Creating a Plasma Style Quickstart
One of Plasma's features is the ability to theme desktop elements using Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs). This means there is no need for theme authors to know C++ or any other programming language to create a great looking theme. They need only use common graphics tools like Krita, Inkscape, GIMP, etc. Depending on your prowess with such tools, a great looking Plasma Style can be created in under an hour.
A video tutorial is available to learn how to edit Plasma Styles.
Creating a Plasma Style in 7 Easy Steps
Step 1: Using an existing theme
Copy and rename an existing Plasma Style folder. The new folder name should
be the name of the theme. Themes provided by your distribution are stored in
while user-installed themes go in
You can also find Plasma Styles on the KDE Store. Edit the
in the theme folder to match your theme name.
See Theme Metadata if you need help.
ImportantPrior to KDE Frameworks 6, themes used a
metadata.desktop file instead of
# Create theme directory in home if it doesn't exist
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/plasma/desktoptheme
# Copy default theme to home directory so we can modify it
cp -r /usr/share/plasma/desktoptheme/default ~/.local/share/plasma/desktoptheme/
# Rename theme
mv ./default ./mytheme
# Edit the relevant fields in the metadata.json
# with your theme information and credits.
# Remove any translation names or descriptions
# (entries like Name[fr] or Description[zh_CN]).
default/ theme is the base
Breeze theme with all the default SVGs.
breeze-dark/ only have a
colors file and a pair of metadata files and inherit everything else from the
Step 2: Open a file
Open the SVG file associated with the Plasma element you would like to theme (panel background, clock, etc.) in an SVG editor (e.g. Inkscape).
Step 3: Edit each element
Each SVG file may have several elements (objects with element ID =
ClockFace, etc.). Modify existing elements OR delete
and create replacement elements. Elements can be any SVG primitive or object group.
See SVG Elements and Inkscape to understand how to edit Plasma SVG elements.
HintYou can embed raster images as SVG elements if you creatively prefer raster editors like Krita, GIMP, etc. Remember to embed each image instead of linking (Inkscape: Effects -> Images -> Embed All Images).
Step 4: Use an Inkscape extension
Step 5: Review element IDs
Make sure that the element ID for each new element is correctly set.
HintIn Inkscape you can check the element ID for each element by right-clicking on the element and choosing Object Properties.
Step 6: Edit hint elements
Add or remove any element containing a hint ID you desire. It doesn't matter how the element looks, just that elements with IDs matching the hint elements either exist or don't exist. See Background SVG Format for a description of available hint elements.
Step 7: Save the SVG file.
Repeat steps 3 - 6 for any other Plasma element for which you would like to create a new theme.
Testing the Theme
If you have not already done so, copy your new theme folder to
Choose the theme in System Settings -> Appearance -> Plasma Style or edit your
~/.config/plasmarcto point to the new theme. This may require restarting Plasma.
Carefully check the appearance of all new theme elements.
If you created separate themes that do not require compositing/desktop effects (SVGs in the
opaque/folder), remember to test your theme with compositing turned off (this can be toggled with the keyboard shortcut
opaque/ folder is only relevant for themes on the Plasma X11 session, as the Wayland session does not allow to turn off compositing. See Opaque Folder for details.
When you update the theme, you need to battle with Plasma's caching. To make sure you are running the latest version of your theme after updating its files, clear the cache:
rm -r ~/.cache/plasma*
Then restart the Plasma Shell. The easiest way to do so is by opening KRunner with
Alt + Space and running:
You can provide a Plasma color scheme that will allow text, selected backgrounds and other items to blend well with your theme by supplying a
colorsfile in your theme folder. See the
colorsfile in the
defaulttheme for an example.
colorsfile is omitted, Plasma will use the current Plasma system colors.
ImportantTheme SVGs will not be colorized unless they contain the
Hints and Tips
Even a pixel or two out of place can make a difference over hours of use. It may not be obvious at first glance but the user may intuitively pick up that something is "just not right" and give up using your theme.
In Inkscape, turn off stroke scaling when elements are resized. Inkscape may default to scaling the stroke of an element when changing its size. This may show up in the rendered Plasma Style as thin, barely-there lines that you can't seem to get rid of.
If you prefer raster editors like Krita and GIMP, create your theme in these programs first, then import them into Inkscape (drag and drop of the files works fine). If you're working on a background with multiple elements, like
widgets/background.svg, crop the raster image into the different elements (top, bottom, right, etc.) and save as separate files before importing into Inkscape.
Don't forget to embed imported raster images. By default Inkscape will import these as linked images that will not show up in Plasma (to embed the images, go to Effects -> Images -> Embed All Images).
Remember that the border elements of backgrounds (
left) are tiled if the
hint-stretch-borderselement is not present in the SVG.
Remember that the center element of backgrounds are stretched if the
hint-tile-centerelement is not present in the SVG.
To control how much colorization will be applied by Plasma when using the
hint-apply-color-schemeelement, make sure the color (HSV) Value/Intensity is closer to
255for less colorization, and closer to
127for more colorization. So, for example, to keep shadows from being colorized, use a color (HSV) Value/Intensity of
When testing the theme, if it looks like portions of a multi-element SVG are missing (missing borders, etc.), check the SVG again to make sure the element IDs are correct.
Do not use more advanced SVG features since they will not be rendered properly. If you want to add blur or something similar, consider pre-rendering to PNG, and then importing the PNG into the final SVG file.
Perform this quick sanity check for background SVGs to help troubleshoot annoying lines and gaps between elements:
toprightelements should have the same height
bottomrightelements should have the same width
bottomrightelements should have the same height
bottomleftelements should have the same width