How to make a DIY iPhone cover: Sublimation on metal cases

How to make a DIY iPhone cover: Sublimation on metal cases

Creating a DIY iPhone cover using sublimation is only hard at first. After mastering how to make one, you can even make more—and start selling them if you want to! 

DIY iPhone cover - cute patterns

Many people are curious about making DIY iPhone covers and even selling them. That’s because of two reasons:

First, iPhone cases can help us show off our personalities, interests, or advocacies in public. Second, let’s face it—mirror pics wouldn’t be complete without showing off an awesome iPhone cover.

Have you been wanting to create your own iPhone cover? Why not take it to the next level and learn how to make iPhone covers through sublimation?

In this post, we will teach you how to print a sublimation on hard iPhone covers. 

How to make your DIY iPhone cover with sublimation

Take note that this method will involve using a sublimation printer, paper, and ink. Using a jet-ink printer to print sublimation is dangerous. So, if you’re serious about making and selling DIY iPhone covers, invest in a sublimation printer, paper, and ink first.

What you will need: 

a metal insert of an iPhone case
This is a metal insert with a rubber or plastic case. – Photo
  • Metal insert with rubber/plastic case – The metal insert is where you will sublimate or “heat-transfer” the design.
  • Heat tape
  • Sublimation printer – for printing your cover’s design.
  • Two pieces of parchment paper
  • Sublimation ink
  • Sublimation paper – A4
  • Access to Adobe Photoshop 
  • Royalty-free pattern or design – JPEG
  • Template for your iPhone model – JPEG
  • Steam iron or heat press
  • A pair of scissors

Step 1. Design your cover on Photoshop. 

cute random patterns
cute warm colors style and patterns
  1. First, search for a cover template for your iPhone model on Google. Here’s an example of templates for the iPhone 6.
  2. Right-click on the photo and select Copy Image
  3. Open Photoshop, select File > New
  4. Next, copy the size of the iPhone cover template on the Width and Height boxes.  This will also be the size of the canvas. Select OK.
  5. Now, select Edit > Paste. The iPhone cover template will now be on the canvas. Rename your iPhone cover template as COVER
  6. At the bottom right side of the window, delete the background layer.
  7. Create a new layer and rename it as TRANSPARENT. Move the TRANSPARENT layer under the COVER layer. 
  8. Next, select the COVER layer. 
  9. Click on the Magic Wand tool and remove the white space that surrounds the cover and the space inside the hole for the camera.
  10. Now, go to a royalty-free site like Pexels, Pixabay, or Unsplash. Choose any pattern that you like. Right-click on the image and select Copy Image.
  11. Go back to Photoshop. Select Edit > Paste.
  12. The pattern will now be pasted on your canvas. Rename the pattern’s layer as PATTERN.
  13. Right-click on the PATTERN layer and select Create Clipping Mask.
  14. There you have it—a printable DIY iPhone cover. 
  15. Finally, click File > Save to save the original file as PSD. 
  16. To save a printable file, click File > Save > Select JPEG as file format > Save. Save it on your desktop so that you can easily find it and print it.

Read: How to clean an iPhone camera thoroughly in 3 steps

Step 2. Print the design. 

iPhone covers zebra pattern

In this step, you will need to plug your printer into your PC or laptop. You can then launch the printer software. We already taught you how to make the DIY iPhone cover design on Photoshop, but take note that some printer software programs allow users to create their own designs on the application as well. Below, we will teach you how to upload the design you created from Photoshop and then print it using the sublimation printer. 

  1. First, plug your sublimation printer into your laptop.
  2. Load the sublimation paper print-side down. The side with the pattern or logos should be facing you.
  3. If you’re using a sublimation printer software such as Creative Studio by Sawgrass Ink, you can upload your design and print it from there.
  4. Upload your design and select Print
  5. Next, select the sublimation printer’s name as the printing device and the sublimation ink’s name as the ink. 
  6. On the Substrate dropdown menu, select Metal. Select your sublimation paper’s name on the Paper dropdown menu.
  7. Check “Mirror” so that you can sublimate your design on the metal insert.
  8.  Hit Print. This will only take a few seconds since a sublimation printer is faster than a jet-ink printer.

Read: Blurry iPhone camera: 5 simple steps to get rid of it

Step 3. Sublimate the printed design on the metal insert. 

Now, for the final step. It’s time to sublimate your design on the metal insert for your DIY iPhone cover. Be careful in this step since it will involve using a heat press or steam iron. 

  1. Place a piece of parchment paper on a table. 
  2. Cut the design out of the sublimation paper using the scissors. Leave a border of no more than an inch. 
  3. Secure the metal insert into the first piece of parchment paper with two pieces of heat tape. Cover with another piece of parchment paper. 
  4. Now, set the steam iron or heat press’s temperature to 356 degrees. Press it into the metal insert for two minutes. 
  5. Let it cool for a minute and carefully remove the two pieces of heat tape. 
  6. Now, peel the metal insert off your design. As you can see, it has transferred onto the metal insert.
  7. Finally, peel the sticker paper off your silicone or rubber case. Stick the metal insert into it. 
  8. There you have it—your first DIY iPhone cover!
DIY iPhone cover - red lips patter iPhone cover


As you can see, making a DIY iPhone cover is not that easy at first. You will have to design a cover or look for a royalty-free artwork or pattern. After that, you will have to spend on the materials and the printing device. But once you get the hang of it, you can master how to make a DIY iPhone cover and print in batches. You can even test if you can sell it. Maybe make a batch of five, sell it to your friends, and see how it goes. 

Related questions 

Where can I find DIY iPhone cover printables?

You can find iPhone case printables on Pinterest. If you want blank iPhone cases, you can buy them in bulk on Amazon. Most of them are made of silicon so that you can insert the printable. 

What are good DIY iPhone cover ideas?

Besides using printables, you can use Washi tape, cross-stitch patterns, or even baked clay on phone cases. If you’re planning to sell iPhone cases, it’s better to appeal to a certain niche such as fans of Studio Ghibli or Disney-Pixar films. After that, you can just whip up your rendition of the characters, print them, and insert them into the phone cases.