Although not many people have, you’ve probably seen pictures of laptops that appear to be transparent. I thought it was a cool idea, so I tried it myself. It turned out to be a lot harder than it looks – my final product isn’t even much to brag about. Although it can be hard, it is a fun thing to do, and fun to send to friends for a laugh and a “how did you do that?”.
Here’s what you will need to make your own transparent laptop picture:
- Digital Camera
- Memory Card reader (not required, but makes it much easier)
- Laptop (yes, windows laptops work too)
- Photoshop, GIMP or similar image editing software
This project involves taking three different pictures. The first two will be taken at the same time, and the last will be taken after some editing. It is very important that you do not move your computer or tripod during the whole process.
First, set up your camera and tripod and frame the shot that you will want your final picture to look like. Take one with the laptop closed, and another with the laptop open. After the shot of the open laptop, do not move the display, the camera’s zoom, or the camera itself.
Now you will have to carefully load the two pictures you took onto your computer. I suppose using another computer may be easier. Open both images in your image editor. Paste the open-laptop image into a layer above the closed-laptop image. Use the Crop Tool to size and rotate a rectangle that will fit exactly on the screen of your laptop. Crop it, then delete the open-laptop layer. You are now left with a picture of whatever was behind your laptop’s screen. This is the image that you will set as your desktop background.
You will now have to do some trial and error. Once you have your desktop background set up, take a step back and maybe even take a picture. You will most definitely have to adjust the color of your background. Go back to your image editor and adjust things like Color Balance, Hue and Saturation until your background is almost the same as the real life background.
Once you have calibrated the color settings, just set it as your background and open some windows like Finder or Adium. Having windows open makes the picture look a lot more real. Now you can step back and take your final picture. Finally, you can edit the image so that the screen and the background match each other even more so.
Feel free to post your results in the comments, would love to see some more!