Taskbar skins, Tray
Aston Shell Taskbar has four states for the Taskbar itself and its elements: Simple (empty
Taskbar), Active state (active window), Inactive state (inactive window), Minimized
state (minimized window). System Tray area can have a separate skin although many designers use
the same texture as for the Taskbar. The most popular way of skinning Taskbar is
tiled skins. You'll have to make a picture with the height of your
Taskbar (usually 22px or so) and 1px width. Actually it can be larger, but since
horizontally the pattern is the same, you don't really need to enlarge the
The skin is taken from Smanic's "XBox" Theme.
The actual image is smaller, but we have tiled it a bit.
Above is a sample of such a texture: 80x22 pixels. The same result can be achieved by
cropping the image to 1x22 px format.
The second kind of tiled skins is slightly more complicated and requires some
additional skills. This time you'll make a longer stripe, which can have a much
more complex pattern. In order to make such skins look better you may need to make them
seamless (look for the corresponding tutorials. Just Google for "seamless texture
tutorial"). Here's such a kind of Taskbar: 363x22 px. It was created for the
"Colony Theme" (by SacRat):
It's not obvious that the image is tiled
You can also create centered or even stretched Taskbar skins, but we'd not
recommend doing that. Stretched skins mostly look ugly because of inevitable
horizontal deformation. Skilled Theme designers try to avoid using them. Centered skins
may only be useful if you make a "solid" taskbar skin (i.e. 1024 and more px
width). Nevertheless in most situations big tiled skins are more than suitable. While
making state buttons (active/inactive/minimized tasks) many experienced skinners follow
one rule: active tasks are often highlighted (brighter than the rest) and inactive are
dull. When using bevels, many prefer "pressed" images for minimized task
Active, inactive and minimized tasks in SacRat's
There're surely exclusions which look pretty nice as well. Just make sure that
users won't have troubles with identifying tasks ;)
Note: don't use motley skins with complex textures on the
Taskbar as this way text on them might be hard to read.
Note: with the implementation of 3PICs for Taskbar skins you can
easily add bevels and flanks to them
Task button based on the "Royal" Theme
System Tray is very often skinned the same way as the Taskbar. Still, creating a
separate skin for it might make it look better. With the implementation of 3PIC support
in Aston 1.9.2 you can easily create beveled skins by using 3PIC flanks.
You can also skin Aston button in Tray in order to make your Theme look more
Note: Aston Tray icon must be a 24 or 8 bit bitmap with the size of 16x16 pixels in BMP or ICO format. It must not have transparent areas or otherwise the image will not be displayed. You can define separate images for both minimized and maximized Tray.