How To Make Your Cell Phone Look Like Your Favorite Camera!

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

Photographers. We’re a funny bunch.

If there’s one thing we love (besides taking pictures), it’s getting all photo-geeky with our friends, discussing everything from apertures to Zeiss lenses.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to carry all our awesome cameras with us for bragging rights 100% of the time.

Most days, we’re only armed with our cell phones to take pictures, and that doesn’t make us feel as cool as we know we truly are.

Fortunately, our pal Joey found a fun solution!

With his help, we’re going to show you how you can dress up your cell phone so you’ll never be caught without your favorite camera ever again!

How to: Make Your Cell Phone Look Like Your Favorite Camera!

What you’ll need:

If you want to use your own camera (and your mad skillz) for this project, here’s what you’ll need:

  • An iPhone* to disguise
    (*If you don’t have an iPhone, you can still do this project! See below.)
  • A camera to photograph
  • A second camera
    (to photograph the 1st camera)
  • A computer with image editing software (to make your new photo iPhone compatible)
  • Compressed air or a microfiber cloth (to clean the surface of your iPhone)
  • *Just find a company that will print a skin for your device (check step 7 below for some recommendations), and change the dimensions of the documents we talk about in steps 3-6 to match your phone.


If you’d rather stay out of the complicated stuff or don’t have the equipment to do so, no worries!

You can still play along and make your phone look just as great! All you’ll need to do is grab your iPhone, cleaning supplies, and skip on over to step #7.

Step 1: Photograph Your Camera

To make sure your new disguise blends in with your phone, you’ll want to match the background of the photo to the color of your iPhone.

We used a black background for our iPhone 4. If your phone is white, you’ll want to photograph it on a white background.

You can leave other things (like the stand your camera is on) in the photo for now, we’ll take care of them in the next step.

Step 2: clean up the image

Open the picture of your camera in your image editing software. Using your selection tool, you can easily edit the background of your picture and cut out extras you don’t want to be part of your phone skin (like the platform your camera is sitting on in the original photo!)

For a black iPhone, make the background as dark as you can. For a white iPhone, try to get it as white as possible so it’ll blend in with the phone.

Be sure to set this image aside, because we’ll be coming back to it (twice!) later.

Step 3: Make an iPhone Sized Template

Next up, we’re going to make a new document that will be a template for your phone skin.

To make sure your image is large enough to print at high resolution, you should make a document that is slightly larger than your iPhone and at least 300dpi in resolution.

We made a document 1600 pixels wide by 1000 pixels tall to make sure we had some extra room to play with.

If you want to be super-duper precise, try downloading an image of an iPhone and rescale it to fit inside this document. (So you can clearly see where the borders of your phone skin will be.)

Step 4: Insert your image and stretch it to fit

Now you should take the camera image you’ve already prepared and paste it into the new template document.

Using the scale tool, stretch the image of your camera until it fits into the shape of the iPhone in your template document.

If your camera looks warped (like ours does in this example photo), you’ll probably want to fix it up so that it looks more like a real camera when it’s attached to your phone. We’ll cover that in steps 5 and 6.

If your camera already looks great at iPhone scale, lucky you! Skip to step #7.

Step 5: clone everything out

The first step to fixing a warped camera is to remove the parts that look obviously stretched out so we can replace them with parts that look more proportionate.

You’ll probably want to remove the lens, viewfinder, flash, and any text that’s on the front of the camera.

You can do this in your image editing program using a combination of tools (like cut & paste, healing brushes, and cloning tools).

If you’re using Photoshop CS5, you can do this pretty easily with the content aware fill feature and cloning stamp.

Step 6: Replace the Missing Parts

Now that you’ve got a blank camera to work with, we need to get the important (and unwarped) parts back!

Revisit the photo you saved from step 2. Use the select tool to copy each part (like the lens, flash, and viewfinder) of the camera that you want to be on your phone skin.

When you’re done with each part, paste it into your template on top of the blank camera you made in step 5.

Now you have a stretched out camera body with a lens that doesn’t look warped and only the details you want!

Step 7: The hard work is over!

If you just jumped to this step, we’ve got a couple of options for you.

Our pal Joey Celis has graciously fixed up two different options for you to use. Click either of the images to the right to download a full sized copy you can use to print your own iPhone skin! (and if you want to thank Joey or admire more of his hard work, you can check out his Twitter stream right over here. Thanks Joey!)

Now you can take your finished image and either print it yourself with sticker paper, or have it printed using a service that specializes in making skins for your gadgets. (We used to print ours, but you could also check out some others like skinit, Infectious, or Zaggskins to see which suits you and your phone best)

Step 8: clean your phone and apply the skin

Once you’ve got your skin back from the printer, you’re ready to go!

To make sure it looks fantastic on your phone without air bubbles or dust, break out your cleaning supplies and clean the surface that you’re going to apply the sticker to.

Once it’s all clean, align the phone’s lens and flash with the cut out on the decal. Then, slowly lay the rest of the sticker down on to the phone.

You may now return to the streets looking like the badass photographer you truly are!

Take it Further:

  • If you don’t have an iPhone, you can easily modify these steps to fit your specific make and model phone. Many companies that print gadget skins make them for a wide range of devices. Find one that prints for your specific model, change the template from iPhone proportions to your phone proportions and you’re good to go!
  • Try to recreate your entire vintage camera collection and make yourself a skin to match your mood (or outfit) every day!
  • If you’re not so into phone skins, check out this post by Raphael a.k.a. “BeyondtheTech” who has come up with a great DIY way to recreate this look using a clear iPhone case.
  • Why stop with your phone? We’re betting a laptop disguised as an old school typewriter or 4″x5″ camera would charm analog fans everywhere!

Photo Credit: All photos in this tutorial are courtesy of Joey Celis. If you want to see his awesome work elsewhere, you can check him out on flickr, twitter, or tumblr!