The easiest way to create a new visual style in SkinStudio is to use the Skin Wizard. The wizard walks you through the steps of creating your visual style.
In SkinStudio, select File, New, Skin from Template. The New Skin dialog box opens (see Figure 9.3).
Figure 9.3. The New Skin dialog box.
On the General tab, double-click the New Skin Wizard to open it. Click Next to move past the introductory wizard screen.
On the next screen, you can select from two styles for your new skin: Gradient Style or Standard Style (see Figure 9.4). The Gradient Style uses a color gradient on interface elements.
Figure 9.4. Select a style for the new skin.
Select a style, and then click Next to continue. The next wizard screen enables you to add three optional buttons to your window title bars: Help (a help button), On Top (places the window on top of other windows), and Rollup (this rolls up the window). These buttons are selected by default. Clear the check boxes for the special buttons you do not want. Then click Next to continue.
On the next wizard screen, you have the option to add a drive bar to your visual style (see Figure 9.5). The drive bar provides easy access to your computer's drives.
Figure 9.5. Add a drive bar to the skin.
Click the check box to include the drive bar (or not); then click Next. On the next wizard screen you are provided the option of including an application bar with the visual style. The application bar includes a list of your most frequently used applications and provides easy access to these applications. To include the application bar, click the Add Application Bar check box. Then click Next.
The next screen provides control over the font style used on Windows title bars. You can select from normal text, text with drop shadow, and outlined text. Select your choice using the appropriate option button, and then click Next.
The next screen details the fact that you have to supply a name for your personalization style (this screen is only a disclaimer on how you should create the name). Use alphanumeric characters (do not use characters such as @, #, and so on) and provide a descriptive name. The name is used to name the visual style file and a new directory that is created. The visual style is automatically listed in WindowBlinds so you can easily apply it. Click Next, and this screen is where you fill in the personality name, the filename, and other information such as the author's name (your name) and your website address and email.
After filling in the information on this screen (the personality name and filename are required), click Next. You are taken to the final wizard screen. Click Finish and you are returned to SkinStudio. You can now use the panels to see how the various elements look in your new visual style.
The wizard primarily reworks the elements used for windows (click Windows in the Preview panel to take a look). At this point, you could make more changes to other visual style elements to increase the customization provided by the new skin. We discuss these customization possibilities in the next section.
After you create a new skin (visual style), you should test the various controls (buttons, track bars, and so on) it contains. Select Tools, WindowBlinds, and Test the Skin. If WindowBlinds is not currently running, a box opens, asking whether you want it to be started; click Yes.
The SkinStudio Button Visibility Test dialog box opens (see Figure 9.6). This dialog box provides a series of tabs where you can view (and test) trackbars, buttons, and editing controls used by the visual style.
Figure 9.6. Test the various controls used by the visual style.
This test dialog box is provided to check the size, visibility, and functionality of visual style control elements. If everything looks okay, you can close the dialog box. The next step is to apply the style.
Select Tools, WindowBlinds, Apply the Skin. The skin is applied to Windows, and you will immediately notice that changes are made to the SkinStudio window (based on the new visual style). You can open other windows and the Start menu to view other changes that have been made to the interface. Figure 9.7 shows the changes made to the taskbar and Task panel and shows the changes that have been made to a window such as Windows Explorer.
Figure 9.7. Apply the skin to Windows.
The wizard-created visual style provides some basic modifications to the Windows interface. As already mentioned, you can revise this visual style as you see fit. The next section discusses other strategies for modifying a visual style and creating more advanced skins.
Before you get too far into the skin creation process with SkinStudio, you might want to enter your default author's parameters so you don't have to reenter them with each skin. Select the Tools menu, and then select Preferences. In the Program Preferences dialog box, enter your name, website URL, and other author information. Then click OK.