Introduction: Custom PS3 Controller Paint Job

I have always wanted to give my PS3 controller a one of a kind look. I did my own research on the web and here is what I came of with for my controller. Go take a look at Matt Carl's instructable on the PS3 controller. I was able to get most of my ideas from him.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

The materials needed for this project are fairly simple.


  1. Krylon paint (Any number of colors that you want and a can of clear gloss coat).
  2. Painters tape and any other material needed for masking off your design.
  3. PS3 controller (I am using the dualshock 3 controller).
  4. Powder-free latex gloves.
  5. Cardboard and/or butcher paper to do your painting on.


  1. Small Phillips screw driver.
  2. X-acto knife.
  3. Cutting board.
  4. Tooth brush.

Step 2: Controller Disassembly

Start off by removing the 5 screws on the back of the controller. Once the screws have been removed carefully pull the two halves apart making sure the L2 and R2 buttons don't fly off. 

To remove the L2 and R2 buttons grab the button from the sides and pull straight out from where they are clipped in.

To remove the L1 and R1 buttons grab the white plastic piece that the L2 and R2 buttons clip into and carefully pull up and out from the controller making sure you do not put to much pressure on the wire ribbon that is connected to that piece. The L1 and R2 will then easily slip out.

To remove the circuit board and plastic frame with the dual shock motors first pull the battery from the circuit board and remove the one screw as seen in the image. Now unclip the 4 clips on the motors to free the whole assembly. Use your small screw driver to push the small tap on the clip toward the motor to free the motors. Finally pull the whole assembly out.

On the top half of the controller there is a clear piece that is used to indicate which player the controller is. Use your X-acto knife to lift it up and out of the controller. This will keep you from painting over the clear portion.

On the bottom half of the controller near the front edge is a small black reset button that can be removed. Pull this out so you will not loose this part.

Finally remove the d-pad ,start/select, PS, X,triangle, circle and square buttons. They should easily slip out if turned upside down.  


Step 3: Cleaning and Masking

Take your bare controller shell to the sink and use some hot water with regular dish soap to clean every surface of the shell. pay particular attention to the grooves between the two halves and down each hole for the buttons. This will remove all the oils that came off of your hands that will hinder the paint from adhering to the surface properly. Set them aside to completely dry before masking off the controller for paint. If you plan on using the existing buttons, go ahead and clean them off as well. I plan on using a new set of buttons in the controller.

At this point it will be a good idea to use your powder-free latex gloves to handle the shell. You will not what to put any more oil back onto the controller that you just cleaned off. Use your gloves until the last coat of clear coat is dry.

To prepare for the first coat of paint there are a few spots that you want to apply tape that you do not want paint on. The first is the holes for the x, triangle, circle and square. If to much paint builds up in these holes the buttons will get stuck and not pop back up. The other spot is the rounded surface next to the thumb sticks where the two halves overlap. If this has paint it main cause problems when reassembling the controller. You can tape the insides of the holes for the d-pad, start/select and PS buttons if would like but i found it was not necessary. 

Step 4: Painting and Design

Before painting I bent some cardboard strips and taped them to my table as small stands for the shells. 

You now need to decide what your first color will be. It will need to be the color of the design you came up with. If you have more than two colors, start with the color that is used the least. The next color will be the next least used color and so on and so forth until your final color. I only used two colors and the design is blue so i started with that.

With the shells masked off, move to a well ventilated area and begin spraying. It is better to put on 2-4 thin coats then one thick coat. If you try to get every square inch of the shells coated with your paint if will start running and dripping down the sides. Take your time and put on several thin coats giving about 15 minutes between coats. Allow 24 hours before moving on to the next color.

This is where you start to use your imagination. You need to first put the two halves back together and then mask off the areas you want to keep your first color. What inspired me was the look of lines in circuit boards and line patterns in the movie tron. To create this image I had in my mind I used a ruler and X-acto knife to cut out 1/4" and 1/8" strips of tape to create the lines. To add a little bit more character I used the sticker rings that repair torn holes in lined paper put into three ring binders. These rings intersect the lines in random places. It is very important to press all the tape firmly down onto the shells so no paint flows underneath the tape. If any of the tape crossed from one half of the shell to the other use your X-acto knife to cut the tape along the seam so you can pull the two halves apart again. It is much easier to paint like this. Go back to where you do your painting and spray on your next color. 

If you have any more colors to use just repeat masking off where you want to keep your color and spray the next color. do not remove any tape you have already put on until all the colors are done. Allow 24 hours to dry between each color.

The last thing to do with your shell is apply the clear gloss coat. Carefully pull all the tape off the shell making sure you do not scratch the paint with your fingernail or X-acto. If you use anything other than painters tape you might have problems pulling it off. Apply about 2-4 thin coats of the clear gloss. This will seal in the color and protect it from scratches, dirt and oils from your hands.

Step 5: Reassembly and Final Touches

Once the clear coat is fully dried and cured, the reassembly is just the reverse of dissassembly. Do not forget the reset button and the clear piece for the light.

Like I mentioned earlier I bought some clear green buttons and glow-in-the-dark thumb sticks to replace the stocks ones. The thumb sticks simply pulled off and push back on. be careful not to break the circuit board replacing the thumb sticks. 

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when putting everything back:
  • Make sure everything sits in the shell securely.
  • Make sure the motors snap into the clips and are tight.
  • Don't forget the one screw in the circuit board.
  • The L1 and R1 buttons need to placed with mounting piece for the L2 and R2 buttons pulled up slightly.
  • The spring on the L2 and R2 buttons will sit between the piece the button mounts onto and the button itself.
  • Slip the bottom shell carefully over the L2 and R2 buttons first then snap the two halves together.
  • Before putting in the 5 screw on the back of the controller, make sure all the buttons spring back into place after being pressed.
With the screws in go ahead and turn on your PS3 and play some games. Make sure to test every button that is functioning properly.

Let me know what you think of my design and if you paint up your own controller send me a picture. I would like to see what you all come up with.

Again go take a look at Matt Carl's Instructable on his controller.