... or my version of it!
Published on December 1, 2003 By _Martin_ In OS Customization




The Art of Making BootSkins

BootSkins are certainly the skinning fashion of the moment. These are replacements for the screen that is displayed when Windows is loading.

Previously, replacing these screens had been a somewhat risky affair involving hacking your Windows application to pieces, but now BootSkin (www.bootskin.com) allows you to replace the screen without risking damage to your Windows installation under Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

The software allows you to apply one of the default skins or one downloaded from WinCustomize (http://www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp?library=32), but how do you create one of your own?

Well, it’s actually really easy. All that are required are 2 images and one configuration file. The first thing to do is to design how you want your skin to look when it’s completed.

This is my image as I want it to look. It’s just a tweak of the standard look. What you need to bear in mind currently is that BootSkin only works with 16 color images. There are plans to change this in the future to allow more colors but we must work with what’s available at the moment so keep your image simple.

The two images are the background and the progress bar. The background incorporates everything you see above apart from the blue progress bar in the top right. The box surrounding the progress bar is an optional part of the background image.

A lot of image programs claim to produce 4-bit (16 color) bitmaps but often the format is not quite right without knowing your image editing software well. What is fortunate here is that another Stardock program can help.

SkinStudio (www.stardock.com/products/SkinStudio) is mainly a tool for creating WindowBlinds and other skins but it has a useful tool built in that can help. If you select Tools … Bootskin … Prepare Image from the menu you will launch a little utility specifically for this purpose.

If you “browse” for your image you can load it into the utility.

You should then check the “Dither” option and experiment with the different Resampling and Dithering types to find the closest 16 color representation of your original image. You can then press “Save” and save your background image.

You can then move on to prepare the progress bar. The best way to do this is to start with an existing image to tweak. Basically however, in the BootSkin, you will eventually specify how much space the progress bar will take up and then this progress bar you create will be animated as Windows loads to fill this space.

Here we are using a simple image, which also uses the same 16 color palette as the background.

OK, so on to creating the actual BootSkin.

Under the directory where you installed BootSkin there is a Skins directory. Within this directory there will be a series of folders for each BootSkin installed. To add your skin, create a subdirectory with the name of your skin. I’m creating a directory called StardockEdition. Within that folder I’m going to place my two image files and a copy of an existing bootskin.ini file from one of the other folders.

We’re almost there now. We’ve done the hard work in creating the images. Now, we just need to change the .ini file to tell BootSkin how to use these images. Lets take a look at that file now.





Description = "XXXXXXXXXXXX"


ProgressBarX = XXX

ProgressBarY = XXX

ProgressBarWidth = XXX


Note that I’ve replaced context with a series of XXXXXs. These are the areas you need to change.


Here, simply enter the name of the BootSkin you have created within quotation marks.

e.g. Name = "Windows Stardock Edition"


Here, enter your own name so you can get the credit owed for your wonderful skin within quotation marks.

e.g. Author = "_Martin_"


Enter some information about the skin you have created, again within quotation marks.

e.g. Description = "A simple twist on the standard login to give credit to Stardock’s wonderful software"

Progress Bar

Here, you need to enter the name of the bitmap file you are using for your progress bar.

e.g. ProgressBar=StardockEditionProgress.bmp


You need to work our where you are placing the progress bar on the screen. This represents the absolute left edge of the bar. You can use your source image to work out the location.

e.g. ProgressBarX = 508


This is the vertical coordinate of the top left of the progress bar on the screen.

e.g. ProgressBarY = 12


This is how wide you want the progress bar to be. As Windows loads, the Progress bar image that you specified will be moved across this area. Once it has moved across the width of the progress bar you have specified here the progress bar will start again from the left edge of the progress bar.

e.g. ProgressBarWidth = 118


Here, you need to enter the name of the bitmap file you are using for your background.

e.g. Screen=StardockEditionBack.bmp

OK, so here’s the final version of the bootskin.ini file:



Name = "Windows Stardock Edition"

Author = "_Martin_"

Description = "A simple twist on the standard login to give credit to Stardock’s wonderful software"


ProgressBarX = 508

ProgressBarY = 12

ProgressBarWidth = 118


Now that you have edited the file, save it.

If you load BootSkin now, you can see you skin in the list.

Click the Apply button and your skin will be shown the next time that Windows restarts.

The final thing you can do is to share your BootSkin with others. To do this, select your skin, and select File … Export Selected Skin to File. Then, select a name for your file and a location to save it to. You will then have a .bootskin file that you can share with other BootSkin users. Why not upload it to WinCustomize for others to comment on?

Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 01, 2003
thanks _martin_ i was wondering how to do it. i just got a funny picture and i want to make it a boot screen. *no-one please take my idea* my pic is the one of Mr. Burns (the simpsons) standing just barely covering his body and i am going to make it a boot screen just like whats-his-name, burns' secretary. lol alright thanks and expect the boot screen to be on wincustomize.com like around next week.
on Dec 01, 2003
um, oh yeah, how do i post news here??????? im totally lost.
on Dec 01, 2003
You rock martin!!
on Dec 02, 2003
cool software ,but it prevents my dell inspiron from booting.instead I take the bootskin I like(jpg from prewiev)convert it to bmp , then in xteq setup I choose this bmp as a wallpaper before login,Then the picture stays longer during boot than it would have done if I had managed to get bootskin to work, So make bootskin change pre login picture instead of boot picture
on Dec 02, 2003
Good looking and well detailed tutorial, very good work!

Though, there is no way to save anything with the method you have describe using the SkinStudio, strange!

on Dec 03, 2003
I wonder if placing the progress bar works on windows 2000? If anyone knows, let me know please. I'm having problems getting the bar to show but it could be due to the fact its placed in the wrong coordinates.
on Dec 04, 2003
Very detailed and informative tutorial, good job! keep up the good work!
on Dec 05, 2003
Interesting problem here...
I took a picture... chopped and resized it down to 640x480 in photoshop CS, then converted it to a 16 color image (Image-Mode-Indexed Color...).
(note, everything I read says 4 bit file but I was only able to save in 8 bit???)
Exported the palette to a microsoft palette format and opened the progress bar from another file and applied that palette to it...
Put everything together in it's own directory under "skins" in the bootskin directory with the others...
Created my bootskin.ini file
My new skin appears correctly in the bootskin program... I selected it and it said that it would be active on next boot
Closed all my programs and rebooted...
It doesn't display my skin... instead it displays the default windows boot screen but using the palette from my picture and there's no progress bar at all (yes I set proper x and y values in the ini file)

I dont get it...

Gonna try one of the included skins to see if they work instead...

Dell Lattitude C840
on Dec 05, 2003
I figured it out... kinda...
used: http://server1.belchfire.net/Inno_Resize/ to convert my file (lost more color data and started from 16 color image, not full color... will try full color later) to a "working" format
but that didn't quite work... still same problem as before...
opened the "new" bitmap in photoshop and it FINALLY allowed me to save in 4 bit!!!!
changed my .ini file to point at the new bitmap (re-ran the bootskin app just to be sure)

My only problem with the belchfire site is that it automatically adds a progressbar in the middle of your picture... I wanted mine in the bottom right corner...
on Dec 06, 2003
Nice guide... But I was wondering, I did everything the guide said (except for converting my image in skinstudio, cos I don't have a "bootskin" menu, instead I converted it in photoshop) and my bootskin works... But the image is weird. The image is shifted about 60 or 70 pixels to the left and the stuff that would be cut off is placed on the right side of the screen... Any ideas to what's causing this?
on Dec 06, 2003
a very basic overview that could probably be gleaned from just viewing the example bootskins. Ps. my advice, dont use photoshop, it is useless at converting down to the correct image format. Try Jasc paintshop pro, works like a breeze. you really dont need to purchase Skinstudio in order to make these - ignore BLATENT advert.
on Dec 09, 2003
on Dec 15, 2003
I'm having the same problem as arnoct where the image gets shifted. I tried applying some of the pre-made skins with BootSkin and they seem to do fine. Also, though, my skin comes up with the right colors at first but after a second it turns into a crazy looking monochromatic image for some reason. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
on Dec 18, 2003
When I use skin studio professional and try to save my image. I add a name and click save and it will not save the image no matter even if I use a image that I got from wincustomize. It is like the save function don't work. Any one with any Ideas would sure be helpful. Are there only certain colors that can be used? I have tried different programs and I am not getting any where.......
on Dec 19, 2003
thank you
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