Hacking Tutorial: How to create Acekard/AKAIO skins

CannonFoddr

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OK I promised someone I'll do a tutorial in another thread - so here it is.
You can see what skins I've done (so far) over at this thread

Firstly: you'll need one of the skin editors from the Acekard websiteSecondly: You'll need a graphic package with functions like 'Crop'/'Clone'/'Resize' so that you can resize any new graphics that you've chosen. 'GIMP' is a highly recommend software and it's FREE

Tutorial
  • Depending on whether you're using Acekard official firmware or AKAIO unofficial firmware, copy any of the folders inside the '/__aio/ui/' or'/_ak2/ui' folder onto your PC Desktop
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  • Rename the folder on your desktop - this will be your 'working' folder & will prevent any accidental over-writing
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In this example I've copied acekard 'black' skin and renamed it 'working'
  • Open the 'working' folder & click on one of the graphics you wish to change
You may see in the status bar at the bottom the size of the graphic. If not Right-click on the graphic, select 'Properties' > 'Summary' tab
Make a note of the 'Width' and 'Height' as you'll need this when you create your new graphic

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  • Obtain a graphic you like to use in your skin from google images (or wherever) & load that into your art package. Alternatively - try & make your own
  • Using the tools in your art package (Crop/Resize/Clone etc) alter your 'new' graphic so that it's the same size as the graphic you are replacing
  • Now save your new graphic into your 'working' folder using the EXACT SAME NAME and File type as the one you you're replacing - over-writing the existing graphic
  • Repeat this for all the graphics you want to change
Now start up the program you downloaded from the Acekard website (Remember - I'm using 'AK Edit' for this)
  • When AK Edit has started - click on the [Open] icon ( [1] in the picture) & browse/select your 'working' folder - then click [OK]
    4313759637_b062eeecab_o.jpg


    4314495606_3792993f84_o.jpg

    ^ If you get an error message - click [YES] to fix
    It's been brought to my attention that AKEdit will ask to convert to 16-bit even if all images are already 16-bit

    When you are asked to convert to 16 bit, each time you click [Yes] the program will apply its conversion filter to all the images, even those that are 16 bit & as a result the images will become grainier each time

    A tip is that IF your graphics program can save in 16-bit, do so & to click [No] when told by AKEdit
  • Once the graphics have been loaded, use the tabs along the top ( [2] in picture above ) & alter Positions/Change text colours etc until you're happy with it
  • Click on the 'Save' icon ( [3] in picture above ) to save any & all modifications
  • Now copy your 'working' folder BACK onto your MicroSD card (rename it if you like), place back into your Acekard/DS & try it out using [Start] > [System Properties]
A couple of things to note:
> When selecting your new skin you may find the name been truncated - so instead of seeing 'Blue XMB Skin' you may just see 'BLUEXM~1'
> You may find that some text may not appear exactly where you wanted it when it's used on the DS - this is a problem with AK Edit 'preview', so you'll need to do a little fine tuning within AK Edit to get it in place


Some Useful (!) Tips:
  • When making 'Split-Screen' background:
    There may be a time you'd like to create a larger background (one that covers both screens) - here's a tip
    > In your art package, make the overall wallpaper a size of 256 wide by 476 height - & NOT 256 x 384, as you would expect (use 'rescale'/'crop' functions should do the trick)
    > Using your art package selection tool - copy the area starting at x=0, y=0 down to x=256, y=192 (it may be shown in your art package status bar) & paste/save this as 'upper_screen.bmp'
    > Copy the area starting from x=0,y=284 down to x=256,y=476 - Once again paste/save this but save it as 'lower_screen.bmp'

    The reason for this is if you do the 'split-in'half' method - your screen background will look very 'odd' on the DS because of the space made by the hinge
    4319744856_eb1f5eace9_o.jpg

    Notice on the 'cut in half' that Batman's head seems seperated from his shoulder, while on the right his head seems more naturally placed
  • In AK Edit: - If you want an Animated screenshot of your skin to show off your skills (See the Spoiler below for an example)
  • > Click on the small 'Camera' icon in 'AK Edit' toolbar
    > In the next window click on the '[ ] All' box down the bottom & also make sure the '[ ] Animate' is ticked
    > Click on [OK] and a set of graphics will be created in a folder called 'screenshots' stored in your 'working' folder
    > You can then upload the 'preview.gif' file to Flickr (or whatever online photo storage site you have) to be used in forums
4316273518_c603507244_o.gif
 
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penthaler

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QUOTE said:
Note that when selecting your new skin you may find the name been truncated - so instead of seeing 'Blue XMB Skin' you may just see 'BLUEXM~1'
In akaio 1.5.1 there is compatibility with long named skins - but if you name it sooooo many signs, it could coincide with description of that row (text on the left) - will be overlayed...

btw. good work - nice tut for how to make it (maybe I test some skins and post them here too
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)
 

CannonFoddr

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penthaler said:
good work - nice tut for how to make it (maybe I test some skins and post them here too
biggrin.gif
)
Can I ask a favour
- If/when you do create any skins, can you either just post the download links in this thread, or perhaps use 'spoiler' tags to hide any screenshots (like I've done in my skins post)
that way this thread stays 'neat-&-tidy' & don't take too long to load (Unlike 'janouis' skin thread
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) - Thanks
 

Masked Ranger

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Just a word of caution with using the AK Edit program from Dan Taylor. The "Folder text" will show up higher in the program's preview window vs. using the skin. Last checked with v1.2.1
 

CannonFoddr

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Masked Ranger said:
Just a word of caution with using the AK Edit program from Dan Taylor. The "Folder text" will show up higher in the program's preview window vs. using the skin. Last checked with v1.2.1
Thanks for pointing that out - yes there is a problem with AK Edit when displaying the preview - not just the folder text.
I did mention in tutorial to 'check it out' on the DS right at the end - but I've altered it to hopefully point out the fact
 

choconado

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bumping for great justice.

Seriously, as simple as this seems, it's already the very best AK skin tutorial I've read on the web. And I looked for days for one. This needs to be stickied for all to see.
 

CannonFoddr

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Slight alteration to tutorial (under AKEdit 'click yes to fix')
Apparently AKEdit will always tell you that graphics are not 16-bit even though they are - & that clicking [Yes] will 'filter' ALL graphics again.

This can cause grainy effect to occur on the graphics if done too many times
 

CannonFoddr

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Leivra said:
Quick question, does GIMP compatible with windows 7?
Their site doesn't say anything about it, and thanks.
I haven't got Win7 so can't say if it does or not... but a quick Google shows that the latest version (2.6.7) does work on Win7 64-bit 'but with a few problems' but seems fine on '32-bit'

No harm in trying
 

cman1783

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Leivra said:
Quick question, does GIMP compatible with windows 7?
Their site doesn't say anything about it, and thanks.

I have it installed on my Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit with no problems. So the answer to your question is yes.
 

CannonFoddr

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ConJ

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bach3609 said:
This is a very nice guide. I do also think it should deserve a sticky. This will help people that want to make skins.
smile.gif

Agreed! This needs to be stickyed. Moderator, make it so!
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Iv'e been looking for something like this for a while.

Nice work CannonFoddr
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Once I get to grips with making skins, ill start posting some up, maybe take some requests.
 
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