Knack 2

Jun 06

Jun 06

How To Make Your Own PS3 Themes

Noel Silvia's Avatar Posted by PLAYSTATION Store Team

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 “”.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

Momento Mori said:

June 6th, 6:28 pm

1. We need the ability to edit posts.

2. It should be ‘Playstation Blog Contest’ above.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:06 pm

    It seems like there\’s a site that was inspired by this post and is holding a contest to see who can come up with the best PS3 Theme.
    The site [ (IIRC)] is not connected with us here, so it\’s not officially related to us. However, they\’re giving away a game as a prize which is pretty sweet.

Tropic said:

June 6th, 6:33 pm

Airplane avatars please…and I dont mean more warhawk. if you can’t think of any then use ace combat as an example.

manguz2000 said:

June 6th, 6:48 pm

This is cool, thanks Noel always wanted to make my own theme. Looking forward to your future updates.

Gleedemon said:

June 6th, 6:59 pm

Thanks very much, for posting up this guide. I’ll be giving this a try, later for sure. :)

NakedVoldo said:

June 6th, 7:18 pm

bout time yall added a decent guide to making a PS3 theme…….not that I need it or anything :D

Stunt said:

June 6th, 7:26 pm

@ Noel Silvia #1

The next few months? Come on Silvia, Xbox Live practically gets new ones everyday and I have to look at the same ones all the time. Either let us use our own or add new ones every week.

That is stupid, and as I’ve stated before I don’t mean to be rude but we are being treated like crap with store updates (only once a week, demos after Live), avatars, profiles, and online features. Come on guys, actually give us what we want.

thefjk said:

June 6th, 7:40 pm

Really, we need a Mac version man!

Hiruke said:

June 6th, 7:42 pm

It’s nice to hear that new avatars will be coming, as I must admit that I’m not particularly fond of the currently available selections. Hopefully they will include pictures that are more interesting to look at and less game specific.

However! I’d be much more interested in hearing about support for custom avatars. I hope that’s something that is being worked on, as well. Having that roll out sometime this year would be awesome. Obviously that leads to the possibility of some not “work safe” avatars, but that problem is easily solved by only friends being able to view your custom avatar, for example. Thanks!

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:14 pm

    I honestly don\’t understand how anyone can get tired of colored smiley poo! [/sarcasm]
    The new avatars will definitely be more game / gaming specific.
    As for custom avatars, the problem lies with people posting NSFW-type avatars, as you mentioned. Options are being discussed, so we\’ll see what can be done.

Draicus said:

June 6th, 7:59 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 (my username on there is ‘Draicus’ as well).

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 and touching up a few of the media icons.

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!

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 8:09 pm

    When you\’re done making your Theme, feel free to post the link to it here! We\’d love to be able to share your work with everyone reading this!

Lp47 said:

June 6th, 8:06 pm

Thank you for the tutorial when I have time during the summer. I’ll be sure to make a few themes.

Fersis said:

June 6th, 8:07 pm

really nice post and info ,thanks noel
Please please please MGS4 avatar.
For me PS3 == MGS4

corvettes_82 said:

June 6th, 8:24 pm

i know this is off topic but will you get a message accross for me? Im sure you remember the widget for MGS4 that was on here a week or 2 ago and i was wondering if something similar could be made just to advertise The PS3 and show like news and upcoming releases so i can put it up on my Myspace and youtube accounts if this is a possiblity let me know :D thanx

cmargary said:

June 6th, 8:32 pm

Thanks Noel for this guide. there’s a good free tool in that makes everything so easy. i cam mention other themes creators right. Is just that this one is what I used for my theme that I never posted it.

About the custom avatar, you can let use the ps eye only for that. That will make you some people but the cam just for that.

gamesblow said:

June 6th, 9:29 pm

Woah, thanks for this Noel! I was really wanting to get into this and you just made it so much easier for me. I appreciate these times on the psblog, that’s for sure.

hats off to ya!

kujuka said:

June 6th, 9:35 pm

Noel, do i need to download the PNG format to save it as a PNG image? I’m really confused and i tried finding a website to download it and i didn’t know where to find it. Can you help?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 10:36 pm

    I\’ll try to help.
    PNG files are image files, just like JPGs or GIFs, but their own special, unique format.
    If you have a picture that\’s a JPG that you\’d like to use, open it in your image program.
    Go to SAVE AS and switch the file extension to PNG when you save it out.
    Let me know if this doesn\’t answer your question.

striplay said:

June 6th, 9:53 pm

@ Noel…

Does the PS3 currently have support for animated themes?
If not, do you have any idea if/when that ability will be implemented?

Sorry, I know I’m being lazy by asking prior to testing.

P.S. – I agree with Momento Mori @ 47.

We definitely need an option to edit posts in this PS Blog.


Sincerely: Stri

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 10:39 pm

    Hey, Stri.
    Currently, PS3 Themes do not support animated themes. For it to be an animated icon, it would have to be either a GIF or some type of Flash file.
    I\’ll tweak around with the XML to see how it would render animated GIFs, if it even can display them, but I\’m pretty sure it can\’t.
    As for animated backgrounds, that\’s probably something that could be implemented easier, but I haven\’t heard of this happening any time soon.
    Good question though!

liquid_hex86 said:

June 6th, 9:58 pm

Great job on the how to make ps3 themes, I would love to see more.

kujuka said:

June 6th, 10:00 pm

Noel, I really need your help if your still here. I’ve always wanted to create PS3 themes ever since i heard about them.

kujuka said:

June 6th, 10:01 pm

Can anyone here help me out? Besides Noel?

striplay said:

June 6th, 10:01 pm

Sorry for the double post but this just goes to show that clearly an edit option would be useful.

I forgot to say that an easier way to locate personal posts would also be beneficial.
Perhaps a better account system could be devised at some point to accommodate such a request…Please and Thanks!

Sorry…didn’t mean to get off topic.
Have a good night everyone!

Sincerely: stri

DarKaoZ said:

June 6th, 10:27 pm

Nice Tutorial Noel, I have only done 1 Theme so far for the PS3, INKmess, I have others in work but unfortunately I my computer has gone against me and it doesn’t let me work in Photoshop correctly.

Anyways, I wanted to ask, is there any way that you could tell Sony to allow us to put different colors for fonts or different fonts in a future firmware? Or maybe change the position of the XMB? I dunno if you have seen some of the work that you can see in the PSP (unfortunately they are done in illegal matter), they are quite original and cool.

It should be great to see something official from SONY, that way their XMB can turn out to be something fun to see and customize.

Anyways, glad to see SONY showing a official tutorial about Themes. Unfortunately this will bring a lot of bad experiments out in the wild. lol

Again, GREAT JOB in the tutorial.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 6th, 10:46 pm

    I\’ve seen some of the modified PSP XMB displays, and some of them are indeed clever. As for coding this in to the XML for PS3 Themes, I\’ll ask around, but I don\’t believe that this is possible As-Is, since that\’d be a hard-code alteration.

    My XML and coding is rather limited, but I\’ll definitely ask around about altering the Font colour as it would be helpful when creating lighter coloured Themes and backgrounds.

    Again, I have to apologize that I don\’t know the answer to some of the more technical questions since that\’s not my specialty.
    If nothing else, hopefully you guys know that I follow up on the questions I\’m asked and, as always, I\’ll post the answers that I can. Y\’all have given me a great list, so thanks for that!

theonetavy said:

June 6th, 10:49 pm

thanks for the info Noel now ill be able to make a couple of themes

K2016 said:

June 6th, 11:20 pm

Dear Noel, & PS Blog users.
There is a program called “PS3 Theme Creator” that is a much easier way to make custom themes. The PS3 Theme Creator software, an easy to use tool to view, create, generate PS3 Themes. There is no need to go through xml files or menus to create/edit your theme. This tool is a WYSIWYG tool by just pointing and clicking to change theme icons. And it is free! Check it out at:
I use this program to make my own themes or change some themes. There is also another program that I use called “Playstation 3 Theme Builder”, it is also a good program to use. Check this one out at:

So for users that want an easier way they can use tose two programs.

I hope I helped. Oh and by the way,thanks Noel!

Bender Rodriguez said:

June 6th, 11:39 pm

Thanks for the reply; all of the official ones from the store are named properly, of course. I was referring to the ones from other websites.

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John Diamonon said:

June 6th, 11:49 pm

Noel, your avatar rocks!

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John Diamonon said:

June 6th, 11:50 pm

Noel, what you think about the Lost Planet theme?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:28 am

    I like the Lost Planet Theme. I\’m a big fan of Themes that have really unique XMB icons and random backgrounds.
    John – Let\’s talk on Monday about Themes. There are a lot of popular Capcom Titles fans have expressed interested in seeing Themes for.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    John Diamonon said:

    June 7th, 10:08 am

    I got a whole bunch of Udon stuff!!

Macrike said:

June 7th, 4:05 am

Noel, I want to have your job, but in SCEE. haha

I’ve always asked myself who are the people behind the assets like PSN avatars and the themes that get uploaded to the Store and why they never get any credit for them.

Anyway, answering the previous comment. I know it’s not your software, you just use it to create designs. After all, designers are not programmers. When I said “your software” I meant Sony in general.

I’ve already searched for a Mac compiler but with no luck. If only Sony could do a compiler for Mac, and then someone else can easily do the GUI. I mean, it’s no that hard to grab a Cocoa dev and ask him to write some code. I’m sure Sony can handle the cost, and it would benefit so many Mac users.

Same goes for Linux by the way. Can’t leave anybody behind.

Anyway, gonna get back to my theme. I’m gonna have to ask some friend to compile it for me.

Best regards from Spain!

LoadedScorpion said:

June 7th, 4:25 am


LoadedScorpion said:

June 7th, 4:28 am

Hi Noel,

Thanks for this great blog. I have been using this PS3 theme creator and it is so much easier to creat themes with it. Just point click and generate your theme. Check it out at:

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 9th, 9:02 am

    Great find.
    Although I can\’t vouch for this directly, if you\’ve found something that makes making Themes easier, I\’m all for it!
    Thanks for sharing!

Quiiick said:

June 7th, 4:41 am

Hi Noel,

I’d like to remind you that most graphic designers use Apple’s Macs and not WinPCs.

So it would be nice to have a compiler for the MacOS or preferably of course a GU-Interface app for Macs.

Yours, Quiiick

volgan said:

June 7th, 5:08 am

sony playstation portable is becoming so focked up that they cant even make long games

NexusSIX said:

June 7th, 5:40 am

Will there be a way of adding moving pictures later on to themes? ie animated gifs, avi, mp4s, flv?

Sephiroth said:

June 7th, 5:45 am

Hi Noel, I got a suggestion, since Linux can be installed on PS3, and as a way to encourage people to use it, and as a really good free OS it is, why don’t you try to make this walkthroughs using Linux ? If you don’t have a copy, try Ubuntu,, yes it is free, and obviously legal, and in the process, using GIMP, it comes with Linux ;)

Because, you see, since Windows is a Microsoft product, using screenshots to show the process that were done on Windows, is like making some free publicity for them, don’t you think? But if u use Linux instead, it will give people some sense of “is that Linux? It looks cool, maybe I’ll try on my PS3”

Well, read ya later ! ;)

*Summonning Meteor…*

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:21 am

    Thanks for the idea, Sephi.
    We\’ll see if we can get a \”How To: Using Linux of your PS3\” feature up here on the future.
    If we do, I\’ll make sure to update this with your suggestion.
    Thanks for the idea!

GVON said:

June 7th, 6:22 am

need help please.

I’ve created a PS3 folder my nano and in that a folder named THEME, I dropped the new file called PS3Theme_template.p3t into it.
I proceeded with the install as shown above, selected my device and it says ” there are no themes”.

any help is much appreciated.

MagNuM-OPs said:

June 7th, 6:26 am

great tutorial. im also interested like post 11 in adding sounds to themes. that would be awesome

DarkWolf said:

June 7th, 6:49 am

There is an inherent problem in using animated GIFs, in that GIF, like JPG, is a raster (pixel-based) based image format. Since the ps3 can support multiple display resolutions, this becomes a problem. 140×140 is very very tiny in 1040i/p. PNG was PROBABLY chosen as the format for the ps3 themes because it’s vector based (basically, lines and geometric shapes define the image: and as such, they can be resized by the rendering engine to whatever size is necessary for the given display resolution without losing any of the quality and sharpness of the image. Although… it still would be cool to have some animation available to play with… some. (I’m picturing myspace… a dozen icons on my screen that are all bouncing, moving, etc? no thanks! but that’s just my tastes.)

Now onto my question! What about rendered backgrounds? The default ps3 wave background is gorgeous, but it would be fun for those of us more versed in video animation/graphics to be able to create our own moving backgrounds of that nature. I have a feeling the default one is something that is actively being rendered on the spot for the ps3, so it may not be an option, BUT… maybe in the future, add firmware support to render the waves (and maybe more animations:)) OVER a custom background. Suddenly, you can have fun creating a background that will complement the animation… just a thought. I’m fond of good eye candy!

GVON said:

June 7th, 7:00 am

worked out what I did wrong, I was trying to import the the original PS3Theme_template and not the PS3Theme_template.p3t,

it’s late :0

ionwaffle said:

June 7th, 7:06 am

will it ever be possible to put our own pictures on as avatars?

Ramage said:

June 7th, 7:09 am


Enedok said:

June 7th, 7:22 am

I think this post has the highest rate on playstation blog yet.

Ontopic: the PSN icon is not bad looking, but it puts a lid on creativity when making a new theme. Looking forward to the day we can change it. Also, if you guys are really cool, you put the original image out with the layers, vectors and full resolution. Then we can tweak the color and design. (Etc, ninja design, pirate skull, anime style, ++++)

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:26 am

    I don\’t know about doing a \”pirate skull\” design for the logo, I mean, come on:
    Ninja > Pirate
    I agree that the icon can be a bit \”noticeable\” at the moment, but it\’s possible that this will be editable down the line.

MeltTech said:

June 7th, 7:42 am

Awesome post Noel. This is great, my new wife of 3 weeks today is away for a wedding shower, so I got all this free time to play with this.

I was just actually logging on to look for you. I know you said to keep it on-topic, but the recent Firmware Update post is quite down the list.

Anyway you can pass on the recommendation to fix the videos to return to XMB after play, instead of pause || after play? Also what about multiple network settings saved at once, ala PSP?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:32 am

    Congrats on your recent marriage!
    Have you tried making a \”Our Wedding Theme\” using photos from the wedding?
    Themes don\’t always have to be super elaborated, or require you to spend hours designing intricate icons.
    Some of the best Themes can be the ones that are also the most personal – plus, if it gets the both of you to play together, all the better!

    As for your Firmware suggestions, I\’ll make sure to pass those along to Eric and see what he\’s able to do.
    Thanks for the comment!

VenomX said:

June 7th, 7:56 am

Hey Noel. I appreciate you answering questions because by doing so you already answered mine. But I have one more question that I see wasn’t answered. Will our custom themes be available via in-game XMB? thanks.

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:33 am

    What\’s this In-Game XMB you speak of?

surgesnugs said:

June 7th, 9:05 am

What’s with the lack of Mac support? I understand Sony needs to release a PC version first, just based on user numbers, but why is there no support for the competitive platform to MS Windows? One reason I never bought an Xbox or a 360 is I can’t stand MS software, and that’s the same reason I bought a Mac. These applications; the PC Store and this theme application, can’t be that complex that a port can’t be created fairly easily.

hijaker77 said:

June 7th, 9:33 am

This is great, I wonder if I can get PSP themes and would the themes brick my PSP?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 7th, 9:37 am

    Since people seem to have found this one helpful, I\’ll be doing a follow-up to this to show you how to do them for your PSP.

    Changing the Theme should not brick your PSP if you are only applying a Theme.
    PSP files are \”.PTF\” files, so make sure those are what you\’re using.

Conch_Bubby said:

June 7th, 9:44 am

When will a mac version come out?

Sephiroth said:

June 7th, 9:52 am


Call me Sephi again, and I’ll slash your butt death

Now, seriously, I can try to take the screenshots for the process myself on my PC with Linux if you want, I’m a little short of time right now but maybe next week I’ll find some time for it, if you want why don’t you give some mail address to send you the pics ?

    Noel Silvia's Avatar

    Noel Silvia said:

    June 9th, 9:04 am

    If you could send a reply in using the Email Us function in the sidebar, I\’d love to talk to you about this some more.
    Personally, I\’m unfamiliar with Linux, but if there\’s a way that we can get this information out there, I\’d love to do a follow up with this.
    Thanks for the help!

hijaker77 said:

June 7th, 10:09 am

@ Noel

Once again Thank you and I appreciate your help and honesty

pancakesandsx said:

June 7th, 10:43 am

A nice addition to the Theme support would be a way to turn custom theme sounds off.

Sometimes I really like the look of a theme and its icons, but the sounds they chose for the menu are grating and i would prefer the regular XMB click. I know you can disable them completely, but it would be nice to have the option to mix and match, much like you can currently do with backgrounds.

3 choices “Theme” “Default” and “Off” rather than just on/off

NickDude said:

June 7th, 10:47 am

Is it possible for you to release an animated background for the XMB like the menu for the Playstation 2, with the swishing balls and swoshing sounds. I’d really like that.

cb_32 said:

June 7th, 11:07 am

awesome, thanks.

ive always wanted to make my own

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