Introduction: How to Turn Your Computer's LCD Screen Transparent (DIY Mod)

Picture of How to Turn Your Computer's LCD Screen Transparent (DIY Mod)

If you have a standard LCD type monitor, I will show you a cool little DIY hack to turn that baby transparent!

A few tools are required, if you are a hard-core IT geek you probably have them, if you are a regular joe like me you just need to track down a hard-core IT geek.

Recommended equipment:

1) Non-parsing decrunculation chamber ($28)
2) Anti-aliasing RAM extractor ($38)
3) LCD RAM zapper with DVI to coax connector on the female end ($4288 with connector, $3942 w/o)
4) Annoy-a-tron from ($10)
5) Roll of duct tape and a cotton swab ($3, $.005)

If you have a hard time finding this stuff on the internet, as an alternative you can also use:

1) a digital camera
2) a simple image editing program

Step 1: Prepare the Scene/set Dressing

Picture of Prepare the Scene/set Dressing

Basically all you do is change the desktop picture on your computer screen to match what is behind it. It sounds simple, and in theory it is, but in practice it is actually a little bit tricky. But fear not, brave grasshopper, I have taken time away from my family to create this butt-kickin' instructable to share some pointers with you, with absolutely no hope of getting anything back in return! (Well, a pimped out laser cutter would be nice :-))

The first step is to place some objects around your display screen so they are partly obscured by it. This will help to sell the illusion.

The next thing you have to do is choose where in your room you want the monitor to appear transparent from. In other words, which one vantage point in space do you want the illusion to hold up? Do you want it to be right in front of the computer, so anyone using it gets to enjoy your hard work? Do you want it to be at eye-level if someone peeks over the cubicle partition to see what you are working on? Do you want it to be from the eye level of your 6 year-old so if he stands in the doorway he "gets it?"

For this instructable, I chose a nice "standard working distance" away from my computer so I could enjoy the view myself.

When you know which vantage point you are going to target, "dress the set" with the items you have gathered to sell your illusion.

Step 2: Principal Photography

Picture of Principal Photography

Remove your display, being careful not to disturb other items in the background.

Take many photographs from your chosen vantage point (or slightly back from). Do not use flash, and take many many pictures with different settings. I like to go into manual mode and use different f-stops on my PowerShot and different exposure lengths. Bracketing, to use a photographic term, is a good idea.

Also, don't take a picture of just the area the screen occupied. Use a very hi-res setting on a digital camera and take larger pictures that you can crop down.

The pictures below show the differences that different exposure settings can have on your picture.

Step 3: Put Your Monitor Back

Picture of Put Your Monitor Back

Do you really need a picture?

Step 4: Tweak, Test, Crop and Repeat

Picture of Tweak, Test, Crop and Repeat

Here is where the work comes in.

Pull up your pictures in your image editor (iPhoto is great for this) and look at them one at a time and see which ones are closest to how it should look.

Make adjustments to brightness, contrast, exposure, temperature, and saturation. When you finally get the colors and appearances correct, go to your desktop picture control panel and use the best picture.

Now comes the cropping cycle.

You want all of your lines to "line up" when viewed from your chosen point in space. So crop it down, set it as your desktop picture, and if things don't line up then either move the objects themselves, or crop your picture more, or a combination of both.

Hint: crop in baby steps. Once you over-crop, you have to start all over again with the original images, or choose a new vantage point in space that works better.

If something looks "too skinny" on your monitor compared to the background object, you need to crop the sides. If something looks "too short" on your display compared to the background object, you need to crop the top and bottom.

Step 5: Bask in Transparent LCD Glory

Picture of Bask in Transparent LCD Glory
Congratulations! You did it, now take some pics of the end results from your chosen vantage point and when you do email them as attachments to my auto-posting public blog at: If you want to see my public blog can be seen here

Also, I just was given this link by a friend, here is a flickr pool of pictures of other people's transparent screens:

Thanks for reading my instructable and be sure to watch my YouTube video I made of this illusion!


K K K (author)2017-04-29

is it possible to use android phone screen?

frosty1433 (author)2007-12-07

someday I will invent a monitor that goes clear when the screen should be black (like a window), and is solid when on. that would own all of the wires you moved in the back.

lolcat360 (author)frosty14332009-08-21


some lcd can do that i know that there is a car like that when the sunroof is of it is dark but as soon as you click on it goes clear

actualy almost all can do it but you wont have a backlight which makes using it difficult. lcd is a liquid crystal display that changes color based on the currrent going through it so yea its posible the liquid crystals are inside a plastic like case i dont know if the back of it is clear and i dont recomend doing it

Once my lcd screen of my n95 was broken, so i disassembled it, and i found in the back side a white plastic, then between the glass and the plastic there is many sheets topped with aluminuim (i think because it looked like that!), and a tiny paper was directly stuck to the glass from it's black side( of the paper) !!!

mikkelbg (author)2009-07-04

If its just for the photo then it would probably be easier to use a green-screen :)

RetroTechno (author)2009-03-06

That's creative -- but very silly. :-)

title1pro (author)2009-02-12

nice walpaper

punkatsub (author)2009-02-11

you could put the brightness down to look even more realisitic

disturbedreaper (author)2009-01-20

ill do this on my laptop oh no i need to redo it at scooh ah somone waled behind it its all ruined like the ible though

disturbedreaper (author)2009-01-20

i like ur old backround its a nice apple bottom lolz lolz

PetervG (author)2007-05-13

:D I tried it. Hard to get the sizing right.

zoolions (author)PetervG2009-01-17

i have that poster behind my computer 2! :D yay 4 good games

thesparine (author)PetervG2007-05-16

Is that a lightsaber on your desk?

bug on fire (author)thesparine2008-12-29

lol nice spotting and may the force be with you

PetervG (author)thesparine2007-05-16

LOL, its a tripod.

thesparine (author)PetervG2007-05-31

That is one kick-ass tripod! I think I am going to get it. I like to take pictures at night and unless I have a tripod with me they always come out blurry... : - ( Can you please share the name/manufacturer of that tripod? Or where I could get one? Thanks PetervG!

PetervG (author)thesparine2007-05-31

Don't get it, rather, get a nice one like this:

I have a nice one too.

The smaller one in that picture is pretty bad, hard to change the angle without ruining the.. hard to explain.

It's from The Source, Nexxtech.

littlechef37 (author)PetervG2008-05-22


thesparine (author)PetervG2007-05-14

Looks great! The only thing I would suggest, is to recrop your picture so you shave off a little from the top or the bottom. See in the left picture how the bottom of the map on the wall is lower than the bottom of the map on your monitor? This is a clue telling you you need to stretch that image vertically, and by cropping a bit off the top or bottom it will line up better. But even without this, it still looks good. Plus, who's to say that when light travels through a transparent monitor that it doesn't get refracted a bit, anyways?

DannyboyINXS (author)2008-06-04

yeah, i tried this once, and found it quite difficult to get the sizing right.... like the comment below me.... but i noticed that the guy who posted the comment below mine has VLC media player, which is a very handy tool instead of doing this, if you really want to go one step further, plug a camera, or video camcorder, into your tv tuner card (granted you have one), turn on the camera into capture mode, and open up the capture device via VLC media player You should now see your camera's view inside the VLC window.... now all you have to do is right click on the video and click "set as wallpaper" or something along those lines.... now position the camera behind the monitor, and you should have a real time transparent screen based on video. the picture version is still quite good seeing you cant leave your camera on all the time *i figured batteries can go flat :(

MAF JR (author)2008-04-01

you needed to move the soda can over to the left just a lil bit more but good work

TheMadScientist (author)2007-12-09

instead of "faking" it, you could actually remove the backlight, and replace it with a matrix of LEDs for an actually almost completely clear screen

Xellers (author)2007-12-02

is it possible to mount a webcam at a strategic point and then send the data to your monitor so the background would be in real time?

zachninme (author)2007-05-09

I thought you were going to remove the backing to it to see through it :P Thats plausible, but you'd have monitor guts behind it, and would only work with LCD's. You can make a projector by doing this and shining a strong light behind it (along with some lens work)

ElFantastic0 (author)zachninme2007-07-07

people do that for the LCD projectors, but i just took apart a monochrome laptop screen module, cut a hole in the back of the lid and set it on top of an overhead projector.

I also do that for backlighting small alphanumeric displays such as:

bobulator (author)ElFantastic02007-11-18

Yeah, my dad did that, we were watching movies on the side of my house! You can just take the whole plastic casing off to make a projector though.

krazy (author)2007-05-10

this looks pretty cool... but the natural light that comes in my computer room wouldnt allow me to do this... the brightness would never be the same. i doubt he got any emails because in his video he moved the camera too much and you can actually tell its a pic on desktop... the plaque get WAY outta wack

thesparine (author)krazy2007-05-10

There is no lighting situation that this won't work in. Need proof? Check out these hundreds of photos with every conceivable lighting situation:

krazy (author)thesparine2007-05-10

well of course it will work for that one time... but i wouldnt be able to leave it and it still look the same.

thesparine (author)krazy2007-05-16

boy, you want it all, don't you?

krazy (author)thesparine2007-05-16

no all i am saying is it would work great in a room with controlled lighting. Just like the room you have. Now if i took my computer back to my bedroom i am sure it would work great. but in my living room where i sit with my laptop all the time it wouldnt work because the lighting is always changing and it would change the shadows. i wasnt trying to put your work down i was just saying that it doesnt always work. i mean congrats on doing this. and making the instructable. anyways keep up the good job.

thesparine (author)krazy2007-05-31

My previous comment was toungue-in-cheek with a smile... : -) hope you didn't think I was on the defensive... You are right, in shifting lighting situations your only option would be to get several pictures so you can change the desktop image according to what time of day it is, or just make one for the time of day when you want to show it off to a visitor.... Take care and thanks for the positive feedback.

Toulouse (author)krazy2007-05-20

haha, yes it probably will not work if you move your computer alot. I might try this though

Jasko Bartnik (author)2007-05-21

When did you first done one (the transparent LCD)? Mine is from October:
It's not as good as yours but it's an earlier model... i think :)

PKM (author)2007-05-12

I'm with zachninme, I thought this was going to be a "take the back off your LCD monitor and light it from behind to get a transparent screen" hack.. but this is fun and a lot less effort :) I'd still like to see an actual transparent monitor, though...

PetervG (author)2007-05-09

1: It's not transparent, but okay... 2: The ending of your video, a card trick?

TheCheese9921 (author)PetervG2007-05-09

yea I saw that too neat idea though

i make shooting things (author)2007-05-09

Repost? i remember seeing this some where, Dejavo i gess

mdmoose29 (author)2007-05-09

ok.. so obviously every one thats posted already is pretty much a deutsche bag. great implementation and a pretty kick ass vid to go along. i dont think a lot of people got the joke.. oh well, it still was funny

thesparine (author)mdmoose292007-05-09

a German bag? Nicht wahr? Das ist richtig, mein Freund! Danke schon!

ich bin ein pyro (author)2007-05-09

its not transperant its see-through because it look like your "seeing-through" the desktop but anyway it looks awsome i wanna do this with my home computer

rocketbat (author)2007-05-09

nice idea + good instructable! why would you need the anoyatron? ;-) p.s. has anyone actualy E-maild you for one of the screens?

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More by thesparine:How to TURBO-CHARGE your memory, so you can easily remember ANY NUMBERHow to take AWESOME night photos WITHOUT a tripodHow to turn your computer's LCD screen transparent (DIY mod)
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