The iPhone includes many still and dynamic wallpapers, but you can create custom backgrounds using your phone or a computer. Options available from the Settings menu permit you to choose wallpapers from Camera Roll and other albums such as My Panoramas, which contains 240-degree photos taken with your iPhone's camera. Images larger than the iPhone's screen automatically use the parallax effect built into iOS, subtly moving your wallpaper behind the stationary home screen icons as you rotate your phone.
Open an image editor and use the app to design a background using pictures or textures downloaded from a site such as Flickr, Imgur or CG Textures (links in Resources). Windows includes Paint, but you may have access to Adobe Photoshop or its open-source counterpart, GIMP. Though the iPhone's screen is small, it offers a relatively generous resolution of 640 by 1,136 pixels, so choose an image at least this size. For an ideal parallax effect, add 200 pixels to each side of the image for a resolution of 1,040 by 1,536 pixels. The iPhone is compatible with most image formats, including JPEG, PNG, TIFF and GIF.
Launch your image editor and press “Ctrl-O” to open your image. Choose the “Rectangle Selection” tool from the toolbar. Every image editor includes this basic feature, although its location varies between programs. Drag a rectangular selection over a section of the image you want to use as a background, and then click “Crop” to remove the unselected area. Hold down the “Shift” key and press “Ctrl-S” to save the cropped image as a new file. Name the file and choose a folder, such as the one with which you sync photos in iTunes.
Snap a regular or panoramic photo with your iPhone's camera. When setting up your shot, consider how the background will look when rotating behind your home screen icons. Photos with a sense of distance can emphasize this feature, but close-up photos also work. Take a panoramic shot by tapping “Options” in the Camera program and choosing “Panorama.” The screen displays an arrow to guide you while taking the picture. Tap the “Capture” button to start taking the picture, then move your phone in the arrow's direction, keeping the arrow in the center of the screen. Tap “Done” to save the picture.
Create wallpapers with a free iPhone program such as Wallpaper Maker DIY, Doodle Dandy or Hypstr (links in Resources). These programs are available from the App Store on your device or iTunes on your computer. Creating wallpaper with these programs is simple as they guide you through the process of tracing geometric patterns over your phone's screen and adding text or flourishes. When you finish designing a background, tap “Save” or “Download,” depending on the program you use. The image is stored in your Camera Roll album.
Set your wallpaper. Tap “Settings,” choose “Wallpaper and Brightness” and select “Choose Wallpaper.” Tap “Camera Roll,” “My Panoramas” or another album containing the image you want to use. Select an image from the album and choose “Home Screen” or “Lock Screen” to assign the background to a screen. To assign the image to your home screen and lock screen, repeat this step, choosing “Home Screen” first and “Lock Screen” next.
Information in this article applies to iOS 7. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
If you don't want to start a wallpaper design from scratch, download a free iPhone wallpaper from a site such as All iPhone Wallpapers, iDesign iPhone or iPhoneWalls (links in Resources). Use this wallpaper as a starting point and personalize it with text or a transparent overlay using your image editor.