The Eve iBook Mod
This is my Eve iBook mod. Awhile ago I wanted to do something different with my iBook, having grown bored with the plain snow-white surface. Now that it's way past its warranty, I figured this would be the perfect time. After checking out Applefritter, I was inspired by some rather creative mods that mostly involved removing the white inner paint and replacing it with an image. I came up with the idea for Eve because I wanted to create a mod that acknowledged the Apple logo, rather than just ignoring it. I also wanted something more feminine.
Rather than experimenting with my own case, I bought a used one on eBay. It was unfortunately pretty scratched up, but fine for a first attempt.
The first step was to remove the inner plastic elements and padding. You can see them somewhat in these images. On the top shell, there is a piece glued to the plastic on the inside that lets the shell snap to the frame. Removing this was fairly easy. The foam padding in the edges of the bottom part was a pain though, I suggest tackling it only if you have a good solvent and long finger nails.
The second step was to strip off the paint. It's only a thin layer, but tough to remove. I found that 91% rubbing alcohol works quite well by pouring some, letting it sit, wiping away, and then repeating. An old toothbrush also works for the tough spots (of which there are quite a few).
The top shell was relatively easy, but the bottom is a pain with all of the nooks and crannies. The battery lock took a lot of prying, but once it came up it was easy to separate the two pieces, then just snap them back together after repainting.
The Apple logo also came up with some prying. It's just a solid piece of frosted plastic that makes up both the apple and the leaf.
Once the case was clear, It was time to place my image. The image of Eve and the snake I drew in Illustrator and painted in Photoshop, then printed on Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy. I cut it out with an exacto knife, and to make sure that the edges wouldn't show the white of the paper, I carefully darkened them with a permanent marker (I had to be careful though, because permanent ink will bleed through and cause dark spots in the image).
Next was the toughest part, by far. I had to figure out how to attach my image to the case so that it was facing out from inside, and adhere it well enough so that paint would not sneak under any gaps. I also couldn't tape it down, because the paint had to reach to the exact edge of the image. I thought about using a clear spray glue, but I didn't try it for fear that it wouldn't be clear enough, or would foul up my image, or that it would erode the photo paper. The next time I do this though, I think it's worth experimenting with.
The first thing I tried was a glue stick, just barely along the edges of the graphic. This worked for awhile, but as soon as it fully dried the image just flaked off. Since I wasn't able to paint it right away, this didn't help much. I had to touch it up with clear Elmer's glue just before I was ready to paint. The glue stick also left a white residue on the black edges (barely noticeable, but still there). If you use this technique, I suggest waiting until the glue is dry, and then painting immediately before the graphic has a chance to peel off. You should also do it keeping in mind you might end up with a white residue. As my image extended all the way to the bottom edge of the case, it also had to curl in a sharp curve, one that the glue was definitely not strong enough to hold down. Paint snuck in under this gap during the repainting, but later I was able to remove it with more alcohol and a cue tip.
After the image was in place, I cut out the shape of the apple from the front, again with an exacto knife. This was fairly easy, but I had to be careful not to cut too much or there would be gaps for the light to shine through. I then made sure to tape the edges and front of the case with masking tape, in case any paint got around the sides. Then it was ready for painting.
As for the background, I wanted more than just a plain color or graphic, so I thought I'd look into color-changing paint like the kind they use on cars. At first airbrushing seemed like the obvious choice, but while there are plenty of color-changing airbrush colors, airbrushing itself is expensive if you're just starting.
I then looked into using brush-on paint, in pearlescent and interference colors. Interference colors, if spread thinly, will cause an effect much like a color change when layered over another color. However, when I did some testing on the cover of an old battery, I found the streaking from the paintbrush much too obvious, and I wanted something very smooth.
The interference colors are to the right and left. The paint I ended up using is in the middle.
Finally I found a 3-step spray paint by Dupli-Color called "Mirage" at Kmart. They have it in many colors, I chose purple/green. You're supposed to spray your surface with the matte opaque black first, to give the color change a good base. It apparently only works over black. Then you're supposed to put on 3-6 coats of the color-changing paint, and finish it with a clear top coat to enhance the effect.
Unfortunately, I was working from the inside-out so to speak, because I wanted the paint to be visible through the case from the inside. After some testing, I realized it was possible to use the clear top coat on the shell first, then the color-changing paint for the next coat, and finally the black last to act as the "base" for the color. Unfortunately when you do it this way, the 2nd step appears clear rather than color-changing, because it isn't sitting on a black background yet. I would suggest working on top of a dark surface so you can begin to tell how effective your color is, and how many more coats you may want to add. The directions say that the more coats you use of the color-changing paint, the more dramatic the color shift will be. They recommend 3-6, I must have put on 10 at least, and I'm pretty pleased with the end result. The only thing I noticed was that there was some cracking in the final coat of black opaque, which shows through slightly on the front. This may be because I put on too many coats, or didn't let it dry enough before recoating it, or it was too hot out and dried to quickly. However it happened, I learned that caution and patience are definitely necessary when working with this kind of material.
The finished painted case.
After the painting step was finished, I used black electrical tape to hold down the edges of the graphic and against the sharp curve, which filled in any gaps and ended up being much more secure. However, if you ever do a mod anything like this, here's what I suggest you do and what I intend to do the next time:
Print two copies of the graphic you intend to use, a rough one and a final one. Cut out the rough, creating the shape that you want to have "stenciled" within the spray paint. (Make sure that the final version has a thicker border than the rough, and will overlap the final paint job so that you don't have to align it exactly.) Adhere the rough version (temporarily) to the case, perhaps with a glue stick or with spray glue (I have a feeling rubber cement would work well, because it peels easily off plastic). Make sure your edges are clean of glue spots etc., and paint your case. When the paint is dry, carefully remove your rough graphic. Replace it with the final graphic, make sure it is aligned correctly, and then adhere it to the case. If you don't want to use something like glue, tape seems to work well. I was afraid that it might pull up the paint, but the Mirage actually seemed sturdy, perhaps because of all the layers. I was also afraid that the heat from the computer might make the paint or tape peel, but I've only noticed a large amount of heat emanating from the bottom of the chassis, none from the top. So I assume this is safe.
One thing I noticed: scratches. On a white surface they're barely noticeable, but because the Mirage colors are so dark (especially indoors and away from any direct source of light, they appear almost black), the scratches appear much more noticeable. I'd like to have a brand new case to work with the next time I do this, I would suggest it for anyone else as well.
After painting, I concentrated on changing the color of the Apple logo. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to change the color, but wasn't sure what to expect when I removed the top part of the case for the first time. I found that the only thing between the case and the light source is a thin piece of plastic-like paper.
I decided to just replace this paper with one of my own design. However when I tried regular printer paper, the pulp would show up as blemishes because the paper was not evenly translucent. I went to Kinko's, and found a paper that was as smooth as I could get. I think it was opaque white, or something to that effect. They sell it by the sheet, so I could get enough to experiment with without spending an arm and a leg. I was told that it wouldn't work on an ink jet printer, only on laser jets, but I found it worked fine on my photo printer.
I decided on a psychedelic-looking graphic, again created in Photoshop, something that would look cool when lit up. Then it was just a matter of adhering it to the back of the Eve image, again with tape.
Here is a close up of the apple, and when lit.
I put the case back on, and voila! One iBook mod. The color-change appears best in any direct light, especially sunlight. From straight on it appears a blue-ish green, from a slight angle a purple, and from an extreme angle anywhere from gold to blue. Here it is taken from different angles, so you can see the color change in action: