Although the 2012 iPad, reviewed, doesn't look any different from the iPad 2, the gorgeous 2048x1536-pixel screen certainly does. And it deserves to be shown off with some great wallpapers.

The selection that Apple pre-loads is good but rather limited in scope. It's time to turn your own photos into hi-def wallpapers that will make your tablet shine.

A long as you have a 6Mp camera or better, you should have the necessary 2048-pixel vertical resolution. This is because you need to create square 2048x2048 wallpapers to ensure there are enough pixels to cope with both portrait and landscape orientations. It's logical if you think about it: in portrait mode, the iPad displays a 1536x2048 image, while in landscape, you see a 2048x1536 image.

You can use a lower resolution image, such as a photo from the iPad's iSight camera, but you'll have to upscale it to make it large enough to display on the Retina screen. It's still best to start with an image with more pixels than you need, rather than fewer.

The first step, then is to choose an image to work with. Ideally, you'll want something that's not too busy for the home screen, otherwise it will make it hard to see the app icons and read the text beneath them. For the lock screen, you can go to town and use anything.

Step 1

Here, we'll create a home screen wallpaper. First, open your image in your favourite photo editor. We're using Photoshop CS5, but just about anything that can crop resize images will do. This macro shot of tree bark might look a bit dull, but it won't distract too much when icons are overlaid.

Open image in Photoshop

Step 2

Optimise the levels to ensure your image has the biggest dynamic range. Here, our image was slightly under-exposed, as shown by the 'hill' with a space to the right of it. It means the brightest value in the image is well below what it could be without losing detail due to overexposure. To fix it, we've dragged the white slider beneath the histogram to the left until it reaches the brightest point in the image. You can tweak the image as much as you like, adding saturation, sharpness and anything else you feel would improve your shot.


Step 3

Crop the image so it's square. In Photoshop, select the Marquee tool and choose Fixed Ratio in the Style drop-down. Enter the same number in the Height and Width boxes and draw a selection. Finally, choose Crop from the Edit menu. There are other ways to crop and resize your image, including using Photoshop's Crop tool. With this, you can specify the pixel dimensions of the cropped image in the tool bar at the top. Just remember to add 'px' after the number. Select the area you want to crop and double-click to crop and resize in one fell swoop.


Step 4

Save the image in JPG or PNG format. PNG is a better choice as there's no loss in quality, but creates very large files. JPEG is a lossy format, but will result in a much smaller file. You'll want to opt for the highest quality when saving in this format.

Save as

Step 5

Transfer the image to your iPad. Again, there are a number of ways to do this. You can connect your iPad to your computer and, under the Photos tab, choose a folder with which to synchronise. As long as you place your image in that folder, it will be copied to your iPad. You can then select the photo from the corresponding Album in the Photos app.

Other ways include emailing the photo to one of the email accounts you use on your iPad. Tap and hold on the attachment and choose Save Image. The photo will be saved to your Camera Roll. Alternatively, use an online storage service such as Dropbox. This can synchronise photos from the Dropbox folder on your computer to the Dropbox app on your iPad. Locate the photo in the Dropbox app and tap the icon at the top-right and choose Save Photo. It will also be stored in the Camera Roll.

Save to Camera Roll

Step 6

Open the Photos app and find the new image. Tap the icon which looks like a box with an arrow pointing to the right and choose Use as Wallpaper. Finally, tap the Set Home Screen button at the top. Return to the home screen to see your wonderous new wallpaper.

Final wallpaper

You can download the wallpaper we've created by right-clicking and saving this file: Tree_bark.png