Button subpictures

About button subpictures

A DVD or Blu‑ray Disc player uses button subpictures to highlight buttons. A button subpicture defines the appearance of a button when it’s selected, activated, or in its normal (unselected) state. All the predesigned buttons included with Encore come with button subpictures. Encore can create subpictures for a button and update the text in the button subpictures automatically any time you change the text on the button. For full control over the design of button subpictures, you can create them in Photoshop. (See Create subpictures in Photoshop.)

You can create button subpictures from predesigned buttons in the Library panel, the Object > Create Subpicture command, or by designing new in Photoshop. Regardless of how you create your button subpictures, you set the colors used for button subpictures in the Color Set dialog box.

Create automatic button subpictures

The easiest way to create a button subpicture is to use the Object > Create Subpicture command. This command creates a single-color image of the button. It bases the shape of the created subpicture on the text and image layers that are set as visible within the button layer set. Before you use the command, you can hide layers in the button set using the Layers panel. You can then control which elements Encore uses to create the button subpictures.

The colors displayed for each button state come from the color definitions in the color set, not from the button itself. By default, Encore uses the Automatic color set, which is based on the colors of the subpicture layers of the button. You can design more complex, three-color button subpictures in Photoshop. (See Create subpictures in Photoshop.)


The predefined menus and buttons in the Library panel include button subpictures.

  1. Open the menu. In the Menu Viewer, select a button.

  2. If you want to create button subpictures based only on certain layers, use the Layers panel to hide the button layers you don’t want used.

  3. Choose Object > Create Subpicture.

  4. In the Properties panel, select a color group from the Highlight pop‑up menu.

Encore assigns the selected Color Group to the button.


If the Highlight pop‑up menu is dimmed, the menu is using the Automatic color set.

Paste an image as a subpicture

The Paste As Subpicture command lets you quickly create a single-color subpicture from a layer in the menu.

Encore supports 8-bit color in subpictures for Blu-ray disc menus. You can export 256-color menu subpictures for Blu-ray. In addition, you can export full original colors for menu button highlights in Flash.

To export subpictures in full original colors, select Export Highlights in Rich Color in the Menu Properties pane. Encore displays menu highlights with full colors in Menu Editor.

However, Encore only displays two-bit DVD colors in the Preview panel. If you do not enable this feature, Encore exports menu highlights in two-bit colors for Blu-ray and Flash.

Encore also lets you import colors for various states of button highlights for blu-ray and web DVD. You can use numeric prefixes to distinguish states, such as normal, selected, and activated and import colors individually for these states. For example, use (=1)prefix for the normal state. Use (=2)prefix for the selected state and (=3)prefix for the activated state.


You can create invisible buttons by using the Paste As Subpicture command in a layer without any buttons selected.

  1. Open the menu.

  2. In the Layers panel, select the layer you want to use as a subpicture, and choose Edit > Copy.

  3. Select the button layer set into which you want to paste the new subpicture.

  4. Choose Edit > Paste As Subpicture.

    The image is pasted into the button layer set and is given the subpicture prefix (=1).

  5. In the Properties panel, select the desired color group from the Highlight pop‑up menu.

Encore assigns the selected Color Group to the button. 


If the Highlight option is dimmed in the Properties panel, the menu is using the Automatic color set.

Update subpicture text automatically

The button property Create Text Subpicture can automatically generate a subpicture for button text. Any time you change the text, it regenerates the subpicture for you—you don’t have to manually update the subpicture layers. This option is very useful as you develop the menus in a project or if you create menus to be customized by others.

  1. In the Menus panel, select the menu containing the buttons with subpicture text.

  2. In the lower section of the panel, select all the buttons that you want updated automatically.

  3. In the Properties panel, select Create Text Subpicture.

Create subpictures in Photoshop

Subpictures can be difficult to understand, especially if you are accustomed to creating rollovers for web pages. Although on the surface subpictures and web-page rollovers appear alike—they both indicate button status—the DVD requirements make subpictures very different.

The first concepts you need to understand are as follows:

  • The subpicture is like a transparent overlay that sits on top of the menu.

  • The DVD or Blu‑ray Disc player uses the same overlay for all three button states. (Even the normal state uses the same subpicture.)

  • The color set, not the colors in your original image, ultimately control the colors displayed in the subpicture. (Technically, the subpicture overlay is a two‑bit indexed image.)

  • The subpicture is limited to three colors (each represented by a layer in the button set), but you can change those three colors and their visibility for each state in the color set. (DVD regulations allow only a limited bandwidth for button subpictures and subtitles.)

    Think of the subpicture as a paint-by-number image, with areas designated for colors 1, 2, or 3. The color set is the color key that determines what colors (if any) are used for colors 1, 2, and 3. In addition, all three colors can have different definitions and opacity settings in each button state. By varying the color definitions for each state, you can change the colors of each area; by varying the opacity of the colors in each state, you control whether or not that area is even visible in a particular state.

    You build the image used for the subpicture by creating separate layers for each color. The layer names must include the following prefixes: (=1) for areas using color 1, (=2) for areas using color 2, and (=3) for areas using color 3.

    Relationship between subpicture layers in button set and color set definitions

Guidelines for creating subpictures

Keep in mind the following guidelines as you create the subpicture layers:

Same overlay used for all states

The same image or overlay is used for all three states of a button (normal, selected, and activated).

Layers flattened into single overlay

The subpicture layers you create are flattened into a single image in the build process.

Top layer wins

If subpicture layers in a button layer set overlap, the top layer takes precedence when the layers are flattened into the final overlay.

Layers part of button layer set

The subpicture layers for a button must be contained within that button’s layer set.

Solid colors only

Elements on these layers must use solid colors and sharp edges. Use one solid color per layer. Do not use gradients, feathering, or anti-aliasing on the subpicture layers. Color gradations are not possible in subpictures.

Color definitions control look in button states

Although you create layers for each color, the color numbers (1, 2, or 3), not the color values you used, are stored in the overlay. The color set is the color key or index, and contains the color values. (As mentioned below, Encore will automatically generate a color set based on the color in each layer.)

Layer visibility controlled in color set

You use the opacity setting in the color set to control the visibility of elements in each state. You do not use the Eye icon  in the Layers panel in Photoshop.

Different color definitions for each state

Colors are defined in the Encore Menu Color Set dialog box. For each color, you can specify a different color and opacity setting. By varying the colors and their opacity in each state, the highlighting can look quite different, even though it uses the same overlay. For example, color 1 might be transparent for the normal state (opacity set to zero), red for the selected state, and blue for the activated state. So all elements on layers with the (=1) prefix would not appear in the normal state, would be red in the selected state, and blue in the activated state.

Automatic color set generated from layers

While the colors you use in the layers do not become part of the actual subpicture overlay, Encore does create a color set based on those values. By applying the colors you want for the selected state of the button to the three layers, you are able to design the highlight color in Photoshop and save time editing the color set in Encore.

Layers represent areas of color, not states

It is important to understand that the subpicture layers represent color areas that correspond to the color set. They do not represent the activation states of the button.

Therefore, while the same subpicture overlay is used for each state, you can vary which elements in the subpicture are visible by changing the opacity and color definitions in each state.

Create a subpicture in Photoshop

  1. In either the Project or Menus panel, select the menu containing buttons that need subpictures.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Menu In Photoshop or click the Edit Menu In Photoshop tool  in the Tools panel.

    Photoshop starts, displaying the selected menu.

  3. In the Photoshop Layers panel, select the button layer set for which you want to create a subpicture.

  4. Create a new layer and add the prefix (=1) to the beginning of the name.

    On this layer, create the subpicture elements that you want displayed using color 1. Elements should consist of a single, solid color, without gradients, feathering, or anti-aliasing. Remember that you can control the visibility of these elements in each state in the color set. If necessary, you can create more that one layer for this color (for example, if you want text and a button outline in this color). Each layer for this color should have the same prefix.


    Set the color and opacity of all elements on the layer as you want the layer to appear in the selected state. (All items should use the same values.) When you import the menu, Encore automatically generates a color set using this color definition and opacity value for the selected and activated state.

  5. If you want a multicolored subpicture, repeat steps 3 and 4 for colors 2 and 3, using the layer-name prefixes (=2) for color 2 and (=3) for color 3.

  6. If you want to create subpictures for another button, repeat steps 3 through 5.

  7. In Photoshop, choose File > Save, and then File > Close.

    Photoshop saves the file to the project folder. It does not overwrite the original file that you imported into your project.


    When you import a menu into Encore, it creates a copy of the menu. The Edit In Photoshop command opens this copy, not the original file. Photoshop saves any changes to the copy. If you want to update the original as well, it is important to first save the copy so that your project contains the revised menu. Once saved, you can also save the changes to the original file using the File > Save As command in Photoshop or the Menu > Save Menu As File command in Encore.

  8. Define the colors and opacity values used in each button state, and assign a highlight group to each button as desired.


You can let Encore automatically generate a subpicture for the text of a button. The advantage of using this button property is that it regenerates the subpicture for you if you edit the text. See Update subpicture text automatically.

View subpictures

You can view the subpictures in the Menu Viewer in each of the button states. These views show the subpictures of all the buttons at the same time using the menu’s assigned color set and each button’s Highlight group. To preview the subpictures with the mouse or a simulated remote control, see Preview a project.

  1. Open the menu that you want to preview.

  2. At the bottom of the Menu Viewer, click one of the following buttons to see the subpictures of all the buttons for a particular state:

     Shows the button subpictures using the Normal color settings from the color set.

     Shows the button subpictures using the Selected color settings from the color set.

     Shows the button subpictures using the Activated color settings from the color set.


To improve menu display performance, turn off the subpicture views when you’re finished viewing subpictures.

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