I love changing my phone case, but it isn't always easy to find exactly what I'm looking for. The solution? Transforming a basic case into whatever I can dream up. For this design, I took a cheap canvas phone case and used acrylic paints to turn it from plain grey to a pastel rainbow gradient filled with tons of tiny candies and desserts!
This case features an assortment of candies, chocolates, donuts, ice cream cones, cupcakes, lollipops, and more, but it can be customized to include whatever you feel like painting! This project may be a bit time-consuming, but soon you'll be able to have a new unique, personalized phone case!
Step 1: Gather Materials
For this project, you will need the following:
- A New Canvas/Cloth Phone Case (preferably a light color like white or grey)
- Acrylic Paints (pink/red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, and brown)
- Fluid Medium to Thin Paints (such as Liquitex Glazing Medium, optional)
- Small Paint Brushes
- A Matte Sealant Spray (Like Krylon Matte Finish Spray)
- Makeup Sponges
- Newspaper or Construction Paper to Cover Workspace
- Disposable Plastic Container for Mixing Paint
- Craft Sticks or Palette Knives to Mix Paint
- Water for Cleaning Paint Brushes
Step 2: Mix the Paint for the Background
Once you have all of your materials, you can begin prepping the paint that you will use for the rainbow background. I started by adding a few drops of each rainbow color to a section of a plastic container. I then mixed each drop with enough white acrylic paint to make the colors as light as I wanted before adding a few drops of a fluid medium to each color. The fluid medium isn't necessary, but it helps to thin the paint out a bit, which allows the canvas to soak up the color more without requiring a bunch of layers. Generally, the fewer layers of paint you have on your finished phone case, the less likely it is that the paint will start cracking and chipping away as time goes on, making the case last longer.
Once you have the paints mixed, you might want to test them on small patches of the case to ensure they're the right color, as the color of the canvas will affect the color of your paints. If you like the results, you can move on the applying the rest of the paint!
Step 3: Paint the First Layer of the Background
Starting from one end of the case and working your way to the other end, begin adding the paint with a small, flat paintbrush. You'll want to divide the case into six sections - one for each color - but the sections don't all have to be the same size. Make sure you paint the outer edges of the case as well, and if you get any paint on the metal or plastic decorations on the case, use a cotton swab dipped in water to remove the paint before it dries.
It'll probably take several layers of paint to build up the pastel colors. Don't worry about trying to do the gradient at this point, but stop adding paint once the colors are almost as opaque as you want.
Step 4: Blend the Background Colors Into a Gradient
While the paint is still wet from the last step, take a sponge (the triangular makeup sponges are perfect for this) and load one side with your pink paint and the other with orange. Where the pink and orange sections meet on your case, gently dab the sponge up and down to create a gradient. This works best when the paint underneath is still wet, so if you've taken too long and the paint has started drying, just add another layer of paint before you sponge the last layer on.
Once the area between the pink and orange sections is blended, use a new piece of makeup sponge for each additional section, stopping once you have blended the blue and purple together. You can also use the makeup sponge to cover any areas of the case where the colors look patchy rather than opaque. Before moving on to the next step, allow the background to dry completely or the colors will bleed when you go to paint over the background.
Step 5: Paint the Outlines of the Sweets
After ensuring that the background is completely dry, you can start painting the outlines of all the sweets you want to include. Using a small detail brush and black acrylic paint, just paint the most basic shapes to give yourself a general guide of where you want the sweets to be. Your outlines don't have to be perfect, as most of them will get messed up when you go to add details later anyway.
If you're not sure what sweets you'd like to paint, you can search for images of candies and desserts for inspiration. I included donuts, ice cream cones, cupcakes, peppermints, candy corn, jelly beans, candy bars, lollipops, gummi bears, caramel apples, and more in my design, but you can add whatever you're comfortable with painting. I also decided to make the outlines different sizes and rotate the images to make the design more interesting.
Step 6: Fill in the Sweets
After you have your outlines, you can fill them in with paint to bring yours sweets to life! I chose to add a lot of shading and details to my images to make them look more realistic, but you can add as many or as few details as you want; just paint within your skill set and comfort zone to create the design you'll be happy with.
During this step, don't worry if you accidentally paint over your outlines - it's almost inevitable, and we'll fix the outlines at the end anyway, so it's not a big deal.
Step 7: Make the Images Look Like Stickers
I wanted my images to really stand out from the background and look like they were just stickers that were put on the case, so I used my detail brush and white paint to add white outlining around all the free edges of the images. If you don't like the way this looks, you can absolutely skip this step.
Step 8: Fix the Outlines and Add Final Details
For the final step of painting, you're going to go back over your outlines with black paint to fix any areas where you covered the previous outlines. You can also add any new details you want (like lines separating the pieces of candy on the chocolate bar or the lines on the candy wrappers) before you finish your project.
You'll want to work very carefully during this step, as it's easy to paint the lines too thick or let your hand slip and paint the wrong area. If this occurs, just let the black paint dry before you paint over it again with the correct color.
Once you're satisfied with your work, allow your case to dry fully before you move on. I left my case out to dry overnight, but a few hours should suffice - just gently touch the case with your finger to make sure the paint isn't still wet.
Step 9: Seal the Design
Once the paint is dry, you'll want to seal your design with a sealant. I prefer a matte spray, as the matte finish looks more natural and will give you a better grip when you hold your phone case (a glossy finish makes the case slippery so you're more likely to drop it!), and spraying the case rather than painting on a sealant makes the paint less likely to smear or bleed.
Make sure you take your project to a well ventilated area (preferably outside), and use newspaper to protect your work surface and gloves to keep the sealant off your hands.
You'll want to follow the directions on the packaging of your individual sealant, but with this Krylon matte finish spray, I sprayed a thin layer on the case and waited for it to dry for five minutes before adding a second layer of sealant. I then waited several hours for the second layer to dry before using the case. Again, check the instructions on your sealant to make sure you correctly seal your project.
Step 10: Add Your Phone and Enjoy Your New Case!
Once your case has had ample drying time, you can insert your phone and start using it!
Obviously, your new case is more fragile than most cases, and the paint may start cracking or flaking off, especially where it folds over. If the case becomes dirty, you can gently wipe it with a damp cloth, but you should avoid most water contact. With gentle use, though, the case should last for awhile, and you can always paint another when this one starts showing wear!