Picture of Paint your Laptop - Project: Big Red
Have a new or old laptop? Tired of the way it looks? Wish you could do something to fix those yucky keys and scratches? Look no further!

In this fun-filled instructable, Gnaw will help ease those worries and uncertainties that you may face when expressing your inner-geek. You will unleash your creative and artistic skills as you learn and follow along with Gnaw and his new project, code-named: BIG RED

So, what you waiting for? Take the plunge, let’s get started!

*** Just wanted to squeeze in here a BIG thank you to westfw for sending me a spare key so I could complete my project. THANKS WESTFW! ***
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Step 1: Background Story

Picture of Background Story
Grandma gave her ungrateful grandchild (me) $25.00 for his birthday. I didn’t want to waste it on something stupid so I scoured eBay, craigslist etc. for a cheap/used laptop for a Linux box that I've been itching to build.

Behold! An IBM ThinkPad 385ED with a blazing-fast Intel Pentium MMX 166 MHz processor, 80MB RAM (upgraded), 12.1 inch 256 color LCD, 8X CD-ROM and a massive 2.1GB HD! The seller also threw in the bag, a mouse, modem, and Ethernet card for only $25.00!

Alright! Enough bragging, on with the show!

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wouldnt it have been easier to just put the stickers on first, primer, paint, remove the stickers, and put the gloss coat on?????
Its not so easy to use vinal decals as stencils, its best to use paper with a very low tac spray mount adhesive. The glue on vinal sticks to the surface to good.

When you use a stencil you want to remove it before the paint is totally dry so the edge of the paint rolls back before it sets rock hard, if you leave it until its totally dry you get a very jagged and visible edge to your stencil.  Its also better to completely paint a surface and then stencil your graphic.
Gnaw (author)  The_Black_Hole6 years ago
I think I understand your suggestion. Because the stickers were black, as was the original surface of the laptop, it would have been better to use them as a stencil, paint red, remove the template-sticker and then gloss coat? If that were the case, you would be absolutely correct! That would have been an excellent alternative-method. However, now that I've given it some thought; obviously this would only work for anything black. Seeing as how the majority of these stickers were of that shade it might have been worthwhile. However, there could also be potential draw-backs as well. The paint could seep under the template and as a result distort the intended shape. Also, removing the template might prove to be difficult as well, such that I may peal-off a section of paint if I wasn't careful. Thanks for your comment. An excellent, yet simple idea which I honestly never considered.
Dr Qui4 years ago
Nice job, I remember when these where cutting edge technology, one of the most horrid pieces of technology i ever had the displeasure of working on. One of the customers who had one of these referred to the red mouse button thingy as a clitoris ie "I know where it is, but I'm dammed if i can make it to work properly"

I love the groovy keyboard with the pacman keyboard.

I'm a big fan of uglification of tech, as opportunist scumbags don't tend to steal stuff that is so unique that it cant be sold on. 

My laptop started out with just the Clutch sticker to cover the Toshiba logo, then i just got carried away.
zeon4 years ago
ARGH!!! you killed it! :P
albhednomad5 years ago
that's pretty cool. I don't mean to post necro.

I had that exact same laptop. in fact, it was my first laptop. I ran a windows '98 SE. then it died on me.
weasel9995 years ago
i got a powerbook g3 for $20 on ebay when i looked it up its worth $100
(removed by author or community request)
Gnaw (author)  DELETED_Robert L6 years ago
Your welcome and thank you.
Hi, I really like this project, looks great. I do have 1 question on this step. So the order you do it in is: Print on the special paper Spray they with a clear coat ( any kind or is it special?) Wet them Cut and place on keys Is that correct?
Gnaw (author)  French t0ast6 years ago
That is correct.
red-king6 years ago
this would probbly void the waranty (what use is it anyway?)so im going to paint a big sticker and stick it on my alptop.
mptech6 years ago
Your work really inspired me. I have been looking for a way to customize the look of my laptop other than skins and stickers and I found your method to be the most creative. I am going to paint mine too. I'm gonna make mine with a super mario theme. Woohoo!
Gnaw (author)  mptech6 years ago
Thanks for the comment. A Mario-theme would be neat because there is so much material out there you could work with. Some advice, take your time... when things start to come together and take shape you are bound to get very excited and might rush things. Paint does not like to be rushed! Take pictures and post them when your finished! I look forward to seeing what you've envisioned.
namit7 years ago
Just painted my laptop but the paint is kind of coming off how do i stop this is there any way to seal in the paint to stop scratches and the like? Thanks
Gnaw (author)  namit6 years ago
I've heard of people using turtle wax
Try clear coat. You should be able to buy it from a hardware store.
hey, i love your template but when i save it, it reverts to times new roman... im assuming i dont have the font you used. what font is it?
Gnaw (author)  thingstealer7 years ago
Sorry, I was away for a few days. The font is called, 'Deanna'... I can't seem to remember if it came with ms office or if I downloaded it?
It must be downloaded; I just checked and I don't have it.
No offense, but that PC kind of sucks. What are you going to use it for?
Gnaw (author)  FreshPineSent6 years ago
- Currently being used to control my CNC machine.
Cracknel6 years ago
Why use stickers when you could paint the letters :)
Kitoru6 years ago
It might be preferable to use a small amount of Epoxy, or alternate adhesive on this step. Super Glue has a tenancy to dry hard, and not respond well to the bending of rubber. Although it should work well in the beginning, it might be overly brittle and resist wear poorly in the longer term.
tony stark6 years ago
whats primer, dude.
1true37 years ago
You could also do: primer, color #1, apply stickers, different color (#2), after drying remove stickers carefully with X-acto knife then apply clear finishing gloss.
skech1237 years ago
this tutorial is pretty freaking sweet man! Great job!
Gnaw (author)  skech1237 years ago
Thanks, let me know if have any questions about it.
DrthTater7 years ago
I probably would have gone with a more simplistic red/black theme, but kudos to you. I'll have to try this.
ffelix7 years ago
Lots of folks looking for used laptops... Most reasonably sized towns have a college or university of some kind. Also larger companies. These places generally have a regular replacement schedule for computer hardware. Check in with their "surplus" dept. or network admin. dept. to find out about when & how to buy their used stuff.
hck17 years ago
Kooool! Is the paint job OK even after a few months now? (I'ld like to do my notebook in gold, but the paint job must be rugged enough.) I had my Enter-Key painted with nail varnish and the top coat tured green and wore off after a time.
you could use high-durability latex base paint. but I dont know how hard it'd be to remove in small areas in case of a clogd vent or something like that.
Gnaw (author)  hck17 years ago
Well the paint has a few chips in areas where the laptop usually bumps into things but it seems to be holding up well. If you really wanted to protect your paint-job maybe try to find a spray-varnish or somthing you can coat in layers. Also, watch the areas that you paint, some of them may bind and rub against one-another. After some traveling time, if there are too many layers of paint these areas will chip or will be stripped of paint. Someone once mentioned somthing to me about vinyl dye, I haven't tried it yet, but it is susposed to stain the plastic within, instead of just the surface (paint). G'luck on yor project, let me know if you need help with anything.
Alexdc7 years ago
will the paint affect the heat dissapation characteristics of the laptop case?
Gnaw (author)  Alexdc7 years ago
To tell you the truth this thing runs just as warm as when I bought it. While I was painting I carefully made sure that I did not clog/plug and vents within the plastic case. I have run this mammoth for three days straight and the temperature of the laptop/case was what I expected. It did not melt, liquefy or bubble the paint in anyway. You have given be a great idea though... what if you painted it using some engine enamel? Some of that stuff has a heat rating of 400 -1800 degrees! ...and they come in HOT muscle car colours...
I might be buying a ibook g3 for under a hundred. The thing doesn't have a battery or a charger.
That's nice to know. Really.
bilox7 years ago
Hey dude, i like this JOB. i want my laptop painted too.
BUT i'm in France, and i have this laptop:

and i dont like this no-bright black.

i want it being bright. but i dont know who can do this here in France. help please!
robodud38 years ago
ok like i have looked 4ever 4 an old ibm laptop to put lunix on cuz evey1 knows how fun writing code is but my piont is WHERE DID U IND IT????? i reely want one and i think ill do this to it whene i get it but i cant find one so if you could help me in my quest that would be appreciated veary much
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