Introduction: Customizing the Xbox 360 Controller Guide Button

There are a good number of instructables for painting the Xbox 360 and accessories, but none that focus on finer customization of the controller Guide button.  If you're going for a truly custom look, the guide button is one component that is often overlooked.  There is obviously a bit more going on in these project pictures, but I will just be focusing on the Guide Button here (with a small tangent for doing the same to another piece of the controller).

Step 1: Prepping the Part(s)

The way the guide button is designed, it is not smooth on top, the 360 X logo is embossed metal on top of the plastic, so you can't just paint over the top and place your own lettering or logo on there.  Before starting, wash the button with mild soap and water and dry it off good and prepare to cover it with body putty.

The metal already has a bit of texture to it, but to ensure the best possible bond, it is a good idea to rough it up some more with sandpaper or otherwise score the surface a bit.  I just used an X-acto knife and scratched it up good.

For this project, I was also putting custom lettering on the piece between the shoulder buttons which has a recessed Microsoft logo on it.  That needed to be filled as well.  The prep procedure is the same, but I used sandpaper to rough up that piece just a bit.

When the parts are ready, mix up a little bit of your favorite body putty and head to step 2.

Step 2: Covering Up the Existing Design

It doesn't take much putty to cover the top of the button and even out the embossed parts.  Just cover the whole thing with a thin layer and let it set up for the required amount of time.  If you put on too much, it'll mean a whole lot more sanding in the next step. 

Or, you can build it up really high and do some interesting sculpting with the top of the button in the next steps.  This project called for a nice smooth top, so we'll go with that.

For filling in the lettering on the controller piece, do the same thing and then scrape off any excess putty to save yourself sanding there as well.  Let it set up just a little bit first and then carefully scrape it off with a knife.

Step 3: Sand, Shape and Smooth

Once the putty has fully cured, it is time to sand everything down.  Use a fairly fine grit paper and go somewhat slow.  You want to get as close as possible back down to the metal, without actually sanding all the way through.  You also need to be careful to make sure everything remains symetrical so the button doesn't look lopsided when all done.  If working on the logo piece as well, just sand it down until there is only putty left in the lettering and the rest of the plastic is clean.

Step 4: Prime and Paint

Follow any of the other painting instructables to get a good finish on the parts.  The most important thing here is to mask off the areas that shouldn't have paint on them.  For the guide button, that means any of the green plastic below where the putty is.  If that gets a lot of paint build up on it, it won't move up and down properly anymore.  It isn't quite as important with the controller piece, but it is a good idea to keep paint off the surfaces which need to match up with the other parts of the controller shell.

A couple coats of primer, followed by a coat or two of color and finished with two or three coats of clear will do the trick.  I did a light wetsanding between all coats.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

When all the paint is good and cured, run a quick test fit of the parts to make sure everything will still fit okay and function properly.  If all is good, put everything back together and game on!

For this project, some custom decals were printed and applied to the top of the button and the front of the controller.

As a bonus, the LEDs were swapped for red as well.  :)