and will use it well
  • that being said, it would be much better if the default scaling method was "scaled and cropped" and not "scaled" (at least that's was the case for me in Manjaro)
  • screenshot.jpg is not actually necessary; Plasma will create its own preview of the wallpaper, but will not scale oddly dimensioned wallpapers well so we still need to produce these files

The diff is almost here!

rooty added a comment.Jan 5 2019, 11:52 PM

Yeah and the thumbnails that Plasma creates are actually scaled the way they are on the desktop.

What about cropping the images to a 5k or 4k resolution?

filipf added a comment.EditedJan 5 2019, 11:57 PM

What about cropping the images to a 5k or 4k resolution?

I tested with the Bled wallpaper, which is fairly oddly dimensioned, and it wasn't important. It still scaled great to 16:9. I think we can just leave the pictures at their max. size.

Besides, enforcing strict 5k or 4k resolutions would lead to unfortunate actions such as having to shrink Bled to 4k size since it's dimensions are 5426x2713 and 5k is 5120×2880.

rooty added a comment.EditedJan 5 2019, 11:58 PM

What about cropping the images to a 5k or 4k resolution?

I tested with the Bled wallpaper, which is fairly oddly dimensioned, and it wasn't important. It still scaled great to 16:9. I think we can just leave the pictures at their max. size.

Besides, enforcing strict 5k or 4k resolution would lead to unfortunate actions such as having to shrink Bled to 4k size since it's dimensions are 5426x2713 and 5k is 5120×2880.

And it works for a really wide screen too, not bad.

  • the size of e1638b613172 additions is really big, no one else has a wallpaper packages this big so it would be be best to just ship the 4K versions of these wallpapers

Please remove all the different sizes for the current wallpapers in a patch. :)

  • that being said, it would be much better if the default scaling method was "scaled and cropped" and not "scaled" (at least that's was the case for me in Manjaro)

...And this goes in another patch. Big +1 on it.

trmdi removed a subscriber: trmdi.Jan 6 2019, 4:05 AM

Given that the soonest the diff can land is for Plasma 5.17, we still have time to think some more about this.

I've been seeing people compliment some existing wallpapers, and I also noticed people using some of them. That makes me wonder if it would be good to make a poll where the existing wallpapers would be rated. The poll could also have an additional comment field where users could say what kind of wallpapers they would like to see added. Thoughts?

Here's the bug tracking the required wallpaper cache feature: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=408223