Creating Shapes

Shapes provide an easy way to create a standard menu using a simple background image (still or moving) without an overlay. These shapes can be either the ones supplied with DVD Studio Pro or shapes that you create.

Shapes can be used for buttons and for drop zones. (Drop zones are graphic elements that get added to the menu background and have no effect on the buttons.) You can position the shapes and change their size freely, and even have full-motion video play in them (motion buttons).

See Adding Shapes to a Menu for information on using shapes with the Menu Editor. See Importing a Shape for information on importing shapes into the Palette.

Creating a Shape

A shape is a Photoshop PSD file with up to four layers. DVD Studio Pro uses the layer order to determine which layer serves each function.

Figure. Layers tab in a Photoshop window showing the four layers of a shape.
  • First (bottom) layer: Contains the mask for the thumbnail image used when you assign an asset to a button or drop zone. This layer should have a grayscale image to control the thumbnail’s appearance. White areas are completely opaque (you see all of the thumbnail image), gray levels are partially transparent, and black levels are completely transparent (you see none of the thumbnail image). The mask can use an irregular shape—the asset is scaled to fill it completely. Any part of the asset that falls outside the mask then gets removed. If you don’t want a thumbnail image, you must still have this layer present, but you can draw a black square or any simple image.

    When you activate drop shadows on a button or drop zone using a shape, DVD Studio Pro uses this layer, along with the second layer, to define the shape of the drop shadow.

    Note: If you make the image mask layer (the first layer) of a shape the same size as the shape’s graphics layer (the second layer), you may see some of the mask layer around the edges of the graphics layer. This is because the shape’s graphics layer is processed differently than the mask layer. You can work around this issue by making the mask layer slightly smaller than the graphics layer.

    Figure. First layer, the thumbnail image mask.
  • Second layer: Contains the shape’s visible graphic. When used as a button, this is the layer that determines how the button looks in its normal state. DVD Studio Pro uses the RGB values for the shape. See Setting a Shape’s Opacity if you want this layer to be partially transparent. Be sure to flatten any effects you apply to the layer. (See Flattening a Photoshop Layer for details.) Because this layer has a higher priority than the first layer, it must provide a “window” to the thumbnail mask (if used).

    When you activate drop shadows on a button or drop zone using a shape, DVD Studio Pro uses this layer, along with the first layer, to define the shape of the drop shadow.

    Figure. Second layer, the visible graphic.
  • Third layer: Contains the highlight mask. This layer defines where the highlight colors appear when you use the shape as a button and the button is selected or activated. The actual image color does not matter, because it is this layer’s opacity that defines the highlight, with 100% opacity selecting the black highlight color and 0% selecting the white highlight color.

    This layer is ignored if you use the shape in a drop zone.

    Important: If you use this layer’s opacity to create pseudo-soft or anti-aliased edges or to have multiple highlight colors appear at once, you can only use the shape in menus set to use the advanced grayscale overlay method. In these cases, the opacity values map to the overlay colors as follows: 100% maps to black, 99% to 67% maps to dark gray, 66% to 17% maps to light gray, and 16% to 0% maps to white.

    Figure. Third layer, the highlight mask.
  • Fourth layer: Contains the shape’s icon, which appears in the Shapes tab in the Palette and shape selector in the Button and Drop Zone Inspectors. This is an optional layer—the second layer provides this function if this layer is not present. The disadvantage of using the second layer is that often the shape alone does not provide a good indication of what the button will look like once you assign an asset to it. DVD Studio Pro uses the RGB values for the icon.

    Note: Do not include the fourth layer in the file unless you are adding a graphic to be used as the thumbnail. Adding an empty fourth layer results in a shape that you cannot use in DVD Studio Pro.

    Figure. Fourth layer, the shape's icon.

Setting a Shape’s Opacity

DVD Studio Pro does not use the opacity settings you can apply to the layers within Photoshop. As a result, you cannot use the second layer’s opacity setting to control the transparency of the shape’s visible graphic. As an alternative, you can use Photoshop’s merge capability to get the desired effect.

To set a shape’s opacity
  1. Create the shape in Photoshop as usual.

    It’s a good idea to save the shape at this point so that you can go back to it if you later need to adjust the opacity or content.

  2. Set the opacity for the second layer (the shape’s visible graphic).

  3. Add a new layer to the graphic, and place it below the second layer. (It becomes the second layer, and the second layer becomes the third layer.)

  4. Select the original second layer (which is now the third layer).

  5. Press Command-E to merge the selected layer with the new empty layer.

The two layers merge into a new second layer, and the original second layer is deleted. When this shape is imported into DVD Studio Pro, this new second layer will use the opacity you set before the merge.

General Shape Information

When creating a shape in Photoshop, set the new image settings to the following:

  • Width and Height: Set to values that will hold the shape at the largest size it will ever be used at in DVD Studio Pro (quality tends to suffer much more when you make a shape larger than the original than it does when making the shape smaller). Be sure the shape’s graphics come as close to the edges of the canvas as possible—the canvas defines the button’s active area. A typical button size is 200 pixels wide by 150 pixels high.
  • Resolution: Set to 72 pixels per inch. DVD Studio Pro bases the image size on the number of pixels there are—the resolution does not affect its size when used on a menu.
  • Mode: Set to RGB Color.
  • Contents: Set to Transparent.

Keep these additional points in mind when creating your shapes:

  • It does not matter which layers are visible when you save the shape’s file.

  • You do not have to rasterize layers with text. You do have to flatten them if you apply an effect to them.

  • Be sure that the colors you use are within broadcast limits. You can create shapes that look great in the graphics program but look a lot different once you use them in a DVD project.

  • You may want to design shapes with the specific intention of using them for drop zones. This allows you to have drop zones with irregular edges. You need to use the layers exactly as you do when creating a button’s shape, except that the highlight layer is not used with drop zones. Shapes created for buttons can also be used for drop zones. See Adding Drop Zones to Your Menu for more information.

Shape Aspect Ratios

Shape graphics are automatically scaled to maintain their aspect ratio. If you create a square graphic and import it as a shape, it will be scaled so that it remains a square graphic in DVD Studio Pro (as long as you add it to a menu by dragging it to an empty area).

While the rescaling makes the graphic look correct in the Menu Editor, the shape’s dimensions look incorrect as shown in the Button Inspector or Drop Zone Inspector. For example, if you create a square shape that is 200 pixels wide by 200 pixels high, its size will appear as either 200 pixels wide by 180 high (if applied to an NTSC menu) or 187 pixels wide by 200 pixels high (if applied to a PAL menu), when added to a menu as a button or drop zone.