The Joy of Steam's Grid View
I made several for this game... and I don't even own it yet.
*UPDATE* 7/25/15 - I now have my own website for these: Jinx's Steam Grid View Images.
For years I neglected the "grid" view in Steam � I preferred the "detail" view because it seemed easier to navigate. Last winter, though, I decided to try the grid view as a way to limit what games I had in front of me at any given time so I could focus on finishing them. The easiest way to do this is just to create a set of Favorites and switch to grid view. You can also select to show any category in grid view now, which is a huge improvement � it used to just be "all" or "favorites".
Grid view is easy to tweak in terms of scaling the tiles to show more or fewer games at once, and you can easily toggle between grid, detail, and list view as needed (all in the upper right hand corner). Part of the reason I'd avoided grid view before was because I felt it didn't show enough games on screen at once. But even at a medium sized scale it shows a lot more games than the "list" view, though not as many as the "detail" view. So you actually aren't giving up much.
When I got in on the Survarium beta the first thing I did was add it to Steam.
What are you gaining? Well, for one you're actually using most of your screen, rather than having 80% of it basically blank while you squint at a tiny list over on the far left. Second, you are getting a way to really appreciate your library visually. Having your games in grid view is the virtual equivalent of having them on your shelf � except it's prettier because it's like having all the box art facing out.
Well, in theory it's prettier. The problem is that some Steam games have mediocre images for the tile view. Moreover, any non-Steam games or emulators you add to your library will not have an image at all and just show the icon instead. You should also know that these are the same images that get displayed in Big Picture Mode. If you are using that interface, replacing ugly or broken images is especially important.
Making images for NES games is tough because all the box art is vertical.
Luckily there are a few sites like the Steam Banners Booru which have custom grid images uploaded and cataloged. If a game has a poor or missing image in Steam you will probably find one, and maybe some neat alternates to use as well. Even if the default image for a game is nice, I may change it out sometimes to keep my library looking fresh. You can also upload your own custom images to that site, which is what I do with mine. And that, of course, is the other option � simply make your own images!
Making Custom Images for Grid View
Original image from the art book. Crop, add logo, pow you're done.
The key to making custom images is finding good art to work with. This can be difficult because the art for most games was designed for vertical boxes, making is awkward to use in a horizontal layout. I typically use Google Image Search to find images to use, just downloading anything potentially useful into a folder to tinker with later. In addition to the game's name, you may also want to add in keywords such as:
"steam grid image" or "steam banner" - Hey, someone else may have already made one that's good! You might also limit your search to 460x215px images under advanced options (the size of grid images).
"box art" - This can narrow it down a bit, getting you more art and less screenshots.
"art" - Sometimes you can find stand-alone versions of the box art (no logos etc) uploaded by fans or the artists themselves. Invaluable and very cool if you are a fan.
"logo" - Finding a stand-alone version of a game's logo is great, because it gives you far more layout options. It also saves the grueling work of cutting a logo out of the box art. You can often find .png files that already have a transparent background � those are very useful!
"manual" � Sometimes scans of game manuals have different art, or the box art without logos etc. plastered all over it.
"wallpaper" � Both official and fan wallpapers can be a good resource, especially since wallpapers are often in a letterboxed layout. You might just need to resize and crop it to make a tile!
"arcade" or "cabinet" � If it is an arcade game, or a port of one, sometimes the original cabinet art can be a great way to go.
Screenshots can be another source of imagery � either online, or from your own collection. For Saint's Row: The Third I took a screenshot of my custom character, then cropped it and added the logo. And my current Skyrim image is from a screenshot I took in my (modded) game.
This was made from one of my favorite screenshots.
I would like to make a more detailed tutorial, but that's difficult because everyone uses different image software � and it would require a crash course in image editing. I use an ancient copy of Photoshop 7, but GIMP (link) should provide everything you need. If you have some experience with basic image editing, it shouldn't be too hard to pick up. A few basic things you need to know:
* Grid Images are 460x215, though larger variants (same aspect ratio) of that seem to work.
* You can use .jpg or .png format. I suggest .png as you don't lose quality that way.
* Try to find a .png version of the game logo with a transparency. It increases your options because you can paste it on any artwork as a layer and arrange it as you like.
* To make a logo/text stand out, try using "outer glow"� but instead of a white glow, set it to "normal" render mode and use black. This can help the text stay visible by darkening the background around it, and is a lot more subtle than a bright glow.
Even if you don't have much image editing experience, you can sometimes just take a wallpaper and resize/crop it � not too hard to do in GIMP.
Enjoy That Library
A sample from my library with a lot of my custom images.
Overall, Grid View can be a great way of both browsing and displaying your PC game library. Custom images are crucial to keeping things looking nice, though especially if you add your non-Steam games like I do. So once you've weeded out the duds into the new "Hidden" category, run through your library to add or update your images and make your library look the best it can.
One last thing � I love making these, so if you have some you can't find on the Steam Banners Booru, let me know in the comments and I'll try to make one for you!
In case you're playing the pre-alpha of the new Unreal Tournament...