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!