Skins by your Average Joe
JosephsART Designs and Portfolio

SkinStudio 6 Sucks

Apr 28, 2008 1:38 PM by Discussion: WinCustomize Talk
I've decided that today's skinning community is dying.
It can be argued that our veteran talent has been either been bought out by Stardock or left the game. Or that perhaps our new talent is a little too new. Regardless of these views, I think statistically today's quality of themes have degraded and I believe I may have an understanding as to why; Windows Vista.

Since Windows Vista has been released, we've seen quite a shockwave throughout the skins and themes community. This is both good, and bad. It is good, because developers can now foresee a new age of design for skins and themes, both aesthetically and that Windows Vista provides a new shell for designers. However, Windows Vista can cause some confusion for visual style developers, and perhaps it is because Stardock thought it would be innovative to create an entirely new development tool for their WindowBlinds software.

I believe it was an excellent effort for Stardock to get right on the Windows Vista wagon by having their WindowBlinds and SkinStudio prepared for Windows Vista. However, I don't think it was such a good idea to redesign the SkinStudio tool from the ground up. In fact, I think it was a ridiculous idea.

This point can be argued to the bone, and no doubt Stardock developers would have plenty to say as to why SkinStudio 6 is greater than classic. But in retrospect, creating a new tool for the new application sends the veteran developers back to square one. Every time I open SkinStudio 6, I am overwhelmed with the changes, and instead of placing effort into my design, I'm more concerned about whether clicking this new and strange button in SkinStudio 6 will explode my megahertz.

At this stage if I can still be bothered, I create my skins in SkinStudio Classic to the furthest extent. And then I add any Vista features with SkinStudio 6, somehow. It's impractical and a lot of work. I tend to believe that someone in the Stardock development team thought it'd be super-cool to redesign the SkinStudio interface to meet the "Stardock 2008" standard. Without much consideration for the idea, it has single handedly blown the whole development community out of the water.

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Sometimes, We Won't Want DWM

Oct 5, 2007 7:19 AM by Discussion: Skinning
Hello Everyone,

This is mainly a suggestion directed at the developers of SkinStudio.

Recently, I've created a UIS1 Skin in SkinStudio Classic, And I've added the additional Vista components using SkinStudio 6. Which is all good, however, I've noticed that SkinStudio and WindowBlinds together use the Aero DWM Interface when applying skins.

This is fascinating, because the nature of the UIS1 Skin is to provide compatibility and performance. I don't see the importance, or use of either if the user is forced to use the Desktop Window Manager with Aero. Both are highly memory consuming, and probably aren't worth the efforts of UIS1.

I think a switch should be implemented, primarily in the skin's default specifications (alongside title, author, copyright, category etc.), which specifies whether the theme will use the Aero DWM, or the Classic DWM.

Who's With Me?

(PS: Aero DWM being; Blurring, 3D Task Flip, Taskbar Previews and Per-Pixelness, which uses an average, 40MB of Memory. Classic DWM being similar to Windows XP, providing nothing but the basics. Using an average of 4MB of Memory.)
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My Third Year At WinCustomize! It's Been A Blast!

Sep 30, 2007 7:33 AM by Discussion: Community

Josephs Third Year at WinCustomize
As of the 30th of September 2007

Hello Everyone,
Today is my 3rd Birthday at WinCustomize, and it's been an amazing journey!
Since signing up back in 2004, My Skinning and Digital Design skills have grown so much.

Thanks to some of my inspirational artists, like danillo0c, Tiggz & Mike Bryant, my interest in Interface Design has never faded.

Starting my year with my very cruddy BootSkin, BlockXP, the feedback I had received was and still is so warming. And you will only ever get such feedback at WinCustomize. Until this day, I still find it difficult understanding how WinCustomize has maintained it's caring and kind community in this day and age of cyber expression and demise.

The only reason I have still kept skinning is because of communication from community members, starting from my first BootSkin. Until this day, BlockXP has fetched 2000 downloads, and as my first submission, 500 Downloads seemed like a whopping number. That alone, was enough to make me think that one day, I too could be like one of my skinning heroes.

Today, I stand with just over 750,000 Downloads.
I'm a ObjectDesktop Subscriber, and have submitted over 150 Skins.
I turned 18 on December 12, 2006, and one day hope to be working as a professional Interface Designer or a Web Designer.

Some may be curious as to what i've been up to, since my last suite, Slate-X back in January. Well, I've been slowly developing my own website, JosephsART Designs and Portfolio. All my skins are hosted there, as well as my forum. I've recently created a shopping cart which I hope to be able to use to create Premium Skins. You can sign up to my website it too!

Besides my Website, I've been working on 2 Suites;
Astyanax and aesthetisys. You can check out some previews of them, over at JosephsART!
Each suite will be 100% Vista Compatible. In Fact, They've been in design since the beta releases of WindowBlinds 5.5 for Vista. I currently run 2 OS's, One being Vista, and the Other XP. So I can run full tests on both suites, so everyone can use them!

Well, that's about it from me, Woot for 3 Years!
Thanks to everyone who's supported my work, without you, I wouldn't be here!

Josephs WinCustomize; Page, Gallery & Stats
JosephsART Designs and Portfolio -
Contact Josephs
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Why Can't I Save as .WMZ?

Aug 9, 2007 2:06 AM by Discussion: SkinStudio
Hello Everyone,

I'm needing some help with saving my WMP Skin in SkinStudio 5.
To start creating a Windows Media Player skin in SkinStudio, the only format I could select from the 'New File' menu was "Universal FreeForm Skin (UFF) for Windows Media Player", I judge this is normal. I then progress to create my skin.

However, it was only until recently where I decided to test the skin on Windows Media Player that I found there was no option to export/generate the skin file to an acceptable Windows Media Player format. I've found that my only option, .UFF files, definitly do not work with WMP, and I've made skins, like Flux and MediaPad for Windows Media Player before, however this time around, I'm unlucky.

The SkinStudio Toolbar is quite crude. The "Zip for Distribution" function suggests I can only save this file as .zip, .usz, .wba & .gui, yet I see no .wmz format which is the only function that anyone really needs to zip a skin for distribution. And the "Apply Current skin to System" button, which I am quite used to when making WindowBlinds skins, seems to do nothing.

The only ray of light i've found is in the "File > Save As.." menu, where I have 2 options of saving as "Universal Skin Format - Freeform" or "Windows Media Player". Obviously, I want to save the skin as "Windows Media Player" with hopes that SkinStudio will generate the Skinzip as a .wmz (or atleast functional with Windows Media Player), however, when ever I attempt to "Save As.." this format I get a wonderful error "Unable to Create Directory".

At this stage, it is impossible for me to actually create a functional Windows Media Player skin.
Does anyone have any suggestions to what I am doing wrong? Thanks for your help!

(Note: I am using SkinStudio 5.0.1 Build 1112 on Windows Vista Premium with Windows Media Player 11)
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Is it just me, or am I downloading a Bugged Version

Dec 6, 2006 9:31 PM by Discussion: SkinStudio
Hello WinCustomizers!

The community has treated me well for quite some time now, and it's now the first time that i've really needed to reach out for help. Because my only tool for WindowBlinds creation has finally given up on me. Just as of the last few days, I've noticed very erratic SkinStudio behaviour. Freezing occasionally, Various sections reporting bugs, and as i'm about to explain, something even worse.

During my recent skin development, I had plans to release a WindowBlinds skin for the WinCustomizers this Christmas, but, it's apparent this can not be done. During the last week, there has been a common error in the 'Per-Pixel Frames' -> 'Buttons' section. I had managed to pinpoint it down to the 'System Icon' being the problem. Basically, the problem is that even though when compiling the WindowBlinds skin everything is fine, when I select the Per-Pixel System Icon section Skinstudio Freezes and Closes. Now, this was happening earlier this week. Fortunatly however, I did not need to use this section of SkinStudio to finish my skin. As I had done this part prior to it starting to do it (I often return to previous sections to check whether they are up to my standard).

However, even though this was a minor annoyance, further throughout the week more problems began developing. Including the failure to draw or even use the 'Per-Pixel Window Frame' preview. Simply selecting this item from the Views list causes an error message to appear, often saying "List Index Out of Bounds (3)". I had a feeling this was related to the previous issue of the Per-Pixel System icon. This now creates an issue for creating new skins. Should I require the use of the the Preview Section to create my Skins, I can now only recieve error messages and scrambled previews.

And to top this all off, Today I found that SkinStudio had coded my skin wrong in the worst fashion. As developer maybe aware, when you chose to "Import" an image to a section, SkinStudio often renames the Imported file for use with it's code. Well, it's apparent that SkinStudio also creates Temporary files for use during SkinStudio sessions. SkinStudio does this by duplicating the existing file, and adding "~!" infront of the filename. So MyFileName in temporary form is represented as ~!MyFileName. The issue that I had however, was the majority of my skin was created using the temporary extension and the temporary filenames where written into the code. This, became a major issue when SkinStudio decided to dump all the temporary files at the end of the creation of the skin. That's right folks. From start to finish, I was backing up a false WindowBlinds theme full of temporary files, and when I finish the skin, it deletes itself. How good.

I've put this behind me.
Very upset as I am, SkinStudio has turned itself into rubble and I refuse to put up with all these annoyances. What I am asking is if anyone knows how to clean uninstall SkinStudio for a reinstall it would be greatly appreciated if they could explain it. I've tried uninstalling SkinStudio, then discovering there aren't any Registry Entries, nor any Program Files. Thinking this was all good, I reinstall SkinStudio only to discover that my old settings are in tact, along with all these bugs. I'm just hoping that a clean install will fix these problems. Because as it is now, it's sort of useless.

Thanks in Advance,
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We've all got Issues

Sep 7, 2005 1:25 PM by Discussion: SkinStudio Help
Hello everyone,
I've stumbled apon this problem before and I think I was able to bypass it, but does anyone have trouble when they use Translucent .tga's for components in the Startpanel. Making an object, for example, the Places List, Translucent sometimes doesn't refresh the background behind it when switching windows, backgrounds or anything that would lay behind the Translucent image. Leaving an ugly, but mostly unnoticable underlay which shouldn't be there.

I myself think that having a mixture of various 'Start Panel Effects' applied on different components cause this error (eg: Blur on Places List, Glass on Programs List etc). Is there a solution? Might it be the actuall .tga I am using (Screwed up the Alpha Channel?), or is it how WindowBlinds applys the background underlay.

I don't know, and I which to fix this before I submit my new WindowBlinds theme.


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A Fresh suite by Josephs

Aug 17, 2005 9:21 AM by Discussion: OS Customization
Hello Everyone,
My first Article here on WinCustomize, I was wondering what people thought about my three suites so far. I first started serious skinning when I made my Darkest Foundation set, which then moved to the District RS suite and my latest Suite , Fresh inspired by rpeterclarks Winamp skin 'Simple'.

Earlier this year, I started my first WindowBlinds skin entitled; Darkest Foundation. Which I put alot of effort into, figuring out how to use SkinStudio and more programs. Sometimes making specific parts of the skin (Such as Bulletpoints or Tab Buttons) can make you druel, day-dream, or in other-means; Trip-Out. So starting other parts of the suite, such as Logons or Bootskin re-stimulate the mind so you can continue the WindowBlinds skin. After about 1 week, the WindowBlinds suite was made and A few parts of the theme.

Weeks after releasing the suite, I kinda got to thinking about making more suites, but the pain you sometimes have to go through was way to much to think of. So starting with a colour scheme on a different kind of skin got me started. I made a red and white bootskin which I entitled 'District RS' which then led to the creation of the entire suite. The WindowBlinds this time around, I started with a Top-Down approach. Starting with the Startbar and Window Frames first give you a better feel for the skin-in-progress when you apply it and test it, making me anxious to finish it. District RS was a overall fun input and a nice suite.

This Month, Rpeterclark released a Winamp skin entitled 'Simple'. Using graphics and Winamps inbuilt VGA generator, allows code to create images through code. So no images are compiled with this skin, just code. I enjoy the appearance of the skin. A Glossy.. Luna, you could say. Animated Close/Max/Min buttons and a great colour scheme. That, was the inspiration.

So I jumped on DeviantART and send a E-mail to rpeterclark making him aware that I was going to make a Visual Style and suite with a very similar style, and colour-scheme. Days later, No responce.

Oh well... Screw that, got to it. Started skinning the WindowBlinds skin straight away. Some new experimentation with SkinStudio allowed me to make Animated Titlebar buttons, Animated System Buttons and System Animations made in Flash. Something a little different this time around, making, what I believe was a more simple way of running the style. Almost Fresh. Once again, a Animated Start button and a All Programs BMP, meaning Extra sub-styles for those Non-English users. Toolbar Icons were a breeze, With my first set of Toolbar Icons, I couldn't figure out how to add a Transparent Alpha-Channel to my TGA, lowering the overall quality of the Buttons. Whereas having experience now making a more Fresh design. Next, were the rest of the suite.

I always take pride in those Logon Screens with Centre panels and Resizable backgrounds. The centrepanel is such a obvious piece of art. Any image you want in uber-high quality. So making a little panel for the logon was great fun. And I used the PSD from my wallpaper to make a high quality BMP. Meaning, if you use the logon, and have the wallpaper applied, after you log on the Wallpaper on your desktop is the same as the Logon background making it look all cool like (Duh!).

The CursorXP theme made with love, I did on a school break. I don't think its anything special, but goes with the Suite. Looks nice made in Photoshop all on the same day. It only took around an hour. I mean, they're just .PNG's. No compiling or anything. So easy! And the same story with the Bootskin. Used 'Green' as my Colourscheme and it worked nicely when converted.

So, after a long few weeks work. I present; my most Current suite; Fresh (Cuz it is)
I tried uploading the wallpaper to WinCustomize.. but the 'Guidelines' say that Wallpapers featuring any WindowXP environment, logo's or orientation will not be accepted unless they are exceptionally overwhelming... So DeviantART accepted it in 3 seconds.

All parts of the theme are available on, and But for these links, all WinCustomize and Wallpaper DeviantART. I also wouldn't mind some PORTING done. If you have skills in Trillian, Sysmetrix, FireFox, IconPackager or any DX3 widgets PLEASE EMAIL ME at

But for now, Here is the Fresh suite: + WindowBlinds + Wallpaper + LogonStudio + BootSkin + CursorXP + RainLendar + WinAmp (By ~rpeterclark)

Leave your comments, suggestions and requests all down here and maybe we can expand the Fresh suite. And please! If anyone has any information on some programs that can port WindowBlinds themes to MSStyle (Windows Visual Styles) please let me know. Lots of people have asked for permission to port it, but I dun wanna let 'em, I want to do it! So please, pitch in if you know any info!


(Uber L337)

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