Introduction to Shell Bitmaps
Path: Fleet Operations\Data\bitmaps
Bitmaps are used for a variety of purposes in Fleet Operations including non-game menus (shell), admiral's log images, and various buttons. When it comes to modding, they are also one of the easiest things to change.
If you want to modify the menu, all you need is a good picture editor. The most well known program is Photoshop, but if you want something for free, it is suggested that you use Sun Microsystems’s GIMP listed in the modding resources. It is free, and relatively easy to use. Since editing pictures isn't really part of modding, it will not be discussed here. Instead an example of what Adm. Zaxxon has created will be shown, which in turn might give you some ideas of your own.
These are the main and instant action backgrounds ingame.
Fleet Operations supports Bitmaps in two formats: BMP and PNG. Both formats are lossless formats. PNG support was introduced with Fleet Operations. PNG files have the advantage of being significantly smaller in file size than BMP files without any loss in image quality. Therefore it is recommended to make use of this format for the menu bitmaps.
If a BMP and PNG file for the same menu item exist in the same directory - for example mainbkgr.bmp and mainbkgr.png - the PNG file will be loaded while the BMP file is ignored. The BMP file will only be loaded if a PNG equivalent does not exist. Support for BMP files is kept for backward compatibility with Stock Armada II.
Original (mainbkgr.png found at - Path: Fleet Operations\Data\bitmaps\main)
Modded Version (an in-game screenshot with a transparent layer and a logo…that’s it)
Below is the instant action version. (instactionbkg.bmp found at - Path: Fleet Operations\Data\bitmaps\multisetup)
Modded (transparent layer over menu picture. Frames and boxes copied from original, lower left picture taken by forum member)