iPad Wallpaper

by | Apr 2, 2011

Here’s a fun project for a Saturday afternoon: make your own iPad wallpaper.

There’s really nothing to it. You have to create a 1024 x 1024 JPG and transfer it to your iPad via iTunes.

I’m doing a series of typography-related wallpapers, and I’ve been creating them in InDesign, which has great type controls.

Hey, here’s something you may not know:

Printer’s measurements use picas and points, and we specify our type in points for size and leading. We specify the length of the line in picas. There are 12 points per pica and 6 picas per inch. That means there are 72 points per inch. Of course, graphics for display on screens are usually done at 72 dots per inch. This makes it easy to set up your document in InDesign even if you’re working in picas.

The important thing to remember with iPad wallpaper is that it has to read well even when the iPad is turned from portrait to landscape. Since the iPad has a rectangular screen, the JPG will resize to fit the screen.

After my first couple of tests I decided to switch to a 1500 x 1500 size artwork. This proved to be easier to deal with since I could more easily keep the artwork centered. Granted, I could have done it in the 1024 x 1024 size, but sometimes I just like to be different, don’t you?

I had no trouble thinking of a quote I wanted to use: it’s my favorite printing-related quote, and it’s from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, author of Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther.

The second half of the history of the world begins with the invention of printing.

It’s very easy to transfer your wallpaper to your iPad. The easiest way is to open iTunes and use the Add to Library function [File/Add to Library] and pick out your JPG. iTunes cleverly knows to add it to your photos on your iPad.

To put it to use, plug your iPad into your computer so it can sync the Photo Library. Then use the Settings app on the iPad and pick Brightness & Wallpaper. From there you’ll be able to pick from all the photos on your iPad. Find the JPG you added to iTunes in your Photo Library.

You can use your wallpaper for either the home screen (behind your app icons), or for your lock screen (the one that comes up when you wake up the iPad). Or both, your choice.

I use the Goethe quote on the home screen. This is what it looks like:

iPad wallpaper, book design

By the way, the dark-to-light gradient you see on the screen is added by the iPad display system, it’s not in the original. My artwork is a flat color. So don’t bother putting a gradient into your artwork until you see what it looks like on a real iPad.

Would you like a copy of my Goethe wallpaper? Here’s a link to get a copy of your own:

TheBookDesigner.com iPad Wallpaper [Goethe]

Click the link to download it, or right-click and choose “Save as . . .” to save it. Enjoy!

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Trung tâm thương mại

    That’s great. I think I will download them to use for my iPad. I really like them. Thanks :)

  2. John Morris

    Hello Joel
    Interesting article on IPad wallpaper, not tried to add mine yet
    Do you think it would be possible to email the Jpeg to the iPad, save it and then import to the wallpaper setting and not go through iTunes
    It it always nice to see designers using pica and points

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi John,

      I haven’t tried that, but it might work. The software needs to know where the images are that you want to use, but that might not prevent you from importing it that way. Can you pick a location to save the attachment in?

      You might like this: Book Design: Points and Picas Primer

      • John Morris

        Hello Joel
        I have e mailed an image which was a jpeg to my iPad e address and if you tap save it seems to save to the photos app automatically. An option button in photo lets you save as wallpaper if you wish. I have not tried with a gif. You may want to try just to see if it works for you

  3. bettymingliu

    hey, i have the goodreader and pocket pond apps too! haven’t gotten into goodreader yet but hear that it’s great. i’ve made one of my paintings my wallpaper. customizing that feature really does add to the ipad experience.

    by the way, i’m taking a typography class at parson’s this semester. now i know why you’re such a freak about this. on the first day of class, the prof said that typography is it’s own art form. one of our running discussion themes is about how fonts exist in a social context — that they’re a reflection of the tastes and values of the times.

    thanks for this saturday morning reflection!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Betty, how cool that you are into typography! I think you’ll find it a great counterpoint to your interest in language and communication.

      Goodreader is a terrific file viewer and manager. I mostly use iBooks now for viewing PDFs. Hey, you could make some wallpaper from your paintings.

      • betty ming liu

        yes, i’m enjoying the typography class. and i’m gonna have to pick up the pace on the goodreader stuff — it’ll make all the things you blog about more real. confession: i still haven’t read a single book on my ipad. time to start! as for the paintings…i’ve already turned them into wallpaper. it’s very satisfying to have the customized background. :)



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