How To Design A Killer iPhone and iPad Wallpapers
So, you want to make a great iPhone wallpaper?
...Awesome! But there are a few things you should know first.
Lesson #1: Dimensions. An iPhone wallpaper should be 640 pixels wide by 960 pixels tall. Why so big? Because the iPhone's screen is super high resolution. This means it can display a giant image in a small space and have it look really crisp.
Lesson #2: Lock vs. Home Screens. Your wallpaper will be displayed in one of two places on a person's phone. Their lock screen or their home screen. A person's lock screen is the "welcome" screen they see when they turn on their iPhone, before they "unlock" it. Their "home" screen has all their app icons on it. It's important to design for one of these views, as different parts of the wallpaper will be viewable. See below!
Lesson #3: Making Sets! While you can choose to only make a lock-screen or home-screen version of your wallpaper, you can also make a complete set! That way someone can have two different versions of the same wallpaper, on each part of their phone.
Lesson #4: Template Time! To help you make better iPhone wallpapers, we put together two design templates you can work from. Simply download them and place them as layers in front of the backgrounds you're making. This will ensure you put everything in the right place. Grab them right below (they're also actual size).
Lesson #5: Advanced Wallpapers. Some people have taken home screen wallpapers to the next level by creatively designing around people's app icons (e.g. designing shelves that the icons rest upon). This is a difficult exercise, but can lead to brilliant results like the one below. Note: Advanced wallpapers are recommended for people who own iPhones or iPod Touches, so they can constantly test their design on their own devices first.
Now that you've mastered the art of making iPhone wallpapers, what about the iPad? While it's kind of similar, it's also different in important ways.
Lesson #1: Dimensions. The iPad is unique because you can view the lock and home screens both vertically (1536x2048) and horizontally (2048x1536). So does that mean you have to design two wallpapers?
Apple made it so that if you design one big square wallpaper (2048x2048) it'll use that for both views, with automatic cropping. Here's a rough image to help you understand how it works:
Lesson #2: Hot Spots. Because parts of your wallpaper are automatically hidden/cropped out depending on whether the user is holding their iPad vertically or horizontally, you should always put the important stuff toward the middle.
We created handy templates to use for both the home and lock screens. Here's how they work:
(1) Red means always hidden. Anything you put in the red corner boxes won't appear on anyone's iPad, ever. You could put anything you like there because no one will ever see it (except for when they're browsing them on this site).
(2) Dark green means partially visible/sometimes visible. It's important to design in the dark green areas but keep in mind that they'll only sometimes display or will be partially covered up.
(3) Light green means GO! Always put the most important parts of your wallpaper in the light green area. This includes text/main character images/etc.
Download these images to your computer to use as reference templates. You can sit them above your wallpapers and change the transparencies to make sure everything is positioned correctly. While they appear smaller than normal here, when you open them on your computer they'll be actual size.
Lesson #3: Lock vs. Home Screens. You can tell from the templates above that because the iPad is much bigger than the iPhone, the difference between lock screens and home screens is more subtle. This means that while you still can optimize for one or the other, it's not as big a deal if you don't. Just stick to the light green spots.