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Jun 06

Jun 06

How To Make Your Own PS3 Themes

Noel Silvia's Avatar Posted by


Hi, folks!

My name’s Noel Silvia, and I’m a Graphic Artist and part of the PlayStation Network team.

I’m here today to walk you through how to make and install your own Themes for your PLAYSTATION 3. All you’ll need are:

Start by downloading the “HowToMakePS3Themes.zip”.zip file here and extracting it onto your computer.

In this zip are folders with the necessary files for each step of the process.


Step 1: Create

Let’s start at the very beginning.

  • In this folder, you’ll find the images that make the XMB, its sub-icons, and the background wallpapers for HD and SD resolutions.
  • There is also a file called “PS3Theme_template.xml”, but we’ll come back to that a little later.
  • It’s important that you don’t change any of the file names in this folder. If you do, it will cause problems later on.
  • Start by deciding which icon you’d like to customize and open that image in your image editing program.
  • You can alter the image any way you’d like (change the color, skin the icon, add effects, etc.). You can even replace the image completely with personal photos if you’d like.
  • Just make sure not to change the Pixel Dimensions of the image; so if the icon image is 140 x 140 pixels at the start, make sure it’s the same size at the end.
  • When you are done with your new icon, overwrite the original image with your new custom image.
  • Make sure you save it as a “PNG” file, and not a JPG, BMP, GIF, or any other file type.
  • To create your background wallpaper, follow the same steps above, making sure to maintain the original Pixel Dimensions.
  • The only difference is that when you save your wallpaper image, you’re going to save it as a “JPG” file, and not a “PNG” file like the icons.

Step 2: Assemble

When you’re done making your new icons, it’s time to put the whole thing together and make the actual Theme file.

It helps to have two windows open for this part, one showing the contents of the “Step 1_Create” folder, the other showing “Step 2_Assemble”.

Step2_drag and drop

  • From the “Step 1_Create” folder, click and drag the “PS3Theme_template.xml” file and drop it onto the “p3tcompiler.exe” program found in the “Step 2_Assemble” folder.
  • A new window should appear, showing the program working as it puts together your Theme.
  • If there are any errors, the program will stop at the error, letting you know which file is causing problems.
  • When it has finished assembling the pieces successfully, a “” message will appear, prompting you to press “ENTER” and close the program.


Step 3: Install

Return to your “Step 1_Create folder.

  • You should see a bunch of new files in the folder.
  • The files with the “GIM” extension are special temp files. They were created during assembly but can be deleted now.
  • You should also find a new file called “PS3Theme_template.p3t”. This is your new Theme file.
  • Copy the file onto a detectable USB device or a one of the compatible memory sticks into the proper “Theme” folder ( \PS3\THEME )
  • Connect the device to your PS3 or insert the memory stick into the reader.
  • Under “Settings”, select “Theme Settings”, and then “Theme”.
  • At the very top, there is an “Install” option. Once you’ve installed your Theme to your PS3, your theme will now be selectable your “Theme List”.

…and that’s how you make your own PS3 Themes!

For those of you that’d like a little more customization, please read the “Advanced Tips Guide” in the included “Step 4” folder with some extra info on how to:

  • change your Theme’s title
  • change your Theme’s preview art
  • change your Theme’s font
  • change your Theme’s color selection
  • change your Theme’s Author avatar
  • create a Theme with random background images

I’ll be back next time to show you how to make your own custom Themes for the PSP, but until then, have fun making your own PS3 Themes!

“If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
– William Arthur Ward

Add Your Own

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XxBigP123xX said:

June 6th, 4:03 pm

Hi Noel,

Think we can get some info on when we’re going to get some new PSN avatars? Hopefully before MGS4? :)

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:10 pm

    New avatars are coming in the next few months, although not before MGS4, unfortunately.

Chrisrahosiris said:

June 6th, 4:04 pm

This is a great. I’ve been waiting for an official walk through on how to make a theme. Everyone that is reading this should make a theme for the Playstation Lifestyle theme contest.

spike021 said:

June 6th, 4:05 pm

So…… Where’s the Mac version?

Chrisrahosiris said:

June 6th, 4:06 pm

Sev1512 said:

June 6th, 4:06 pm

Awesome Noel!!! Keep up the great work!!

PlayStationLifeStyle.net was just about to hold a PS3 Theme creation contest…

Now anyone can enter because they can use this tutorial to make their own PS3 themes!

Come on over to http://www.playstationlifestyle.net

for a chance to win a PS3 game in our…

PS3 Theme Creation Contest

Here is the full link to the contest…


tirminyl said:

June 6th, 4:07 pm

Noel, thanks for posting this up. I’ve made a theme at the launch of the tool but have yet to go back and make more.

Are there any plans to provide a GUI interface for the theme maker? This will help those that are more visually oriented.


    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:12 pm

    There are some more user-friendly programs out there that you can purchase. Until we release an actual GUI-based official Theme generator, I thought that people out there might want a cheap and easy solution in the meantime!

Sev1512 said:

June 6th, 4:09 pm

Awesome Noel!!! Keep up the great work!!

PlayStationLifeStyle.net was just about to hold a PS3 Theme creation contest…

Now anyone can enter because they can use this tutorial to make their own PS3 themes!

Come on over to playstationlifestyle.net

for a chance to win a PS3 game in our…

PS3 Theme Creation Contest

RWDY said:

June 6th, 4:14 pm

I’ve always stuck with the XMB wave, and I’ll continue doing so too. It’s so mesmerising, and my XMB without the idle movements of the wave make it look far less elegant.

Mana Knight said:

June 6th, 4:16 pm

Awesome. I’ve always wanted to make themes, so now I’m given the chance. :D

supersnake said:

June 6th, 4:19 pm

Thank you very much, i really appreciate it.

Sev1512 said:

June 6th, 4:19 pm

Cant wait for the new Avatars!

Hopefully there is a Liquid Ocelot avatar!

Sev1512 said:

June 6th, 4:21 pm

@ ManaKnight

If you are gonna make a theme, might as well try your luck in the playstationlifestyle.net
“PlayStation 3 Theme Creation Contest”

The_Rick_14 said:

June 6th, 4:21 pm

Here’s a question for you. I know some of the newer themes from Sony have sounds added to them, but I see nothing about sounds in this tutorial or in the xml file.

I don’t suppose you would know if its possible to add sounds to the theme or not?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:24 pm

    It is possible to add sounds to your Themes.
    However, adding sounds are a little complicated as they require using special audio files.
    I\’ll do an update in a few weeks once everyone is familiar with the basics and talk about some of the more advanced tweaks you can do with Themes.
    Thanks for the suggestion!

XxBigP123xX said:

June 6th, 4:22 pm

Oh, ok. Thanks…i guess…

dnight said:

June 6th, 4:28 pm

>> an image editing program (MSPaint, Adobe PhotoShop, etc.)

Hi Noel,
I just would like to remember GIMP (gimp.org). It is a awesome free software and it can do everything we need to do this, and instead of the other two cited it runs in our PS3 linux ;)

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:34 pm

    Haven\’t ever used GIMP, but any image program that saves images as PNGs should work for creating Themes, and if it\’s free, all the better!
    Thanks for the info!

UntoldDreams said:

June 6th, 4:31 pm


Please ask your developers to make the “compile.exe” program in JAVA next time so Mac/Linux people can join in on the fun.

outkast32 said:

June 6th, 4:31 pm

because you said new avatars arnt comming before mgs4? is that hinting that firmware v2.4 wont be comming before mgs4 or are you not hinting that at all?


June 6th, 4:32 pm

Oh no, I can only imagine the god awful ugly nonsense that people are gonna mess up their XMB with. Look what happened to MySpace…

Luckily I won’t be subjected to it.

Stoffinator said:

June 6th, 4:32 pm

I wish I had the talent to do this.

neo_bahamut said:

June 6th, 4:34 pm

Great post! Keep up the good work Noel!

chamberz840 said:

June 6th, 4:36 pm

Sweet! Thanks for the tutorial. I’ll have to give this a try later.

I just wish I could take a swing at it on my Macbook.

erico316 said:

June 6th, 4:37 pm

thank you so much noel .Noel Silvia you think we “ps3 user” can put theme on the playstation blog have a poll to vote on which we think is the best in the week?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:41 pm

    I was going to encourage people to post links to their own personal ones that they\’ve made, but it seems as if there\’s a website (PlaystationLifestyle.net) that\’s hosting a contest for people to submit and vote on the best Themes. Looks like they\’re giving away a copy of a game too, so I\’d suggest heading over there and seeing the creative Themes people submit!

Ric_Flair said:

June 6th, 4:38 pm

Noel uber pwns.

KillerAJD said:

June 6th, 4:43 pm

I know somebody touched on it above, but a cool guy by the name of A.R.K. made an awesome GUI add-on. Just check out http://www.freewebs.com/ps3themecreator/ if anybody has trouble with the above steps. I know I was lost without a GUI, but A.R.K. fixed that.

KillerAJD said:

June 6th, 4:47 pm

Just one question, do you guys plan on adding the ability to change the color of the font on the XMB? I have some awesome Black on White themes, as well as some other lighter ones which I can’t use because I can’t see the text.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:50 pm

    The coding allows for you to change the default colour as well as the Font, but there currently isn\’t a way to alter the text colour.
    If this gets modified or this feature becomes available, I\’ll definitely update this and let you know here!

TheHakku said:

June 6th, 4:47 pm

Noel, you are the best!

JamesL007 said:

June 6th, 4:50 pm

Is a GUI version of this ever coming at all, I mean I grew up with MS-DOS so thats not a problem for me but I would like to know if a GUI is coming or even being consider at all.

I am still trying to create my themes for tripletags.com, is timely project for one, so many icons to customize and backgrounds to make it leaves you wonder where to start first.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 4:53 pm

    If you find yourself making a bunch of different Themes (each with a bunch of sub-icons!), my advice would be to try to create one set of sub-icons that you like and that apply to multiple Themes, that way you can reuse them every time and only have to create unique images for the main XMB icons.
    Hope this helps!

Engine said:

June 6th, 4:51 pm

Thanks for the update. Maybe I will finally attempt to make a theme :)

KillerAJD said:

June 6th, 4:54 pm

James, search PS3themecreator in google. Awesome little GUI app.

JamesL007 said:

June 6th, 4:57 pm

Thanks Noel, I try to make every theme its own, but yeah having a standard group would help,

Thanks KillerAJD, I will look into that,

spike021 said:

June 6th, 4:58 pm

Comeon Noel, what about us Mac users?

Bender Rodriguez said:

June 6th, 5:01 pm

One question Noel. Has Sony ever considered adding the ability if it’s possible to edit already made themes? To be more specific the name of them and maybe the little thumbnail avatar.

I see so many themes that’s labeled as “Sample” and “Blank” with a wavy colored default thumbnail avatar. I’ve gotten to where I don’t even keep those when I download them and some of them are really good! I’ve often wished I could edit the names of them. The thumbnail avatar I don’t care as much about, but that is annoying as well.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 7:55 pm

    All of the Themes currently available on the PlayStation Store should have unique Tags, Thumbs, and Preview. If you find one that doesn\’t have it, please let me know so I can fix that.

    As for the ones you find online, unfortunately, there isn\’t a way to do it without ripping the Theme, since that information is embedded in the code before it\’s compiled.

    If you\’d like to know how to edit these for your own Themes, check out the \”Advanced Tips\” in the fourth folder.


June 6th, 5:02 pm

I’ll get right on it

chaosatom333 said:

June 6th, 5:02 pm

i did it, it not that hard.

But there needs to be more flexibility or something.

blahblahbloo said:

June 6th, 5:04 pm

Can we make PS3 themes without using Windows?

mr_saturn said:

June 6th, 5:05 pm

This is awesome, thanks! I’ll be waiting for that sound update!

KillerAJD said:

June 6th, 5:05 pm

Bender, check out PS3themecreator in google. It allows you to open themes and change them at will. This is great for changing the name and sample picture, but also if you only want one background/the color of the message window/etc. I would just ask the original creators first before doing it however.

tails-4 said:

June 6th, 5:11 pm

thanks alot for that
i will make mine now

Rogerjak said:

June 6th, 5:13 pm

Very good post. This will come in handy when I have one of mine “artistic inspirations” :P

gardea said:

June 6th, 5:13 pm

Thanks, I’ve been trying to find a good glossy black theme for PS3 but can’t find any, so I guess I’ll have to make my own with this tutorial.

Half_life000111 said:

June 6th, 5:23 pm

be nice if you could use this on a Mac…….. just saying

diablo103 said:

June 6th, 5:31 pm

i really want to make my own themes but this is way to complecated thnx for informing us though. next week with the release of MGS4 will there be official themes to download?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 7:56 pm

    An official MSG4 Theme?
    It\’s very possible that Konami has provided one to promote the launch of the game. ;-)

Macrike said:

June 6th, 5:35 pm

Sometimes I really wonder if Microsoft is actually Sony’s competition. I don’t understand why your software like the PlayStation Store Downloader or this Theme Compiler only work con Microsoft Windows, and there is nothing for Mac and Linux users.

How on earth is a Mac user supposed to create a stunning looking theme for PlayStation 3 when there is no software to do so? I am not going to install Boot Camp or Parallels just for a theme.

I little bit of consideration, please.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 7:58 pm

    I don\’t make the programs, but I\’ll pass along the concern of my Mac-using brethren and see if there isn\’t a solution out there.
    If I can find an alternative, I\’ll make sure to post it here!

Ghostm said:

June 6th, 5:35 pm

Awesome post! Thank you very much.

A how to stream music, podcast and movies to your PS3 from a APPLE Power G5 would be awesome as well!

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 7:59 pm

    If these \”How To\” posts are popular, you can be sured we\’ll do some more of them!

erico316 said:

June 6th, 5:45 pm

Noel Silvia or Jeff can one of you guys give me advice on a good blue tooth headset? I want one for 60 dollars or under.Thanks in advance

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:01 pm

    Let\’s try to keep the comments here On Topic.

    That being said, BlueTooth headsets have come down a lot in price and you should be able to find a decent one for around $20. Check your local cellphone store or your favourite retailer to compare.

BlindMango said:

June 6th, 5:51 pm

can you make a new theme where the icons actually “flow in” with the PSN icon? because in every theme, the psn icon is either too big, small, or is a different color. or you can make the PSN logo custamizible by being able to change it of if unable to do that, making it bigger or smaller.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:02 pm

    The PSN logo is currently unalterable.
    The only way to make it blend in would be to make a purple and silver Theme where all of the icons matched the logo.

Draicus said:

June 6th, 6:02 pm

I’m a huge Theme nerd. I think my current total count is up to 29 themes. Many of them can be found on my Deviant Art page (http://draicus.deviantart.com/) and most are posted on http://www.allps3themes.com/

I’ve found that it’s infinitely helpful if you make a lot of themes and use Photoshop to keep a .PSD with a set of blank icons that you can later copy and paste layer styles to. Saves so much time in the long run.

I’m about to post up my newest theme, with all custom, hand crafted icons, just as soon as I finish making the wallpaper for it.

I still think SCEA should allow user-generated theme submission and should hand pick the best ones each week to upload to the PlayStation Store. That would be awesome!

yxxxx said:

June 6th, 6:11 pm

@13 I was Going to mention The Gimp a truly great open source program.

You should check it out Noel the power of photo shop for free although if your used to photo shop it can seem a little alien although there’s a err mod I suppose that makes it act more like photoshop.

Any plans for a simular post on the psp theme creator?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:03 pm

    I love learning about new programs and techniques, so I\’ll definitely check out GIMP.

    As for one on making PSP Themes, I\’ll have one for you soon. It\’s actually a lot easier as we have an actual program that will do it for you, so there\’s less code to have to worry about.

jgstyle said:

June 6th, 6:23 pm

Yeah I also would like to be able to do all of this on the Mac. However, seeing how he didn’t answer any of the Mac pleas, I’m guessing that it’s not gonna happen.

Luckily I have access to Windows machines at work, so I’m going to follow these steps and then compile it when I get to work.

It sucks though if you can’t get access to a Windows machine.

Momento Mori said:

June 6th, 6:27 pm

Very nice, I will have to try my hand at this for sure. Perhaps later you can run a Playstation Blog on this after we have had a few weeks to practice at it?

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