Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Design a Custom Phone Case
Did you know that Printful offers custom phone cases? You can add cases for the most recent iPhone and Samsung models to your store (or print a one-off case for yourself!).
This blog post goes over why you should consider adding phone cases to your store and explains how to design your custom phone case. It also covers details about the cases themselves and how they’re printed.
Phone cases are a must-have for most smartphone owners today. In fact, 79% of smartphone owners are using a case for their phones, according to a 2017 Statista survey. And with every new phone model released, there’s new demand for phone cases.
A similar survey by NPD found that there are 5 main groups of people who buy phone cases:
The motivations for buying cases are vastly different—some people emphasize practicality and protection, while others are more interested in a case that represents their style, personality, and interests.
More high-fashion brands like Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton are also delving into phone case designs, positioning phone cases as not only a practical tech accessory but also a fashion statement.
Through Printful, you can enter the phone case market and create phone cases with your own original designs. Below we discuss the different cases and printing processes on offer, as well as some tips for creating graphics.
As of now, Printful has phone cases designed for the following iPhone and Samsung models that are available in both the US and Europe:
Besides clear cases for iPhones, we also offer Speckled iPhone Cases that provide anti-shock protection and are made from natural ingredients.
Whether more models are added will depend on the phone’s popularity and customer demand.
Printful phone cases are thin, light, and made of a hybrid Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) and Polycarbonate (PC) plastic.
They’re one-piece, have solid plastic construction, and the holes and buttons are aligned with the phone’s features.
The transparent phone cases aren’t shock-proof. So while they may protect your phone from some minor wear and tear, don’t count on them to be indestructible or to prevent serious damage. They’re meant mostly for aesthetic purposes.
What design do you think would look good on one?
The first step for every phone case order is approving the graphics—if the graphics match our guidelines, the order is sent to print.
Before printing, a trained operator makes sure the printer doesn’t have any lint or dust. A white underbase and colored top coat are then printed simultaneously using UV printing technology. Once the cases are complete, they’re packaged in poly bubble padded mailers and shipped out.
UV printing essentially dries ink through a photochemical reaction. High-intensity ultraviolet lights are used to cure inks, turning them from liquid to solid. UV printing is commonly used to print on materials such as plastic, wood, and metal.
Contrary to some of Printful’s other products, we can print semi-transparent colors on phone cases. However, there are some extra considerations to keep in mind if you opt for transparent colors.
This is because the contrast of solid colors (which are printed with a white underbase) and transparent colors (without a white underbase) is stark. In some cases the end result may look like there are gaps in your design and that colors didn’t print properly. This is especially noticeable with white and lighter tones, so use extra caution with those colors. The best thing to do is to order samples to test how your graphics turn out.
When editing transparent colors in Photoshop, it will refer to “opacity.” Transparency and opacity are the inverse of each other—100% transparent is 0% opaque and vice versa. If you have a graphic and you want 25% transparency, on Photoshop it’ll show up as 75% opacity.
As always, we recommend ordering samples to make sure the cases come out the way you envisioned. You always want to see a sample of your product before putting it on the market.
You don’t have to fill up the entire space with your design. Blank space in your print file will be clear and you’ll be able to see the phone through the case.
If you’d like to create a graphic where parts of the case are clear, keep the phone logo, color, and text placement in mind. You’ll be able to see it, so it may affect the way your design looks.
Graphics don’t wrap around the entire case so that the sides will be see-through. This is great because it gives you a little bit of both worlds—you get to feature your awesome designs, but you don’t completely cover up the design of the phone, either.
Be sure to follow the guidelines when creating your print files. A print file that doesn’t match our guidelines might not turn out the way you want. These are our must-follow phone case guidelines:
We recommend submitting your files in PNG or JPEG format. To ensure that the design has a transparent background, submit your design in PNG. Remember, your artwork should measure 2.93” x 6.1” with 300 DPI.
Make sure your print file is set to the sRGB color profile, sRGB IEC61966-2.1 to be exact. Don’t worry, most editing software have sRGB color profile set as their default.
Keep all important graphic elements or text within the safe print area. This means that the most important elements of your graphic should be within the dotted line of a given template; anything outside the safety zone may be cut off.
Keep the placement of the case’s camera hole in mind with your design. And if you’re designing a case that’s transparent or doesn’t have a background color, consider where the phone’s logo or text will appear.
When using our templates, be sure to delete the guideline layers before exporting your files. If you don’t delete them, they will show up on the print.
You can download our iPhone and Samsung case guidelines from the phone case product description pages under the File guidelines tab. Or, click here to download the zip file right now.
To give your customers a better idea of what they’re buying, we advise you to create product mockups using Printful’s Mockup Generator. All you need to do is drop your design on the selected product, download generated images, and upload them to your store.
If you’re unsure how to start designing your phone case, check out our Design Maker.
With this tool, you can create beautiful patterns, upload and adjust any of your photos, and get creative with clipart and Quick Designs.
Here’s a step-by-step example of a phone case design we made.
Click on Background fill and find a color that matches the vibe you’re going for.
We selected this editable Quick Design and chose a background that’d go well with the design.
You can scale, delete, and change the colors and text of all Quick Designs. We deleted all graphic design elements except the artsy background for this case. Cute pet clipart would look great here.
We found the perfect clipart and adjusted the background color to fit the design. It’s looking good already, but something’s missing…
This kitty’s got to have a name! You can choose a text font and play around with the arc, outline, and shadow tools to add some playfulness. The paw clipart is the final touch, and this phone case is ready to go.
If you want to learn more about what the Design Maker can do, read our article on 10 Things You Didn’t Know Printful’s Design Maker Could Do.
Phone cases are a popular accessory, and most smartphone owners will want one for protection, fashion, or a bit of both. With Printful, you can offer phone cases with your custom designs, or create a one-off case for yourself. And don’t forget to use our guidelines and tips when creating your designs, and order samples to test that your cases come out the way you want.
This article was originally published in April 2016; it has since been updated.
Nora has been part of the Printful team since 2015. She has spent the last several years writing content, coordinating communications projects, and helping customers learn about ecommerce. Now as Printful's Brand Manager, she gets to use her experience and knowledge in new and challenging ways.
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