The iPad has a 1024 x 768 pixel screen, and so does the iPad2.

However, it can be used horizontally as well as vertically. So what happens to your wallpaper when you turn the iPad’s orientation since it reverses the vertical and horizontal dimensions? That is, it goes from 1024 pixels wide to 768 pixels wide, and 768 pixels high to 1024 pixels high.

When you turn iPad from the horizontal to vertical orientation, or vice-versa, it automatically rotates its wallpaper to match. But that’s all it does, in rotating your wallpaper. It does not resize it to fit the new dimension. Good thing, too, cause pictures of you and your friends would be rather ugly in one orientation or another… even if skinny ugly and not just fat ugly.  See Figures 1 and 2 below that shows no resizing in iPad wallpapers with rotation of orientation (please click to enlarge).

What that means is you need a square wallpaper that is 1024 pixels in each dimension. What it also means is that some parts of your wallpaper will never be seen, and some parts will only be seen. See Figure 3 for visual of descriptions below.

A square of 128 x 128 pixels in each corner will never be seen (black areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A strip 128 pixels high and 768 pixels wide at the top and bottom center will only be seen in the vertical orientation (red areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A strip 768 pixels high and 128 pixels wide at the left and right center will only be seen in the horizontal orientation (green areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A square 768 pixels on each side, appearing at the center of the image, will always be seen (white area).

Make sure everything critical to your image is in this area.

So how do you make sure you have something that works?

Well, it’d be a real pain to have to measure out everything all the time. The easiest sure way I can think of is to take the image in Figure 3 to place over your image and make it half see-through (or 50% opacity), so see if anything important in your image is in the covered area.

That’s still a pain, though, I know. “Eyeballing” the “covered patches” in Figure 3 is the only quick way of doing things. It’s not perfect, but it could be effective. You’re basically looking at cutting out 1/8 of your picture from each side (for the covered areas).

The easiest, but not necessarily fail safe, way to do it is to find your favourite 1280 x 1024 wallpapers and crop out a square the height of the full picture. Hold down the Shift key when you crop usually gives you a square. Then stretch it to the full height of the picture. Then move your square around so the 1/8 strips around the edges don’t seem to take up any important parts of your picture. Then crop and there you have it! The nicest thing about this method is that the 1280 x 1024 monitors are very popular and there are tens, of not hundreds, of millions of wallpapers already existing for them from which you can turn into iPad wallpapers.

I “eyeballed” things to create the wallpaper in Figure 4 (which is an image from the movie Avatar), and did OK.

In case you liked my “eyeballing sample” in Figure 4, I’ve included the real wallpaper for your use in Figure 5.

If you use it, Figure 6 shows how it will appear on your iPad in the horizontal orientation.

Figure 7 shows how it will appear on your iPad in the vertical orientation.

If you have any experience with Photoshop Actions (and have Photoshop at your disposal), you can always record an Action where you place the guides down. I find zooming to 400% helps accurately placing guides at 128 pixels in (and at 896 pixels from the far edge of 1024). Then you create another Action to remove those guides using the Clear Guides command under the View menu (in CS3). I have these set up so after I’ve cropped an image, I click on an Action to see the guides showing my cut-offs. If I am satisfied, I click on the next Action to clear them and Save. If not, I just Undo a few steps and crop again and test it again.

If you’ve got better methods, please do share! Thanks!

Please click here to see the iPad wallpapers I have created
(using Photoshop actions to verify their suitability).

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Flesch-Kincaid grade reading level: 7.4

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