DIY: Make your own desktop wallpaper

What is your current desktop wallpaper? Mine used to be whatever cool picture of people, flowers or animals (mainly cats) I recently took but I decided that since I spend so many hours a day looking at my desktop screen, a little more thought should go into my choice. So I went on a hunt for original desktop wallpapers but I simply couldn’t find any that I really, really like AND that are free. There is always some small detail that just isn’t quite right, usually a cheesy quote or a less-than-ideal colour scheme. To cut a long story short, I decided to become good at making my own desktop wallpapers :) I have quite a long list of ideas that I want to try out at some point, including purely graphic-based designs, but I thought I’d first dive into my craft supplies, style a pretty “texture” on a canvas and photograph it. Read on for a quick tutorial:

Create a texture
First, choose a canvas for your wallpaper, for example coloured paper, fabric, concrete or wood. If you can’t find a canvas with the perfect colour, mix up some paints and paint a white piece of paper. For decorating, sequins, beads and glitter are a good place to start, but you can pretty much use anything from fabrics to small objects like leaves, gummy bears, sea shells, feathers… The only thing to consider is how strong your camera’s resolution is because the picture you take will be stretched to fill your screen and macro shots of smaller objects might turn out a little blurry on your screen unless they have a very high resolution. Take pictures in the largest size your camera is capable of shooting and, if you can, in a RAW format. Alternatively, try to use a larger canvas if you are decorating with small objects like beads, so you can take the picture from further away. Go as minimalistic or colourful as you like, but make sure that your overall image isn’t too ‘busy’, you still want to be able to see your desktop icons (onsider leaving at least one quarter of the picture plain).

Experiment with lighting and angles
If you want to use lighting effects to amp up your texture, try to find natural light sources. I photographed my canvas in front of a small window so the sequins would be partially lit from behind. Angle-wise, you can’t go wrong with a standard bird’s eye view pic, but also experiment with other perspectives. If your camera allows you to adjust the focus, try a couple of shots with a defined focus in the middle/front, then a couple with a larger depth of field to give you lots of options to choose from at the editing stage. Remember to avoid macro shots unless your camera has a very high resolution.
Editing
Now comes the fun part (at least for me :)): Use any photo editing software to quickly polish your pictures and create just the look you were going for. If you have photoshop you can completely transform your image, add lighting effects, change the colour scheme, blur or sharpen sections, but even a few basic touch ups like adjusting the contrast, brightness or hue can give your photo a bit of extra oomph. I used Photoshop Elements to up the contrast, decrease overall saturation and increase and darken the blue tones. Also, consider adding text: inspirational quotes or lyrics in a pretty font on a plain canvas can be a nice, calming combination – perfect for a desktop wallpaper :)

What is your current desktop wallpaper? Tell me in the comments!

 

35 thoughts on “DIY: Make your own desktop wallpaper

  1. Very creative, hadn’t thought of crafting an analogue desktop. However there are plenty of free alternatives to Photoshop / Elements out there, so thought I would share :)

    GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – very capable, but not the most initially user friendly program
    Paint.NET (for Windows only) – will very likely do what is needed and more intuative than GIMP
    Seashore (for Mac only) – good program, like Paint.NET but for the MAC

  2. This idea is definitely new =) I usually have a car as my desktop wallpaper (I bring them from netcarshow.com) but sometimes I write quotes on a black background (using MS Paint, mind you). . . But I love your idea! ^_^

  3. wooww!! this is soo cool.. i’m always searching for awesome desktop backgrounds but never really find anything i like. This is awesome. Im going to try it.. :-D

  4. Wow :) This is a great idea. I usually get my wallpapers from the Nat Geo website (now mine’s a picture of the titanic wreck under the sea). But this seems like an awesome idea. Congrats on freshly pressed :)

  5. great idea! I hadn’t thought of photographing crafting supplies; I currently use one of my photos as wallpaper – both on my laptop and my work computer. Love doing something different with it besides the stuff that comes with the computer.

  6. This is SOOOO brilliant!! Ive never even considered doing something like this and I have so many sequins and glittery doo-dads and satin bows and ribbons I could do something creative with! Eeep, I am inspired!! :D

  7. Hahah that’s a great idea! I thought it’d be just the usual photograph tweaking, but the idea of physically composing your wallpaper using real-world objects is great!

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