AUGUST 27, 2003
The DVD Studio Pro 2.0 Walkthrough
Part 1: Basic creation of custom shapes, buttons and drop zones
by David Nagel

When I got my first gander at Apple's DVD Studio Pro 2.0, I knew instantly I'd be launching out a whole new tutorial series on customization and design techniques. But where to start? Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be covering just about every aspect of this program to help you get started with DVD design and get into some advanced techniques, but I thought I'd kick things off at the point where most users begin to customize their DVD projects: buttons and drop zones.

DVD Studio Pro 2.0 includes full support for custom graphics created in programs like Adobe Photoshop. But for creating custom buttons, shapes and drop zones, it goes even further, utilizing Photoshop's layer structure to define individual elements of the custom buttons so that you don't have to create separate images for shapes, highlights and masks. This is what we'll be looking at today.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Now, in DVD Studio Pro 2.0, Photoshop files can be used for button creation in two ways: first, for creating straightforward buttons that sit on top of your menu background; second, for creating whole layouts, including backgrounds. The second method is more limiting than the first, since it requires that you use a still background. So we'll concentrate on the first method for this tutorial.

In DVD Studio Pro 2.0, buttons and drop zones are identical in terms of how you create them. Begin by opening up Photoshop and creating four layers in the following configuration:

1. The bottom layer is called "Mask."
2. The second layer up is called "Shape."
3. The third layer is "Highlight."
4. And the top layer is called "Icon."

The Shape layer
But we'll go out of order here, beginning with the Shape layer, since it will be the starting point for most of you. The "Shape" layer is the portion of your button that's visible in the normal, unselected shape. In other words, it's the button itself as seen by the viewers of your DVD. Your shape can be any image, text or combination thereof, so long as it winds up as a single layer before you bring it into DVD Studio Pro. For this example, I'm going to create a button that looks like a tilted mirror frame, since this shape will help illustrate an important point about your Mask layer.

Note that where you want the background of your DVD to show through your button, you must leave those areas transparent on your Shape layer, as illustrated in the example above.

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