Little I knew that I will be involved in it, when I was posting a while ago on Neowin and WinMatrix about the cool Warcraft skins available on Wincustomize. Blizzard is offering a World of Warcraft suite now for download on their US and European pages pages and upon their request we needed to swiftly modify the Apocalypse's great World_of_Warcraft skin to meet Blizzard's request to match the game GUI more closely. I was assigned to the task so I went swiftly to the local store with the perfect excuse to get myself a new toy!
- Honey, but I need it for work...
- Sure you do!
- but really, darling... look...
... so I started hacking the game files to get some artwork out of it. As it appears there's a lot of people looting the game resources than one could expect... a bi-product of it you can find in my previous article here.
But to the point....
Out of the game files I got some cool graphics, now I'm not really good with with design but equipped with some original artwork I can be pretty dangerous. So I got some artwork out of the game and started cutting and pasting this auction window:
as you can notice the frame drops a nice shadow and I wanted to reflect that in the skin. To make the long story short I ended up with this design:
you may have noticed that I have made the right panel translucent as well, hey! if WindowBlinds can do it, why not?
Now it came the time to cut the images into their respective sections. After the process common to all XP enabled styles, the only difference so far is that I used TGAs (PNGs actually and then SkinStudio did the conversion to TGA for me automatically) in the images instead of the usual bitmaps. Let's try it now...
OK, not quite what we hoped for, right? This is because WindowBlinds didn't realize we have used translucent images and simply painted them as if they were binary transparent. so now for every element of the panel we need to enable translucency. This is done by clicking on each of the elements in the preview and selecting the "Translucency" check box in the lower right corner of the SkinStudio area like this:
OK so it's still not completely right. This is still the transparency we could have get from the beginning since WindowBlinds started supporting Windows XP. If you check the following screen-shot you will notice that the shadow in the bottom and left of the panel is solid gray instead of the nice shadow in my Photoshop screen-shot.
There is a nice shadow on the right, but it's the regular Windows shadow. In World of Warcraft the light is dropped from the top/right corner co the shadow drops to the bottom.left and that's the effect we're trying to have. Also the right panel is not translucent, so that's unacceptable. And Actually this is the point when WindowBlinds magic really begins. Let's tell WindowBlinds that we REALLY, REALLY want the start panel to be translucent. You can do this by setting the "Start Panel Effects" Attribute to "normal per pixel alpha" for every element of the start panel:
Section: "Start Panel"->"User Pane"-> Attribute: "Start panel effects"
Section: "Start Panel"->"Programs List"-> Attribute: "Start panel effects"
Section: "Start Panel"->"More Programs Panel"->"Background"-> Attribute: "Start panel effects"
Section: "Start Panel"->"Places List"-> Attribute: "Start panel effects"
Section: "Start Panel"->"Bottom Bar"-> Attribute: "Start panel effects"
So we're set now right?
WRONG! Due to how WindowBlinds actually processes the Start Panel translucency windows added a shadow on the right of the panel, check out the image once again, there is a shadow on the right of the start panel, some 10 pixels right of it. Once you'll notice it's it's quite annoying! Let's get rid of it...that's a pretty simple task. All you need to do is set the following attribute to "Enabled":
And here's the new Start Panel in it's full glory:
Now, could you make some more, please?