In this DIY, we marry analog and handmade concepts with new technology and materials. I usually roll my eyes at projects that lean too heavily on a service or prepackaged good, but I’m excited to share inspiring new tools and materials with loads of creative applications. Using my smartphone’s camera, I photographed a hand-drawn doodle and compositions of delicate flowers to make my own Custom Laptop Skin. Actually, it’s re-positionable wallpaper printed by Spoonflower, but it adheres well to any smooth surface so you can go crazy covering your walls, notebooks, phone and laptop.
Originally, I wanted to make a skin from a single image that spread across the laptop, but Spoonflower’s program is best designed for creating repeat patterns. You can use pre-existing images, but keep in mind that imagery that requires a fixed orientation, like a standard snapshot, might not work as well as a repeat pattern. Graphic imagery and patterns work best.
I visited my favorite flower shop in Brooklyn, Park Deli, who have the best funky, fun and colorful flowers. I played around arranging the flowers on paper and shot images with my phone. These images, which I link to in full resolution after the jump, were then turned into peel-and-stick wallpaper. The flowers made for interesting repeat pattern designs, and I loved the idea of my laptop having a softer edge. Don’t limit yourself to just flowers, though. Think of all the fun objects, sketches, and doodles that you can shoot and turn into your own custom peel-and-stick paper — the possibilities are truly endless. —Jessica
Here are the smartphone photographs I shot in full resolution (after some cropping) clockwise from the top left: one, two, three, four, and the doodle image here. Feel free to use them to make your own laptop skin, custom wallpaper or even a screen saver.
– Photo or drawing
– Large poster board paper
– White foam core (optional)
– Re-positionable wallpaper
Step 1: Compose a photo or create a drawing. I laid flowers on colored poster board and the drawing close to a window and used small panels of white foam core opposite of the window to help bounce light onto the subject. Even lighting is the goal, and bright window light is ideal. It’s softer than direct sunlight, which can have harsh shadows.
Step 2: Edit your image using your favorite editing app. I like Afterlight (.99) and Snapseed (free) for post-processing my smartphone pictures. For the image of the drawing, I converted the image to black and white by completely desaturating the image using the saturation tool and bumped the contrast all the way up so that it would look crisp and graphic. For the flower images, I kept the processing to a minimum, making minor tweaks to the contrast, saturation, and sharpening them a bit, too. I also cropped all the images to the edge of the colored backdrop.
Before – Straight from my phone After – Cropped, desaturated and contrast bumped up.
Step 3: Upload and order your image from Spoonflower. There are other places to print custom wallpaper, but I found Spoonflower to be the most economical. Choose Wallpaper > Peel and Stick (repositionable) Woven > Swatch (2’ x 1’). One swatch is enough to cover a 15” laptop with some leftover for another small object. Once you’ve uploaded your image, there are built-in options to play with to change the wallpaper’s appearance, like how the pattern repeats (basic, half-drop, half-brick and mirror) and the design size. I toggled through the options to see what worked best for each image.
Tip: On the left hand panel there’s an “Edit with PicMonkey” option where you can rotate your image, which is helpful to create an interesting repeat. Many of my images need to be rotated upside down to properly repeat, and I used this built-in feature to do it.
Step 4: Once you get your wallpaper, lay it flat and position your laptop where you’d like the image. Trace around your laptop and cut.
Step 5: It’s easy to apply, just peel and stick. It’s re-positionable, so if you need to adjust that’s easy to do. Peel one end of the paper, and working from the top corner to the bottom, stick the paper and smooth out any air pockets. Boom! You got a custom laptop skin with enough leftover to make a custom decal, or cover a small notebook.