Author Topic: Chameleon DNA & Cheetah DNA (skin creation tools)  (Read 8260 times)


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What's this?
It is a fully functioning skin, but with a special feature.

It is intended to be helpful in creating a MusicBee skin.
Both for experienced skinners, and for users that want to take their first shot at designing their own skin.

Usually skinning is a bit of a masochistic endeavour.
Ploughing through up to 400 lines of elements, each containing variations of bg, fg and bdr attributes is not always fun.
And it's not always obvious where and how the element in question will show up exactly.

For this skin I have looked at what elements could be 'partnered together', and created single variables for them.
Each variable only has one rgb value that you need to set.

So when opening the .xml with an editor to edit it, instead of the need to sift through some 400 lines containing more than 800 rgb values, you only need to edit some 130 lines containing one single rgb value.

If you open the xml file, somewhere at the beginning you will see a list of designated skinning variables under <variables>
Each of these variables controls one or more elements that exist under <colours>.

In principle you only need to edit these variables, and simply ignore all elements under <colours>.
That (in general) will give pretty good results already.
In many cases probably even better compared to creating a skin by editing every single element and rgb attribute manually.

If the results after having set all variable values are not completely satisfactory for some specific skin elements, or if you e.g. would like to add gradients to some elements, next you can also edit the elements under the <colours> tree. Just as you would do in a 'normal' xml skin file.
Then just replace the variable names following the original element name to the desired rgb value. (replace the variable name right after bg=, fg= etc.)

download Chameleon DNA

Chameleon DNA also has a faster friend.
See the next post to read about him.
Last Edit: June 11, 2022, 10:10:03 AM by hiccup


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Cheetah DNA

download Cheetah DNA

It's a faster but leaner version of Chameleon DNA.
Only 32 colour elements need to be set to create a new skin.

It doesn't have variables for all the different MusicBee panels such as Chameleon has them, but has partnered all panels together as one single 'Panels'.
This makes creating a more uniform looking skin very easy, and after mastering how it works it should be possible to create a new and good looking skin in some 10-15 minutes.

Same as Chameleon DNA, you should get already very decent results by only editing the values under <variables>.
If after that you want to make further tweaks and refinements such as colouring specific panels, adding gradients, etc. you can drill-down to the <colours> section and make further changes there by replacing the variable names right after 'bg=, fg= bdr=' with rgb values of your choice.

(for that, the Sample Skin is a useful tool to find the specific skinning elements)

- - -

Here are two other examples of skins that were created using Cheetah DNA by only editing the <variables> section:
(but also creating base64 images for the borders)

Cheetah in the Forest

download Cheetah in the Forest

- - -

Cheetah in the Desert

download Cheetah in the Desert

- - -

You can also use the piggyback skin feature on both these DNA skins.
So if you have a bitmapped xmlc skin of which you like the player panel, you can use these skins to alter the rest of it's appearance.
All you have to do is change the second line in the skin that says <root>, to <root dependsOn="SourceSkinName.xmlc">

Then copy your piggyback skin to the same folder as where the source xmlc skin resides.
Be sure to give the piggyback skin a unique name and then select that one as the skin to use in MB.
Last Edit: August 27, 2023, 09:59:51 PM by hiccup


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Nice work!
MusicBee Wiki
Use & improve MusicBee's documentation!

Latest beta patch (3.5)
(Unzip and overwrite existing program files)


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Thanks. I must say it turned out nicer and more interesting than I had guessed when I started this endeavour. (some years ago)


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updated Chameleon DNA

- added alternate lines
- added panel borders
- some minor reordering and renaming of stuff

added Cheetah DNA

- see post #2


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It looks like the Dropbox service was not running on my computer yesterday, so if you downloaded this skin yesterday it was still the old version.
It's now updated for sure.