BlackBerry Theme Studio v5.0 – Build your own BlackBerry Theme!

Personalization

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If you’ve been a BlackBerry® smartphone user for awhile, you’ve likely come across BlackBerry themes. BlackBerry themes change the way your BlackBerry smartphone home screen looks: from the background image to the icon and cursor style. Some BlackBerry themes also feature animations and a completely unique home screen experience.

Did you know that you can make your own BlackBerry theme? What’s better, the newly released BlackBerry® Theme Studio 5.0 makes it pretty easy to customize your BlackBerry smartphone with a unique theme. All you need is a bit of creativity and some skills with graphics software like Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe Illustrator®, Adobe After Effects® or BlackBerry® Composer.

Today I’m going to walk you through the main interface of BlackBerry Theme Studio 5.0 and in a future post we’ll go step-by-step through the building process. Let’s get started!

Where to get BlackBerry Theme Studio? 

You can download BlackBerry Theme Studio for free from www.blackberry.com/themestudio. It’s an application for Windows – just download it onto your computer and install.

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You’ll notice that BlackBerry Theme Studio actually contains two products in the suite: Theme Builder, and Composer.

BlackBerry Theme Builder

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BlackBerry Theme Builder is the “theme design” tool of the suite. BlackBerry Theme Builder lets you change the images that get used for things like icons, background graphics and cursors. You can also adjust the fonts, change the position of many objects on the screen, decide which applications appear and change the color and properties of things like dialog boxes.

The main interface of BlackBerry Theme Builder is divided into a few different parts:

  • The Preview Window
  • The Catalog Panel
  • The Inspector Panel>
  • The Alignment Panel

The Preview Window – seeing how your theme will look

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The Preview Window shows off your theme along with how it will look on the BlackBerry smartphone you’ve decided to make a theme for. The “preview” is – for the most part, just that … a preview.

When using BlackBerry Theme Builder, you almost always change the properties of your theme in the Inspector (more on this in a second) and don’t manipulate anything on the Preview window itself unless you’ve selected a function in The Inspector which asks you to then change things in the preview window directly.

An example in this would be when you select “REPOSITION BANNER ITEMS” items in the Inspector. Selecting this option will make it possible for you to select any item in the banner shown in the preview and move them around the screen to your liking.

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The Inspector Window – where the work gets done

The Inspector is where you do the bulk of your work in BlackBerry Theme Studio. The Inspector segments the elements of your Theme into organized parts. You’ll notice several buttons as you work your way down the inspector and pressing each one takes you into a different area that you can customize.

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Banners: Clicking on this button will let you change the properties of the banners that appear at the top of your home screen or in some of your applications. This includes the icons that appear (such as your battery life status), the position of icons and the fonts of the text.

Home Screen: Clicking on this button will let you change the elements that appear on your home screen (the primary screen of your BlackBerry smartphone), including the background, the applications and the icons.

Application List Screen: Clicking on this button will let you change the properties of your application screen, including the icons of the applications, the order of the applications and the background image.

Controls: Here, you can have fun with the controls that appear on the BlackBerry smartphone.  Manipulate the appearance of the dialog boxes, the buttons that can be selected, menus, title bars and more.

Phone Screen: Clicking on this particular button lets you change around the images that appear when a call comes in or is dialed out and you can now add your own ringtone.

Lock Screen: Clicking on this button gives you the option to edit the backgrounds, icons and fonts that appear on the screen when your BlackBerry smartphone is locked.

Global Items: Global items are a fancy way of referring to things that appear “globally” throughout the BlackBerry smartphone. Examples include things such as the progress bar that appears when an application is downloading, the key identifier that appears when a button is held down and the hourglass that appears when an application is installing or launching.

The Catalog – managing your theme images

BlackBerry Theme Studio ships with a bunch of background images and sample graphics that you can use when creating your BlackBerry theme.

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The Alignment Window – lining things up

The alignment window helps you position objects correctly in the preview and works similarly to alignment tools in other graphics software.

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How do I design those graphics? – Enter BlackBerry Composer (or just about any other design tool you prefer)

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The second tool is BlackBerry Composer, a design and animation product that is great for helping you craft images, whether they’re static or animated. BlackBerry Composer has a full set of tools for designing built into it and it’s great for adding life to your images without having to buy other software.

BlackBerry Theme Studio is also friendly with other design tools. If you want to design your graphics in something like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, that’s fine too. If you want to add animation, you’ll need to learn a bit more about BlackBerry Composer, but we’ll cover that another time.

Next, we’ll cover the specific steps required to build a BlackBerry theme. Until then make sure to download BlackBerry Theme Studio 5.0.

About Mark R.

Product Manager, BlackBerry Application Platform Mark has been at Research In Motion for 2 years, spending his time working on various BlackBerry Application Platform products including the Plazmic Content Developer’s Kit (CDK), the new BlackBerry Theme Studio and BlackBerry App World. Prior to joining RIM, Mark spent 8 years in consumer software industry working on graphics, digital photography and productivity software. When not pondering ways to help people to personalize their BlackBerry smartphones, Mark can be found hiking with his dog or watching off-beat cult movies from the last few decades.

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