... 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 3)
on Jan 24, 2004

on Jan 24, 2004
on Jan 25, 2004
Maybe I can help clear a couple things up for a few people. Firstly, the resolution for the XP boot screen must be 640x480, 16 color. The most common problems are caused by some people misunderstanding the "16 color" for "16 bit color", or assuming the requirements to be the same as previous versions of Windows, which made use of 256 color images. Make sure it is only 4 bit, or 16 colors. The first attempt I made at setting a bootskin was using the "Computer City" which I found for download. When I applied it and restarted, I got the same symptom several of you did - instead of the desired picture, it used the standard XP image, although the progress bar was gone, and the color palette was clearly wrong. I opened the background picture for the bootskin, "ccback.bmp", and found that it was saved with 256 colors, not the required 16. After converting it to 16 color with Paint Shop Pro (which I recommend to anyone), the bootskin worked just fine.

The largest reason that tinkering with boot skins in XP can be dangerous, is because XP no longer keeps the boot screens as separate image files, like previous versions of Windows. (Windows 95/98 kept the bitmap images saved as "logo.sys, logow.sys, and logos.sys") Windows XP has the startup pictures actually embedded into the "NTOSKRNL.EXE" kernel executable file as application resources. To change the boot screens manually, you'd actually have to replace this file with a hacked version that included the images you want. I guess that's what amazes me - that this proggie actually works when done right. If it's doing it safely, exactly how is it changing something that's inherantly built right into the OS?

Just my few cents worth
on Jan 27, 2004
I found that when I use SkinStudio to prepare an image for a bootskin it won't save the files normally but when I select the same file i'm editing it will overwrite it in its proper format so what I do (step by step) is create an image, export it twice as a 24bit bitmap and open one of them up in SkinStudio for preparation, after I've set the proper settings I hit the save button and in the save dialog I overwrite the same file I'm editing. This process seems to work properly without any problems.

I still wonder why it only works like that though...
on Jan 27, 2004
Great program... I have had no problems with BootSkin at all. What I can't understand is that if others are having problems with Satrdock's software, they either need to learn to use their PC correctly, or stop using software that they think is faulty. That seems to be the only logical explanation I can think of. Be looking for bootskin's from 'Impaled' soon. I have a few ideas and I will be uploading them to WinCustomizeupon completion.
on Jan 29, 2004
Looks really good, I did create a boot screen but it didn't work. I got a message to say I had to either have Safe Mode, Safe Mode Network, Normal Mode and others. I've just reliased it was 800x600 on 16 colours not 640x480 which I've just done
on Jan 29, 2004
I've tried out on of the BootSkin default ones and when I open bootskin and apply a skin and close bootskin. I retry opening Bootskin and its gone back to default. An why do the bootsking one up there look different to mine?
on Jan 29, 2004
You are looking for something different than this program offer..... Try to take a look for Stardocks Logon-Studio.....

on Jan 31, 2004
When I put the progress bar in my bootskin the picture dropes although in preview everything is great. I think this is because of the way i convert any pic to 640x480x16. I'm using "FotoCanvas 2.0" and photoshop 7.0 and try to convert the rgb files to indexed format with all options but the same problem continues. Please someone help me what can I do?
on Jan 31, 2004
What does the "Type=0" or "Type=16" line do in BOOTSKIN.INI?

Monk - BootSkin works by loading a special driver which serves to display the BMP files. This driver is designed to be the *first* thing that loads when you are booting (specifically, it uses a "system reserved" driver order group name - go to http://www.sysinternals.com and download the LoadOrder utility).
on Jan 31, 2004
If I'm using bootskin, suddenly I can't use Style XP anymore.. I can use different colors in my WIndows but I can't use anothe rinlogscreen.. can I fix this in some way? Thanks.. !
on Jan 31, 2004
I'm new to making boot screens, I've just made my first one, looks ok in boot skin but when I re-boot my machine all the colours are off. It is in 16 colours (4 Bit) black and white............ I am sure it has something to do with the colour pallet but am unsure how to correct it. Can some one give me some pointers please!!
on Feb 01, 2004
I've got rid of BootSkin and am using BootXP (2.5). It worked first time and has a 640x480 16bit converter and you can move the progress bar in the one program!

on Feb 01, 2004
it doesnt show the default progress bar of win 2k to show the (horrible) win xp progress bar , how i change it to win 2k ? i cant make a bootscreen i followed the instruction above ,the program makes the preview well but when i restart i only got a one color screen (random)
on Feb 01, 2004
Hello all. I am new to bootskin and I seem to be having problems when I download bootskins. When you have to select a program for the bootskin to go to, I can't find the right program.... Will someone please help. Thanks.