Photoshop CS5: Quick Tips to Improve Your Desktop Wallpaper Design


This video tutorial covers quick tips and design principles in order to take your desktop wallpaper beyond run-of-the-mill type of desktop backgrounds.  While the design of your personal desktop wallpaper won’t matter to most people (since your the only one who sees it), that whole concept changes when you decide to provide screencasts from your desktop.

The desktop wallpaper can serve as an additional image to promote your business or offer.  Whether you do it yourself, or have someone create a custom design for you. It still is a good idea to put this on your to-do list as another way to subtly market your small business.  I’m not suggesting blatant advertising here; however, subtle design changes can make the difference in promoting your small business or brand.

To get you started with some inspiration, you might like to view the free wallpapers available at  Wallpaper Abyss. This website includes the color palette of the wallpaper you choose and makes it available in Widescreen 16:10, Fullscreen 4:3, Fullscreen 5:4, Mobile, Android, Apple, Avatar and Dual Monitors. When it comes to the smaller sizes the site features  a cropping tool that allows you to get the best image.  Now, if video games are more your taste you might like Video Game Wallpaper or if Vector Illustrations are your style try 20+ Free Character Illustration Wallpapers.




Hello, today we are going to talk a little about doing something about your wallpaper or desktop background. A lot of times people will inevitably leave it alone or use the ones that are provided by your computer or the company that is making the computer and that’s pretty much where you stay or you stop.  But, I find that a lot more people are finding it a lot more advantageous to actually try to get their message across or even just personalize what they are all about . Whether it’s your company or whether it’s what you do or personally your own work as a graphic designer perhaps or even a nurse!.  Whatever your occupation might be.  So having something personalized on your computer kind of tells the outside viewer a little bit more about you than what is usually provided via your computer desktop.

I’m going to show you  little of what the company usually provides you when you are working with something provided to you as a background.  Here we have an abstract image. You know it’s a pretty good thing to add to your computer, it’s kind of cool, but is that what you want?  Here’s another, another and another.  Is that really you?

Now here’s two that I particularly like, and the reason I like them is because as a graphic designer it’s always good to have your background sort of in a neutral color so that you won’t have your background interfere with the colors that you are working with.  So, grey is predominately the colors you will be wanting to use in the background. Of course depending on who you are and how you think, whether it is distracting to you or not, the choice is subjective. But that is the general rule of thumb.  If you are a graphic designer, it helps to have a background in a neutral color. Here’s a nice one.  This is what’s provided.  I’m not sure if any of them are really saying anything about who you are. The black and white ones are really cool.  I particularly like this one myself.


And have used it as a background.  Here is a nice grey one for those graphic designers who feel obligated to use it because it helps them with color selection.  The same applies for these black and white photographs.  I’m going to move away from this and go straight ahead to what I did for myself to give you an idea for what you can do for yourself.  Here I am going to bring up a Photoshop image that I set up to make up my wallpaper or desktop background.  If you look over here at the layer section, you could see that all the areas are in layers and here’s the majority of the background.  Here  you see the movie theatre and the middle section has been greyed out so that I can place an image in there.  And being a sci-fi person, I placed a kind of other-worldly image there and then I proceeded to do the titling of my company.  And, it kind of implies something big is coming.  You know, sort of like the intros you see in most movies that you see out in the theater.  So anyway, you can actually do whatever you want as far as making your own personalized background.

You can take a photograph of anything that’s important to you and pretty much use that as your own background.  You can personalize it with your own typeface [font]. Or even, of course, what you want said on it.  It’s just a matter of knowing a couple of things and that’s what I’ll be discussing right now so that you can get started if you actually want to change your background and personalize it for yourself.


One of the things that is important is the image size, so we’ll check that out right now.  Notice that the pixel size is a whopping 2560 by 1680, if you look at it in inches it is 35″ by 22″.  And it’s at 72 resolution and a 11.7 MB file size for this image.  It is kind of big for what is really needed but then the reason why you might want to keep those numbers and work with them is because those numbers represent the highest possible work environment where resolution stays pretty well intact.  There’s no loss of sharpness and color resolution.  So, you want to stay within that area as much as you can.

Once you have taken your image and you have started out by making these parameters by the size, you are going to have an aspect ratio that is pretty much what is needed for most computers.  That aspect ratio if you notice is 35 by 22 and if you reduced it down or scaled it down.  It’s going to stay pretty much the same.  It’s kind of longer by the width than it does by the heigth.  It’s got pretty much the needed ratio for most computers, and I think you’ll do fine if you work with those numbers.  So we’ll go ahead and get out of here.


So, the next step is once you have all your images together on your layers, you can go ahead and flatten the image.  That makes it into one image then you can go ahead and “Save” it.  You can actually go to “Save for web and device”, ( I’m using Photoshop CS5 by the way) your option might read differently in earlier versions.  But, you can go ahead and “Save for Web” or you can use “Save As”  jpeg.  I’ll do that because most people may or may not be working with Photoshop.  But if you are working with other software, the principle still applies, you are going to have a background, you are going to manipulate it if you want to, change colors and do whatever you find is artistic or valid and then add titling so that you are in that area of creativity.

Okay, so I am going to save it as a jpeg and I’m going to move it to my desktop. Go ahead and say save here, give it a large file. And if I were to bring it up, you can see that it has actually saved it in a pretty good resolution and I would go ahead and put it in my folder where all your backgrounds are.  I’ll go and shows where that folder is…you actually, go to your hard drive (in a MAC) and you go to your library.  I believe it’s there…let me see…Hmmm, maybe it’s not there?  I don’t want to steer you wrong.  Go to System, Library….Well, I’ll tell you what…I’m going to look for it because I got stumped here.


I’m going to look for it, I’m going to go to “Preferences” and in the “Preferences” you’ll see desktop and screensaver option (this is a MAC by the way).  I understand that for PCs if you just right-click, it’ll give you a drop-down menu and you can just select the option “Set As Background” or desktop wallpaper, something to that effect. And you are actually there faster.  These are where the pictures go this file, it looks like it’s under Apple and as you can see here, the picture is already there.  So, it’s in that folder so that you can make the decision to say, that’s the one I want to use and you can just select it and you have it as your background from hereon until you decide to change it.

Anyway, I hope this helps…at least to get you motivated to want to change it if you are so inclined.  I think that it does give your computer desktop a lot more personality once you have created one for yourself.  So, have fun with this technique, if there are any questions about anything regarding this particular lesson. Leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer it as thoroughly as I can. Thank you again for joining me, and we’ll see you again next time.  Bye.

Related Post:

How to Use Screencasting Software to Create Your Marketing Video

About richmediadp

I'm a freelance graphic designer working out of Orange County, CA - USA. I work with small and mid sized companies to develop creative solutions for their design problems from print collateral to online graphics.

Posted on August 5, 2011, in Screencasts, Video Marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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