I don’t really know how to make the themes from scratch so it’s just using other themes as a base, haha.
Have you thought about adding 3D box art and an open box for metadata to the space below the snapshot? I actually wouldn’t mind doing that for the theme I’m using, but not sure how to do it.
Will look forward to seeing your theme in the future. As far as making them from scratch, it is fairly simple to be honest, there isn’t very much that we are able to adjust, so that helps a lot with being able to come up with a theme, but using a case theme to start is good.
To start from scratch just gather what you can have on your theme (an image, the gameslist, the meta data, help area), and choose what you want to have. Create an idea of a layout based on your screen size, typically this would probably be 1920 x 1080.
Once you get the main layout done, in Photoshop or Gimp, create it and use lots of Guides for accuracy when setting up the XML file. The XML will use a percentage of your screen resolution for it’s size and position, and goes X Y (X being width, Y being height). 0.5 0.5 for instance would be dead center of the screen (assuming the screen dimensions are set as 1 1 in the XML)
So from here using the guides you’ve created in Photoshop (or whatever other design software), start measuring out the areas you’ve laid out for whatever you plan on putting in the theme. Using my theme as an example, I have screen shot and a gameslist.
My NES screen shot is 768w x 672h(pixels, always using pixels) and on my layout it’s top left corner is at 72 from the left and 72 from the top.
So using my resolution of 1920 x 1200 I get this:
Screenshot: 768 / 1920 = 0.4 | 672 / 1200 = 0.56
Placement: 72 / 1920 = 0.0375 | 72 / 1200 = 0.06
So in my XML file for my box art setting I have
<pos>0.0375 0.06</pos> <— Placement
<size>0.4 0.56</size> <— Screenshot size
And from the the rest should be straight forward. Hopefully that helps with anything that doesn’t make sense as far as building from scratch. Looking at other themes though is probably the best way to learn and understand what is happening when certain values get changed.
Now as far as 3D box art is concerned, in a previous version of my theme I used box art, but the biggest pain about this is that there is no archive of every single box ever scanned in the same high quality, with the same dimensions, so when dealing with the type of layouts I want this doesn’t work for me. That is mainly why I went with Title Screens, they are always (pretty much) the same size, and the quality is what I make it since I take the screen shot. Other things I tried with the dead space was adding # of player icons, main character sprite and publisher/developer logo. This however was taking me forever to get about 100 games done, so I decided against it. I may go back to player controls since I could do that fairly quickly, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do for now.
So for making the art, if you mean adding it to a theme as well as a screen shot the only way you can do it is by creating an image the size you want and place both the box art and start screen in the image in the proper place and save as a transparent PNG. Easy enough to do, but would take a lot of time.
If your question was about making the 3D box art, that can be a simple process if you use the custom cover files from thecoverproject. They have a template with that large spine on it, so what you would need to do is download all of the box art you want, create an action in Photoshop where you adjust the front cover and the spine to give it that box shape and then assuming all of the covers are exactly the same, run a batch script using that action to save the covers as the 3D model.
Most of the stuff takes a bit of prep work, but creating Photoshop actions will save hours of design time.
Hopefully my reply is helpful, any questions I’ll be glad to answer.
Also, thanks for the Sega screens, I’ll take a look at them for sure and see what I plan on doing, if anything for Sega.