Create Your Own PS3 Themes

Hi Everyone, This is Wael here – I am one of the Online Designers here at PlayStation Europe and I am here to talk to you about how to create your very own PS3 custom themes. Here is the custom theme tool at

I have created several custom themes available on PlayStation Store – you may be familiar with themes such as Manga, Graffiti and Rag-doll Kung-fu. The Manga and Graffiti themes were created on a PC and are based on my creative interests in urban street art, Japanese anime and Manga comics.

Coming up with theme ideas is really fun and can be challenging; I’ve discovered it’s always good to start your ideas by thinking of a good background image before you begin work on the icons. A character, scene or texture is a good starting point to begin with and that will help you ensure your icons will fit with the chosen background.

If you like to keep things simple you can use the icons provided with the theme kit and edit them however you like e.g. change the colour of the icons or maybe add some shadow behind.


When creating a background image it is important to know which areas will be covered up by the XMB and system menu. Below is an image guide to show you which areas to avoid. This will ensure the visibility of the XMB icons and system menu. Avoid using bright background colours to ensure the legibility of the system menu fonts. Adding contrast between the background image and XMB icons will also give much better stand-out. You can always test your icons quickly by dropping them onto the background image in your image software to see how they will look.


When previewing your background image design on a TV screen you might find some elements are cut off around the screen edges. A good way to avoid this happening is by keeping important artwork inside the ‘safe’ area. Here’s a sample safe area guide along with the dimensions:


It can be a good idea to check your theme using your PS3. Even if your theme is not complete – testing a few of your custom and standard icons alongside each other helps a lot – try compiling your unfinished theme to see your work in progress.

Manga Theme

This idea was based on Japanese Anime and my interest in Manga


I started by sketching out the icons very loosely using a calligraphy brush on paper. Once happy with this route I began creating them digitally in Adobe Flash using my graphics tablet and then transferred them into Adobe Photoshop to edit and export them.

Here’s an example of the Manga Game Icon that I created alongside the standard default Game XMB icon.


Graffiti Theme

For this theme I wanted to create an urban graffiti wall scene. The background was created using a photographic image texture of a concrete wall.


I wanted to give the icons a distressed/spray painted feel. I took the standard icons and with my graphics tablet, distorted brushes and spray brush effects in my photoshop library I began giving the icons a distressed look. Here are some before and after examples of the icons that I created.


If you have any comments fire them over and I will be more then happy to answer any questions you may have about PS3 custom themes.

Let’s get creative people.

Did you enjoy this?


103 Comments 20 Author replies
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sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 3:04 pm   1

Does this allow you to create Dynamic Themes?

vicheous 5 August, 2010 @ 3:05 pm   2

Cool! I’ll have a go at it 😉

brunettepride 5 August, 2010 @ 3:06 pm   3

Awesome, thanks! I’ve been meaning to make some as I’ve got the ideas, maybe I’ll finally get around to them now. 😀

HERMAN_JELMET 5 August, 2010 @ 3:07 pm   4

Does It have an icon for the new video editor?

sully, the dynamic themes are in a completely different extension (i think .vmf something)

the_ghost__NL 5 August, 2010 @ 3:08 pm   6

how about creating your own dynamic theme.
nice btw i didn’t know these where made on a PC. keep up the good work

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 3:18 pm    

    Hey the_ghost__NL

    You can create the icons and background wallpapers on any photo editing software on both PC and Mac.

    Its only the Theme compiler that needs a PC 🙂

turbogeek421 5 August, 2010 @ 3:08 pm   7

There goes my evening!

Carla_Birch 5 August, 2010 @ 3:08 pm   8

Will the theme maker ever get updated to support the latest firmware versions that have new icons? If im right its still designed for 1.8

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 3:10 pm   9

Whn I try to open the app, it pops up briefly with some ms-dos then disappears!

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 3:24 pm    

    Hey Sully1311,

    Are you to compile icons, wallpapers you created into the tool?

Schumi-01 5 August, 2010 @ 3:12 pm   10

Looks good, but why do developers keep releasing New Themes which do not support the new icons on the XMB???

TheHudfather 5 August, 2010 @ 3:14 pm   11

AWESOME, thanks Wael 🙂

Carla_Birch 5 August, 2010 @ 3:15 pm   12

@10 Its likely due to some the XMB icons being trade mark logo’s and not infact just icons.


as usual it’s for windows…

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 3:26 pm    

    Hey ik00R

    The theme tool is only for compiling your theme but creating them can be done on either a PC or Mac 🙂

salmiakki 5 August, 2010 @ 3:17 pm   14

Yes Wael.

Forsinain42 5 August, 2010 @ 3:17 pm   15

Awesome! Kevin Butler theme here I come!

Schumi-01 5 August, 2010 @ 3:18 pm   16

@ 12 Carla you may well be right, pity though seeing I can update other Themes people have made to show the new icons.

kontraband 5 August, 2010 @ 3:19 pm   17

oh sweet. Shame I totally suck at graphics stuff. I’ll stick to gaming then. Look forward to a few new quality releases.


@wael and for us linux users?

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 3:29 pm   19

Wael – I’m trying to open up the p3tcomplier application but it won’t open. Just keeps opening up command prompt very quickly then disappears!

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 3:35 pm    

    Hey Sully,

    Have you tried extracting the zip file?

    You will need to extract the zip file into a folder.

    Hope this helps, any problems give me a shout.

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 3:51 pm    

    Hey everyone,

    Just to confirm with you the p3tcompiler.exe is not an application or software that you install on your PC.

    Once you have created all your assets you basically the XML file inside the folder and drag onto the p3tcompiler.exe this will begin to compile your theme and you a p3t file will be created for you that you can put onto your PS3.

    Give me a shout if your having problems.

    Enjoy 😀

sagar554 5 August, 2010 @ 3:38 pm   20

the software doesn’t load I click it and it asks e to run it but after i click on run it opens up command prompt very quickly then disappears

ImaginedBug 5 August, 2010 @ 3:38 pm   21

What kind of PPI should be used for the backgrounds and icons? Do TVs really display at 72PPI (the sample backgrounds are at 72PPI)?

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 3:41 pm   22

Wael – Yep its extracted.

TheNarrator 5 August, 2010 @ 3:42 pm   23

some totally useful info for theme making, thanks dude! tis great seeing loads of different designs being made all the time (though a shame we still cant change all non-trademarked icons yet 8().

its also odd that Sony hasnt given us a much *much* easier program to make themes with 8/. but still, better than nothing for sure 😀

we’ve made a super-rare Killzone theme and give it away during our KillzoneAM event on the forums, hehe. shameless promotion ftw! 🙂

Saber_IV 5 August, 2010 @ 3:42 pm   24


I’m getting this too. But I haven’t started any icons or anything yet. I’m just wondering if it’s a program that actually opens and works, or if you sorta Drag + Drop your theme folder ONTO the P3Tcompiler.

If it’s not… Then yeah, issue with the program. I’m using Vista x64.

Danlisa 5 August, 2010 @ 3:44 pm   25

Nice stuff. BTW, are the newest Icons included within the Creation Tool. Last time I used it some were missing.

FYI, the compilation script/application is a commandline tool and you need to drag and drop your altered/new XML document on to it (you need the XML in the same folder as your icons). Try reading the README. 😉

@ Wael

Can you also tell everyone about the XML changes you can make, such as Icon and Font highlight colour. It’s very useful for certain colour backgrounds and wallpaper. 😉 As you might tell, I’ve spent too much time messing about with this app.

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 4:02 pm    

    Hey Danlisa,

    You can check the instructions provided with the tool Custom_Theme-Specifications_e.pdf

    Hope this helps 🙂

wardragon989 5 August, 2010 @ 3:47 pm   26

If you guys are pushing this, how about also allowing us to have an official site where they would be categorised and possible addition to the psstore?

Agamer2006 5 August, 2010 @ 3:47 pm   27

Ive been creating themes for awhile now, but its gret to see someone from SCEE providing tips for other people to make their own themes.

Would be great if SCEE had a webpage were users can upload their themes

mariobros 5 August, 2010 @ 3:49 pm   28

This is not an application. You do not need to open the compiler tool
You only use it at the end to compile your finished theme. Nice Wael

greekgoddj 5 August, 2010 @ 3:50 pm   29

Brilliant idea to open up the creation of themes…. I cannot wait to see what people come up with!

commuterzombie 5 August, 2010 @ 3:54 pm   30

Cool, will give this a try when I have a sec.

Agamer2006 5 August, 2010 @ 3:59 pm   31

Here is an Uncharted 2 theme I have created, if anyone is interested

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 4:03 pm   32

my anti virus said that file had a virus agamer2006!

Agamer2006 5 August, 2010 @ 4:05 pm   33

Huh, shouldnt be a virus. Can a mod delete that link and I will try to put up a new link.

RazerPhoenix 5 August, 2010 @ 4:08 pm   34

Really nice post, one request though:

Would it be possible to provide the exact positioning of the xmb relative to the background image?

The basic image provided would be much more helpful if it specified exact positions as it does with the safe area one.

Agamer2006 5 August, 2010 @ 4:08 pm   35

Just downloaded it myself and there is no virus in the file, so it must be your anti virus.

However just to be on the safe side, can a mod delete this link.

A good point though that we need a website to put our own themes on

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 4:09 pm   36

I dont get how to do this what so ever! I’m so dumb. Help! I’ve got the background I want to use, now what?

d34d_ph3n1x 5 August, 2010 @ 4:11 pm   37

How toç create dynamic themes ?

Danlisa 5 August, 2010 @ 4:12 pm   38

“Hey Danlisa,

You can check the instructions provided with the tool Custom_Theme-Specifications_e.pdf

Hope this helps”

Hey Wael, there’s nothing in the PDF about Highlight Colours. I already know about them but others won’t.

To be helpful here they are:

Open the XML with notepad etc and look for the following line : Colour Selection = “” (at the very bottom, you can also set the Font to be used here aswell)

Between the ” ” you can assign a value which determines the colour, these are:

0 = Original (Uses system timer set color)
1 = White
2 = Yellow
3 = Light green
4 = Pink
5 = Dark green
6 = Pale purple
7 = Cyan
8 = Dark blue
9 = Purple
10 = Orange
11 = Brown
12 = Red

Next to nobody knows about this alteration and it will certainly help when Text and Icons do not ‘stand out’ against the backgrounds.

Hope it helps. 🙂


my distro doesn’t accept the .dll’s

BiosNova 5 August, 2010 @ 4:16 pm   40

So it was YOU who set the notification box to an unreadable colour on the Managa theme!

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 4:19 pm   41

Wael, i’ve got my 3 different background images, I just want to use the default buttons, now what?

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 5:04 pm    

    Hi Sully1311,

    Make sure your wallpapers are named as


    If you have have created SD wallpapers too then name them like this


    Make sure these are specified in the xml sheet.

    Have fun 🙂

sully1311 5 August, 2010 @ 4:26 pm   42

DW, figured it out. My uni experience atm is now paying off. Ta Notepad++. What folder do you put it in on a memory stick so it can be read on the ps3?

Danlisa 5 August, 2010 @ 4:27 pm   43

@ Sully1311

Rename your backgrounds to the same as the Sample ones. Copy & Overwrite the sample ones, then ensuring the backgrounds, icons and XML documents are all in the same folder, drag and drop the XML on to the Application. Your theme will now compile.

Danlisa 5 August, 2010 @ 4:29 pm   44

@ Sully

Root / PS3 / THEME

Sp4reNL 5 August, 2010 @ 4:33 pm   45

Is it possible to get a Linux version one day soon? (Ubuntu 10.04 64bits)

I don’t use Windoze or Mac.

WillPG1212 5 August, 2010 @ 4:36 pm   46

Wow, your the one who made that Manga theme!

awesome, is there any chance youl go back to it and update it?
its one of my favourite themes, but there were a few problems with it, 1. no trophy and playlist (and other new features) icons.. and 2. the color of the notification messages were troublesome to read.

not complaining, by any means. just wondering if it would be easy to udate on the store ? 🙂

Either way, thanks for the explanation, i might give this a try, tho my photoshop skills are… well … 😛

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 5:12 pm    

    Yep the Manga theme was created by me.

    Really glad you like it 🙂

if you want us to share our themes with you Sony, it will only cost you 1.99$


I think there should be a section on the playstation store where you can download user-created themes…

Too bad there isn’t a linux version… luckily, i know how to use wine =)

M3RL1NS_N3M3S1S 5 August, 2010 @ 4:52 pm   49

i’m with a few others on the question about icons… even the new Plus Exclusive themes are missing they’re styling on the newer xmb icons… surely it cant be that hard to add icons to the editor as they are released on the ps3’s firmware?

when will we see an update to the software to allow for the new icons? (icons for everything new from introduction of minis (including minis) is not included in any themes recently) 🙁

    Wael Naguib 5 August, 2010 @ 5:11 pm    

    Hi M3RL1NS_N3M3S1S,

    Most themes on the store have been created before some firmware updates and the themes have not been updated to show the new icons.

Mikal_Drey 5 August, 2010 @ 4:53 pm   50

hey hey

is there any particular reason why the network icon is never changed ? ive always found that a little weird.

also is there ever going to be a theme creator thats a little more idiot proof maybe a nice GUI based version for the ps3 itself would be an awesome (sorry for the word abuse) “app” 🙂

lastly what about a theme extractor ? there are some superb walpapers created with horrifc themes some way to extract and redit would be nice too.

mucho gratis in advance

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