Picture of Spray paint stencil for laptop
Make a stencil, and custom spray paint your laptop.
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Step 1: Design the template

Picture of Design the template
Bold designs work best. Try to keep all features larger than 0.150 inches.

This one is designed such that you can cut it from one piece of material and then snap in the interior pieces to do different layers. Since you never have to remove the first layer, the subsequent layers are already aligned.

If you are going to laser cut the template, make sure your design is in a vector format. Programs such as Adobe Streamline can turn bitmaps into vectors.

Step 2: Make the stencil

Cut the stencil. Printing the design and cutting it by hand is a good option. Adhesive stencils help prevent paint wicking from underneath.

I elected to laser cut a stencil from 1/8 thick acylic. I wanted to reuse the stencil and have relatively small, sharp features.

Step 3: Test stencil

Picture of Test stencil
Test the stencil and your technique before painting your laptop. I have had limited success cleaning up mistakes with paint thinner and a small foam brush.

Step 4: Clean laptop

Picture of Clean laptop
Clean the dirt and grime off our your laptop with acetone, rubbing alcohol, or soap and water. Be careful though, one (or maybe all three?!) might dissolve your laptop! A little bit of acetone on a paper towel didn't harm my ThinkPad.

Step 5: Position the stencil

Picture of Position the stencil
Position the stencil and cover and exposed areas with tape. I used some lead weights to hold the stencil flush against the laptop. Place lead weights carefully!

Step 6: Paint first layer

Picture of Paint first layer
Paint the first layer with thin coats of spray paint. For me, the first layer is the green outline. It's important to spray multiple thin coats several minutes apart. You don't want the paint forming droplets that will wick underneath the stencil.

Step 7: Thin channels and thick paint

Picture of Thin channels and thick paint
I was tempted to place interior parts on this first stencil. The thin channels didn't get much paint in them until I lost patience and really gooped the paint on. It then wicked under the stencil and made a mess.
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I have a pretty awesome looking skull stencil that has seen some serious use, though because my laptop was a gift, I had to resort to getting a vinyl decal made
the ibook is still sexier ;)
IBM way sexier!
i second that
cotton6 years ago
isnt this still stolen anways like 1-2 years ago i saw this ut i forgot were like tim hortons or mr sub
Derin6 years ago
Which one is that ThinkPad?Mine is a R31 made before the IBM/Lenovo thing.
Derin Derin6 years ago
Also,I plan to come about 5-6 years later.Prepare yourselves.
flaresam6 years ago
OMG! I have the same laptop!
Derin flaresam6 years ago
Which model?
abadfart6 years ago
nice my friend has one that looks like a watermelon
For the artistically impaired (like myself) you can open an image in photoshop and mess with threshold to get some great stencils.
that's a great idea. got to try it next time.
Inkscape (www.inkscape.org) is also an excellent vector graphics alternative for the financially impaired :D
MjPadfoot6 years ago
eric the instructable guy hits gold again! awesome intructabe dude...i'll look forward 2 spray painting my own... thanks hannahelastic, great tip for those who cant draw, like me:P
Omega1926 years ago
Yay! eric uses a PC :D haha, nice 'ible, if i ever get a lappy i look forward to pimpin it out :P
You cant repaint it with another design.
looks sticky
ahead7 years ago
Im thinking of turning my Toshiba Sattelite into a red and black monstrosity. Will rustoleum work?
Usermanual9 years ago
Instead of permanantly damaging my notebook I would go to http://www.skinit.com and get a skin made with my custom image. But still cool because you personalized your notebook.
besides paint is cheaper (and you get more pride out of it) "yeah I'm a modder/hacker, I put an online order in for a sticker and then applied it to my computer"
Damaged? Or improved?
who cares? its theirs and if they like it cool, at the end of the day its theirs to do what they want with, try bieng a little more possative
hi its that guy {stew] i agree for once
Ah MR Meatstew my nemesis we meet again, glad you agree =oD
That right theres is whats a calls an ad.
KronoNaut7 years ago
Great instructable Eric.
Punkguyta8 years ago
I was looking at somehow modding my ibook g4, I wanted to have a clear case, but that was pre-g4, they decided to use opaque plastics in the g4 ibooks and above sadly. Any ideas?
Ora Punkguyta7 years ago
You could do one of two things: First, you could take the case off, sand the entire thing with fine grit sandpaper, spray paint it, and put a protective clear coat over it. Or you could take the case, leave it un-sanded, boil some fabric dye in a shallow pan, and boil the case and have it absorb the color like this guy.
Punkguyta Ora7 years ago
Yea I've seen that done before, but I kinda just wanted a clear case, but actually a red ibook g4 would look rather snazzy, I might have to give that a try, thanks. -Punk
Does the spray painted part "stick out"? Like if you run your hands over the image, will you feel a "bump"?
ewilhelm (author)  tehkryptonite7 years ago
A little bit.
Go to Any good art store, on or offline and get yourself some frisket paper. Its a thin vinyl film with an adhesive backing. the back of the frisket is a thin paper that makes it easy to trim and put through a inkjet printer. I personally put the frisket on the surface and then draw with a fine point sharpie. then trim with an exacto, be careful the film is very thin .02 mm but leaves a very sharp line.
Andrew5468 years ago
Those lead weights are huge! How much do they weigh?
ewilhelm (author)  Andrew5468 years ago
15 - 20 lbs I imagine.
Fenwick8 years ago
If you really wanted it to stick for good, you could have used some spraypaint that specifically sticks to plastic (like Krylon Fusion).
Sixxtwo8 years ago
Also another option for color is vinyl dye. sprays and acts like a spraypaint (slightly more 'runny') but it actully dyes the plastics as well; essentully it will not chip, rub or fade off. Also no real priming/sanding needed.

the only drawback is the limited color gamut as it is mainly used to refinish car interior pieces (carpet, door panels, dash parts)

used some on my i9300 dell and unlike the dell paint; in 1 year of use, the dye hasnt faded.

(I hate plugging websites on comment boards; but this seems to be the only place on the internet w/ it. http://store.summitracing.com/egnsearch.asp?N=700+115+301990&D=301990 Also some auto parts stores may have a limited (gray black) selection)
paulrocks39 years ago
OK, How is that damaging it?
Justinicus9 years ago
What kind of paint are you using, and how does it hold up to the abrasion normally experienced by a laptop?
amibolchi9 years ago
If you have a very good inkjet printer, you can build some panels similar to that found in electronics equipment, oscilloscopes etc. Similar way you can make the design above much easily. First link in http://www.electronicsinfoline.com/CircuitBook/Useful_Resources/Electronics_Basics_and_Resources/more2.html describes such a project.
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