Author Topic: Re creating new skins  (Read 6284 times)

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alba1314

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Re creating new skins
« on: August 02, 2005, 04:11:41 AM »
Am I not right in saying that a short while ago there was a tool available from avast for creating new skins?

I'm sure I downloaded it and now cannot find it as I have heaps of back-up CD's lying around.

I don't have PhotoShop installed and don't particularly want it - bad experience in the past where PhotoShop hijacked all my images left nasty taste in my mouth when it comes to installing this program again...

Are there any other alternative progs that will let me create new skins?  Needs to be one that a newbie to creating skins, such as myself, can find relatively easy to work with! 

I currently have  Jasc PSP9 and ArcSoft PhotoImpression 3 installed.


Offline szc

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2005, 04:55:25 AM »
There is no particular program for creating graphic stuff for the skins. It's up to you... Would you believe me if I say that I made many of those skin parts using just standard Windows Paint... nothing else...

It's up to you, and your imagination and drawing/designing abilities. Nothing else... For compiling those GFX parts into one skin unit you will need SkinBuilder, but it;s not freeware...

Cheers !

P.S. It's getting late in here, going to sleep now... logging off...
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alba1314

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2005, 05:01:31 AM »
I'm not the only one up early/late then?!

 ;)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2005, 05:04:28 AM by alba1314 »

alba1314

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2005, 05:02:50 AM »
Thanks sZc!

What should you save the skin file as, extensionwise?

And where can I get SkinBuilder from?

Enjoy your sleep - I'm off to bed myself!

zzzzzzzzzzzzz -Ow!  The Mrs just hit me!!!   :'(  :(

Offline szc

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2005, 02:24:59 PM »
Hello again... fresh morning, brand new day... clear thinking  :)

Ok, this is just short version... first of all, this tutorial is not covering quite everything, and believe me it wouldn't be enough even if they made it in 20 pages, not just those 3, but anyway, here it is...

http://download23.avast.com//files/eng/skintutoren.pdf

Don't be fooled 'cause they are mentioning Photoshop. It's just because it's most famous drawing/photo editing utility, nothing else... Personally, I never ever used it for any single part of my skins. Not even one graphic piece was made with Photoshop when it comes to my skins. Martin Novak (Alwil's graphic designer) likes to use it, especially 'cause you can work with TGA with Alpha channel. Other than that, I don't see any single reason to use Photoshop instead some other utilities that are "close to your hand" right now...

For my work, I use Macromedia Fireworks... program is not quite good as Photoshop, but if you play long enough with it, you can achieve exactly the same things as with PS... although some different ways. Most of my skins usually contains around 50-100 little graphic parts. Some of them contains even more pieces. Of course, they need to be made separatelly and logical, manually... you need to dedicate yourself and 100% of your time to make it exactly as you planned. Here is a small example what can be done with Fireworks... people usually think I use Photoshop, but they are wrong... I have it, but I never used it for these things... I use it just when I have to make some TGAs with transparent Alpha channel... Fireworks can't do that  :-\

OK, Agua button made with Fireworks:


This is usually what I do...

- I always start with an idea in my head... first and most important...
- Then sometimes (not always) I put my idea on the paper... just some child-looking drawings, sketches... watever, just to give you some better picture about how it will look at the end. Here is the one I made (my version of BluePrint  ;D ) prior starting with avast! Brushed skin:



- Then I think of animations and do I really need them inside that particular skin project... because, some skins really don't need extra bells and whistles. You have to think about the whole skin concept. For example, if people requested to have pro looking skin that will mimic standard Windows 95/98 shell, there is no logic to integrate some fancy animations inside that skin... if they wanted it simple, you have to give them simple thing.
- Next thing is firing up my Fireworks, and maniacally start drawing  ;D . Base (background) piece first and then all other little parts (buttons, button states etc.)
- Of course, there is animation part which will require certain amount of time, but once you are finished, you'll be very happy to see how everything looks at the end.
- Sound effects are also in this picture, but not necessary... many skins don't have integrated sounds, but for example, my skin "LCARS avast!" is full of authentic and original LCARS module sounds.
- When you are finished with drawing all those tens or sometimes even hundreds little pieces, you are ready to open ActiveSkin's SkinBuilder and compile everything into one compact unit - avast! skin. Do not mix SkinBuilder with those simple skinning applications... this thing is something completely different. It's not one of those WinAMP styled "load-some-graphic-and-save-the-skin" applications. It's much more than that. I would define it as some half-coding-half-compiling application because there is really much more than just load my graphic and skin is finished. I'm not trying to scare you, I'm just telling you what can you expect when you decide to dive into it...

When you are done with your skin (or at least you think you're done, because if you start to play with this, you'll see that even when your skin is finished, you'll find something that could have been done differently or better if you want), you need to compile/save your skin with .asws extension. That's avast!'s standard skin extension. Also, as you can read in that brief PDF tutorial, you will need to compress that skin file into .aswcs file. Original .asws file can be rather large file, so it's not suitable for sending it in that format to Alwil staff... you need smaller file... for example, my skin avast! Brushed.asws is 2,266.139 kb, and when compressed as avast! Brushed.aswcs, it's 554,969 kb... see the difference ? Alienator.asws is 1,667.097 kb, and Alienator.aswcs is 125,242 kb and so on, and so on...

Utility for packing those skins is called ashSkPck.exe and it's already located in C:\Program Files\Alwil Software\Avast4\. You have to load your finished skin (.asws) into packing utility and compress it. Final product will be compressed skin with .aswcs extension. And that's pretty much everything...

Through the process of drawing I can not lead you since there is so many things that needs to be covered, but I'm sure you already poses some certain amount of knowledge, so there is really no need to go any deeper into that right now...

Regarding the location for downloading of ActiveSkin's SkinBuilder... To be true, I have no clue. I've got it from Alwil staff few months/years ago, but I'm not sure where can you get a copy now... this is the link where you can read something about it... and worst of all, there is a price listed ($99)  :-\ Link: http://www.sharewareriver.com/product.php?id=2649

I hope this helped a bit...

Cheers !
Sasha
« Last Edit: August 02, 2005, 02:29:11 PM by sZc »
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darth.mikey

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2005, 02:56:15 PM »
What an interesting read  :)

Offline RejZoR

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Re: Re creating new skins
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2005, 03:54:04 PM »
First of all it's good to create an non interactive prototype of the skin. This way you'll get the layout. Then you just have to cut objects out and redesign them to be interactive and with different states/animations. This was the easiest way at least for me. My MacLover OS X was basically completely designed in MS Paint and few shaded things in Jasc PSP 9.
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