Interested In Building Custom Themes? Here Is How To Get Started…

February 6, 2010 | By | 16 Comments

There are many ways to personalize your BlackBerry device. For example you can choose to purchase different colored bezels and battery doors or a more permanent customization like a total re-paint through Colorware. What I have found to be the quickest and oftentimes least expensive way to make your BlackBerry truly yours is with a theme.

Themes change the look and feel of your BlackBerry by modifying how your screen looks. Be it through new icons, wallpapers, or even special effects such as moving docks that can hide your icons until you need them, themes are a popular way to make your BlackBerry reflect your own unique personality.

There are many websites that offer both free and paid themes that you can download. These can be done via a zip file that you download to your computer and install through Desktop Manager, or by an OTA (Over-the-Air) link that you click right from your BlackBerry browser. Sometimes though, it can be hard to find that perfect theme to really showcase what image you want to project. Luckily if you find yourself in this situation, RIM has provided you, free of charge, the tools you need to create your own themes.

In this article, we are going to show you what tools RIM is providing and what additional software and resources you may find useful in creating themes. How you can get your finished themes published to share with the rest of the BlackBerry community will be covered in a future article.

First, let’s talk about BlackBerry Theme Studio.  Theme Studio is a free download available from BlackBerry.com. When you download and install Theme Studio, you will see it is actually two programs, BlackBerry Theme Builder and BlackBerry Composer. Theme Builder is the program you will need to create a theme, as well as the files to install the finished theme to your device. Composer is a program for more advanced developers. With Composer you can create things such as animated graphics for the home screen, hidden docks, and different sized icons. To accompany Theme Studio, RIM has provided simulators for each BlackBerry device, so that you can preview and test your themes as if they were on an actual BlackBerry. When you download Theme Studio, I suggest you download the simulators for the devices you plan to create themes for, especially if you don’t have access to these devices hands on.

While at BlackBerry.com, be sure to take a few minutes to look around and you will see that RIM has set up a wealth of information for people looking to create themes. Topics range from a video showing you a theme being built from start-to-finish to a troubleshooting guide full of general and specific topics, as well as instructions for submitting your theme for inclusion in App World.

RIM includes stock icons, layouts, wallpapers and fonts with Theme Studio. Many people are content to stick with these, and rearrange them to their liking. However, if you are interested in doing more with your theme, there are a few additional things you will want to look into.

First, as far as software, you will need a graphics editing program that you are comfortable using. Two popular choices among developers are Adobe Photoshop and Gimp . You will use the graphics editor to resize and recolor images for the main elements of your theme such as icons and wallpapers.

Next, again depending on how much you want to customize your theme, you will need images you want to use for wallpapers and icons. You will find that an internet search engine such as Google can be very useful for finding all of these items, or if you have some talent, you can even design your own! Common websites for downloading free icons to use in your projects include dryicons.com and iconfinder.net.  Many of these free icons have no restrictions on what you can use them for, be it personal or commercial use, but always check to be sure you’re not infringing on copyrights if you decide to sell your theme. Wallpapers can be anything you can imagine, from a photo you have taken to an image of your favorite band or a company or team logo. Again, be careful of copyrights with images you use if you intend to sell your theme. As mentioned, you can also use custom fonts with Theme Builder and Composer. Free fonts can be downloaded from sites such as 1001freefonts.com and urbanfonts.com.

So there you have it, a basic guide to getting started with building custom themes to make your BlackBerry look exactly how you want it to. Depending on your style of learning you have options for your next steps. From here you can dive right in to Theme Builder and get started with a hands-on approach, maybe look online for theme building tutorials, or check out theme developer forums on websites such as BlackBerry.comThemes4BB.com,  or CrackBerry.com.

In our next installment, we will cover the different ways mentioned earlier for getting your finished theme onto your BlackBerry, as well as options for distributing your theme to fellow BlackBerry users.

Filed in: BlackBerry, Downloads, Guides, Themes, Tips n' Tricks, Tutorial | Tags: , , ,

  • lisa

    Wow. Seriously great info. I’ve been looking for a new hobby and really want themes with what I want on them. Incredibly helpful keepem coming!

  • Marley

    What an excellent article Michelle are you new at BBSync?

  • Susan

    Michelle is our newest member of the team, and we’re very lucky and proud to have her on our team. Thanks Michelle!

  • Donnie

    Good read! I have installed the Theme Studio. Now just need to get started!

  • AddictedBB

    Ive always wanted to build my own themes and now I know how thanks to this great article!!

  • Jackie

    Awesome article, has a lot of good information. I will be downloading the software right now :) thanks! :)

  • Pingback: So You’ve Designed a Theme… Now What? : BlackBerry News You Can Sync With… BlackBerrySync.com

  • Mark Cooper

    What are some oter software packages to build themes otherthen the Plaz CDK?
    Thanks,
    Mark

  • Emma

    Hi…I really would like to learn to make themes…and saw that the software requires windows xp pro..I have windows 7 – is there any way to get some response as to compatibility? I can’t find anywhere on the BB site where they will answer this?

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    I justed wanted to suggest a new and better icon search engine, FindIcons.com, which has larger icon collection and complete search filters.

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