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This page summarizes the essentials:

In case you are confused over the difference between the Gnome Shell theme and the GTK 3.x theme:

  • GTK 3.x theme – the main theme that governs the panel/window border, color, background etc

  • Gnome shell theme – the theme that governs the display in the Activity mode (when you click on the Activity button at the top left corner).

Installing themes:

Once you have downloaded all the themes (Gnome Shell theme, GTK 3 theme, icon theme, and probably custom fonts), extract them to their respective location.

  • Extract Gnome shell theme and GTK 3 theme to ~/.themes
  • Extract icon theme to ~/.icons
  • Extract custom font to ~/.fonts

Note: ~/ is a shorthand for your home folder. So ~/.themes is referring to the /home/username/.themes folder.

Switching theme: Gnome Tweak Tool.