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Create the perfect parallax wallpaper in iOS 7

Here are some guidelines to follow when creating a wallpaper of your own for iOS 7.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

iOS 7 adds a new interactive layer throughout the operating system. It can best be seen when looking at a wallpaper on your home or lock screens.

When you change the viewing angle of your device by tilting it in any direction, any graphics present on the screen will appear to move. This adds a realistic layer of depth to iOS 7. So realistic, in fact, it reportedly has been making some users sick. Should you be in the motion sick camp, or simply hate the new feature, you can always reduce the motion effects throughout iOS 7.

The perfect parallax wallpaper is one that accounts for the new size (beyond that of the current screen resolution), has some depth to it, and provides a realistic feeling of movement.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

General guidelines
You can use a photos taken on your device, which can make for cool-looking wallpapers. Keep in mind they won't conform to the sizes outlined above. You'll need to move the photo around when you're setting it as a wallpaper to get your desired look. In fact, when setting the wallpaper you can preview the parallax effect by tiling your device before you've actually set the photo as a wallpaper.

When using a photo you've taken, try to pick something that has plenty of depth to it. The photo above has an object close in the foreground, with a blurred effect on items in the background. That depth in the photo makes the foremost object (in this case a Lego figurine) appear to move across the screen as I tilt my device.

A standard artistic wallpaper, if you will, needs to also have some depth or texture to it. Look at the backgrounds Apple included with iOS 7. There are some that are nearly single colors, but all have some sort of gradient, pattern, or texture to them to make the most of the parallax effect.

Picking a wallpaper that's a single color, with no depth or texture to it, will all but eliminate the motion effect. But picking a photo with depth to it and that's the proper size will create a true motion effect.

Size it up
There seems to be some debate regarding the size of the wallpaper and what results in the best motion on iOS 7. However, the consensus seems to be that adding 200 pixels to each side of the current screen size of any iOS device will result in the best parallax wallpapers.

Here's the suggested size for parallax wallpapers by device (WxH):

  • iPhone 5/5C/5S: 1,040x1,536
  • iPhone 4S: 1,040x1,360
  • iPad (third and fourth gen): 1,936x2,448
  • iPad Mini: 1,168x1,424
  • iPod Touch (fifth gen): 1,040x1,536

In order to crop or resize any images for a wallpaper, you can use a program such as Photoshop (which is a bit overkill for something like this) or use a free program such as Gimp.

When you have a larger image, like a photo or a wallpaper you've found online, do not simply resize it to the dimensions above. Pick a center or focal point of the wallpaper, and crop around it to fit the proper dimensions. Resizing will distort your photo, resulting in a wallpaper that won't look good, and you're likely to hate.

And that's it. Once you have a proper photo that's cropped to the right size, you're ready to make some awesome-looking parallax wallpapers. Please come back and share some of them in the comments below!