Thomas Leisner

About Beauty and Bright Ideas
October 3rd, 2012

TouchOSC Design Mod

TouchOSC comes with a selection of useful controller layouts to choose from. They are pre-installed and can be used immediately. After modding the two big controllers for Ableton Live and Apple Logic, I also changed the colours for the various other basic controller layouts.

In case you’re wondering what TouchOSC might be, have a look at my introduction to TouchOSC. In case you already own TouchOSC you may simply download the attached collection of layouts I have modified, open the included files one by one in your TouchOSC Editor application and upload them to your device from there in order to use them.

The “Beatmachine” layout.

 The “Keys” layout. I have added some octaves.

 The “Mix 2” layout.

 The “Mix 16” layout.

 The “Simple” layout.

Download Download Neutrum Design TouchOSC Mod for iPod

These colours are just my personal preferences, but in case you like them too, here they are. I only have the iPod versions here, as I only have an iPod. Please leave a comment in case you are interested in the iPad versions, they are easily and quickly done.


September 20th, 2012


TouchOSC is an app for mobile touchscreen devices that offers onscreen controller elements to interact with your computer via OSC and MIDI. You may build your own controller layouts or choose from a list of existing layouts.

TouchOSC is one of my favourite Apps. It’s cheap and efficient, it’s very well programmed and designed, and it offers a functionality many of us have dreamed of for a long time: To have a touch controller for our music software, and even to be able to very easily build personallized controllers ourselves. And to add one on top: It all works remotely and stably.

Above: TouchOSC showing my Neutrum Design Mod for LogicTouch

The software package comes in two parts. First of all the app for your mobile device that shows the controller elements on screen and establishes a wireless connection between your mobile device and your computer without the need to install any other sofware on your machine. This works flawlessly out of the box with some included layouts of control surfaces. Secondly an editor application running on your machine that allows you to edit layouts or to create your own from scratch.

The app for your mobile divice is available for iOS as well as for Android, and the editor application runs on MacOS as well as on Windows or Linux. Both pieces of software run very stably and I couldn’t discover any bugs so far. They are programmed to contain a stable basic functionality without many extras, yet offering a wide range of possibilities including all you usually need without getting confusing.

As the name suggests, TouchOSC uses the modern OSC protocol to communicate with your audio or video software. It can communicate directly with software having the OSC protocol implemented. But as the older MIDI protocol is more widely used it also may send MIDI messages over OSC, which makes your TouchOSC control surfaces appear as a normal MIDI device on your computer.

In case you are interested have a look at the  TouchOSC website for more details, pictures, explanations and a clear and very straight forward documentation. As I like this little piece of software so much, I have made a bunch of design modifications to the standard layouts, as well as some basics layouts for my projects, which you might try to get started.


July 12th, 2012

LogicTouch Design Mod

TouchOSC comes with two grown-up controller layouts, one for Ableton Live and the other for Apple Logic. These control surfaces interact with the application via MIDI remote scripts which allow for bidirectional communication and automapping of parameters to controller elements. The one for Logic is an officially supported control surface for Apple Logic and is called LogicTouch.

LogicTouch offers extensive control over many parameters of your Logic project, including functions for transport, automation, channel strip parameters, channel equalizer and effect parameters. The iPad version even allows for control over software instruments parameters on a separate page and for controlling sets of eight channels at once.

Given these facts it’s no surprise that it’s big fun and a great help to work with LogicTouch, and just as my Neutrum Design Mod for Logic makes Apple Logic look more elegant and clean, this Neutrum Design Mod for LogicTouch makes LogicTouch look like it was made for it.

The Neutrum Design Mod for Logic and how it relates to the modified design of LogicTouch.

Creating this design modification was relatively easy – and just so is installing it – because TouchOSC comes with an excellent editor for creating your personal controller layouts on your computer. TouchOSC Editor allows for changing the colours of interface elements and also for uploading your creations to your mobile device.

This means that after downloading Neutrum Design Mod for LogicTouch to your computer, you simply need to open the layout for your device in TouchOSC Editor and send it to your device in order to use it. You may overwrite the existing files and in case you want to return to the original layout you may get it back from the same place where you got TouchOSC Editor.

Download Download Neutrum Design LogicTouch Mod

July 2nd, 2012

LiveControl Design Mod

LiveControl is a MIDI Remote script that allows you to control Ableton Live directly from your iPad or iPod using TouchOSC. It supports full automapping of parameters and bidirectional communication between Live and your touch device.

LiveControl is a sophisticated little piece of software, it’s fantastic and big fun to use. Best of all it’s free, and the wonderful TouchOSC is incredibly cheap. So if you use Ableton Live and have a touchscreen device, using TouchOSC together with LiveControl gives you a powerful wireless remote controller system for nearly nothing!

As you may know if you have heard about my Neutrum Design series of design modifications, I am a bit sensitive about colours. This is why I changed some colours in the layout of LiveControl to fit my preferred colour scheme for Ableton Live, a skin called “Klinikal Ninja”.

I found this skin on the web, and unfortunately I can’t give credit to the one who made it, because I could not find any link. But as this skin was free to download I guess he or she will be all right with sharing it. Look at the picture gallery below to get an idea of it. It’s great especially in dark rooms, such as a club or concert stage.

For LiveControl I changed some colours to make it fit the black and red colour scheme of the Klinikal Ninja skin. Also the clip launcher section was a little too nervous for my taste, so I stopped the “stop” buttons from blinking whenever a clip in this track is playing. I also made it possible to show grey clips, which is very important for Neutrum Design.

Above: The pages of the LiveControl Design Mod for iPod

Above: The pages of the LiveControl Design Mod for iPad

To install this design modification you need to upload the modified LiveControl layout to your device and to replace some script files inside the Ableton Live application folder with the modified ones provided by the download below. A readme file will give you all the information you need. If you also want to use the Klinikal Ninja skin, the installing instructions will show you the way to the skins folder, too.

Download Download Neutrum Design LiveControl Mod

The download contains all the files you need for the design modification on iPad or iPod, as well as detailed instructions on how to install them on Mac or PC. However I could only try and test it on a Mac with my iPod. I hope it will serve you on PC and iPad as well.


November 25th, 2011

My Tiddly Wiki

I was curious about what a „Wiki“ might be, and I was surprised to learn and find much more than I had expected. Say hello to TiddlyWiki, your free personal advanced notepad!

A Wiki in general is a system to store and retrieve information, especially when working together in groups. Therefore Wikis are web based and they do not only show their contents but also allow you to edit them. If you think about Wikipedia for a moment, the special thing about it is the fact that you may not only read an article, but also may write one yourself, which makes this collection of information so big and still growing.

Tiddly Wiki is a small Wiki designed for personal use. It runs in your browser and stores information in one single file on your computer. Now the cool thing about Wikis is that they store information in a non-linear way, Which means that you don‘t have one page after another, but you write an entry and may hide it and forget about, but can easily retrieve it by searching for keywords or tags you have given it or looking in a timeline, where every entry is stored in chronological order.

There are many ways to customise Tiddly Wiki, as it is developed by a large community adding content and plugins to expand it‘s functionality. Just as a Wiki‘s content may be read and edited by everyone, the Wiki itself may be used and extended by everyone. This is perfect for me! As you might have noticed I like to edit the software I use to fit my personal expectations and needs, so of course I made some little tweaks, and of course I offer my personal edition for you to download.

So here we go, just download „My Tiddly Wiki“ and try it! A short introduction to basic functions is included. It‘s more or less original version of Tiddly Wiki with just a few tweaks in colour and one plugin which shows your entries in tabs (which is what I was looking for since a friend asked me for just that functionality which he missed in any other software he knew). If you want to learn more about Tiddly Wiki you might also want to look at Wikipedia or visit the original Tiddly Wiki Website.

October 14th, 2011

Mainstage Design Mod

This design modification gives Mainstage the same „desaturated“ look that comes with the Logic design mod. Buttons, icons, meters and much more have been reworked to get to a neutral appearance of the whole interface, so you can concentrate on the colours you‘re actually working on in your layout.

Mainstage is the live performance application that comes with Apple‘s Logic Studio software bundle. It allows you to use all the powerful software instruments and effects you have within Logic live on stage or in a studio or rehearsal situation, providing an interface that is optimised for exactly that purpose.

Download Download Neutrum Design Mainstage Mod

The innovative concept of recreating your hardware midi setup as an individually designable graphical representation on screen before adding your sounds to those elements gives you extreme flexibility in creating exactly the interface you need for your performance. The other great innovation is that you can have all the songs for a performance in one big „concert“ file, allowing you to switch between songs on the fly.

As with Logic the general design as well as the concept is great, but some individual parts and components drop out of that overall scheme and have a disturbing influence, at least in my humble opinion. I reworked those elements, as far as that was possible by the applications design concept, using some tricks, so to my eyes they now integrate well into the whole interface design and give it that „Neutrum Design“ look, providing optical understatement and clarity and focusing on what‘s important.


September 29th, 2011

iPhoto Design Mod

In Apple’s photo software iPhoto it‘s impossible to hide neither the sidebar to the left nor the toolbar at the bottom of the window. The new neutral icons help focusing on the colours in your pictures, without getting irritated by the design of the software itself.

Download and try this design mod if you like the screenshots in the web gallery. A detailed explanation on how to install the mod is included with each download.

I should mention that I have made this one, as well as the mod for iWeb in my previous post, for the versions of these applications that I use. These are not the very latest updates, I use iWeb 2 and iPhoto 7, but I am quite shure you may use the mods on earlier or later versions just as well. As always, don’t forget to make a saftety copy of your application before installing the mod, and you can simply try it.

Download Download Neutrum Design iPhoto Mod

In some cases folder names in the install path may have changed with an update of the software (like with the Logic Design Mod, where I provided separate downloads for Logic 8 and 9), but normally file names for the pictures stay the same. So if you can‘t find the right folder immediately, just do a search for some file names.


September 28th, 2011

iWeb Design Mod

So here we go with another Neutrum Design Mod. For reasons of continuity the Mods for Mainstage should have followed that for Logic, but as I am working with iWeb and iPhoto all the time to write and design this blog, I quickly desaturated them, too, and I do enjoy it every day since!

As with the other Neutrum Design Mods this one adds desaturated Colours to the application interface of iWeb. In graphic applications a neutral design is especially important, because when you work with colours in your document you don‘t want to get confused with colours of the interface which don‘t match.

It took some years until applications like Photoshop or Illustrator changed their palettes and frames to a neutral colour scheme, and all that time I wondered how professional designers could work with an application like that. Well they had no choice, like I had none so far, but for a designer those colourful surfaces are just what a permanent noise or tone in an audio application would be for a composer or sound designer.

Download Download Neutrum Design iWeb Mod

You can see how the new interface looks like by clicking on the slideshow thumbnail above and you may download and try the mod yourself by clicking the download link below. From time to time I find some detail I missed, so I will add some updates to the download eventually without further notice, so you will always get the most recent version there. Tell me how it works and feels for you. I am very happy with it every time I look at it.

September 21st, 2011

Logic Design Mod

With this very entry I‘m happy to present the first part of a new series called „Neutrum Design“. It is my approach to desaturate the interface of the applications I‘m working with, in order to set back what belongs to the background and thus to focus on the work itself.

I‘ve always been very sensitive to the design of the applications I use, for they are more or less my „home“ for the time I‘m working with them – a surrounding, I kind of „live“ in for quite a lot of my time, and which certainly has an influence on my work.

Logic 9 Neutrum Design Mod

This first entry of the Neutrum Design Series deals with Logic Pro, Apple‘s flagship audio application. Logic had become a new face with the introduction of version 7 some years ago, presenting the new single-window concept and a very elegant neutral design – except for the colours of many knobs, faders, buttons and icons, which I guess haven‘t been reworked by the designers who created the new design.

Those interface elements remained the old way, which was, and still is until today, – well, let‘s say very „joyful“. Most colours are very bright and saturated in order to catch your eye for one important function. But without a good general concept, for the next function a colour will be needed that is even more catchy, which leads to an application interface that‘s not clear, but confusing and even hurting to the eye in some cases.

I find that in most cases there even is no need for colour, highlighting in greyscale just would do. So, that‘s exactly what I went for: Desaturating the interface, so it becomes more or less grey, just like the new design framework introduced in version 7. Since I saw Logic 7 for the first time I wanted to do this, and now I‘m very happy to present to you my result: Neutrum Design Mod for Logic!

Above: Neutrum Design Mod applied to Logic 9

The download link below gives you all you need to install the design mod for Logic 8 or 9. A read me file will show you how to install the data into your Logic application package. It is the same content for both versions, only the folders are name differently for Logic 8 and 9. The locations are clearly indicated in the installation folder hierarchy.

Above: Neutrum Design Mod applied to Logic 8

I have also added a Logic song file with some tweaks to avoid some disturbing colours that couldn‘t be changed for technical reasons. You may adjust this to your liking and use it as a template to keep your interface clean. It also contains the notation colours you may have noticed on the pictures to the right. The custom colours for the Logic colour picker can be installed using the colour palette file.

Download Download Neutrum Design Logic Mod

So go ahead and give it a try, and feel free to tell me your opinion about it. This is just the first part of a series of design mods. I already prepared mods for Mainstage and Soundtrack from the Logic Studio package. But there is also a very large and comprehensive set of icons for all of these applications to come, which is nearly finished just yet. So watch out for this!