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Beautiful Examples of Transparent Screen Trick Photos


Two weeks ago we published a showcase of beautiful pinhole photography1, and this weekend again we’ve got something unusual and creative to lift up your spirits and challenge your creativity. Illusions can be eye-catching and attractive and when you apply them to computer displays, the results can be quite interesting and deceptive.

Take transparent screen trick photos, for example. The idea is simple: you take a photo of your surroundings and set this photo as your desktop wallpaper. Once the display is positioned precisely, the transparent screen trick is achieved. Simple, but what can you do with this simple idea?

Below we present a short selection of some original transparent screen trick photos. The environments presented in these photos appear to have a completely transparent screen which creates an optical illusion. We also feature step-by-step-tutorials in the end of this post: and here you go — now you have something fun to do over the weekend!

Transparent Screen Trick Photos Link

Strobist Lighting2


6/365 Clear Screen4

6/365 Clear Screen5





First Attempt10

First Attempt11

I WIN!!!! alternative 10/36512


Transparent screen 314

Transparent screen 315

Transparent screen. [177/365]16

Transparent screen. [177/365]17



Transparent Screen 620

Transparent Screen 621

Transparent Screen 122

Transparent Screen 123

Transparent Screen Experiment24

Transparent Screen Experiment25

Transparent Screen 526

Transparent Screen 527

My Transparent Screen!28

My Transparent Screen!29

Transparent screen 330

Transparent screen 331

Transparent Screen32

Transparent Screen33

transparent screen34

transparent screen35

Transparent Screen36


Transparent Screen – Tristan38

Transparent Screen - Tristan39

transparent screen40

transparent screen41



Transparent screen44

Transparent screen45

Transparent iBook46

Transparent iBook47

My transparent screen48

My transparent screen49

Transparent Laptop Screen50

Transparent Laptop Screen51



Transparent Screen First Try54

Transparent Screen First Try55

Transparent Tablet56


See-thru laptops!58


Caffè a computer60




Transparent Screen64


iPod touch66


Transparent Screen 268


Added a laptop70


Transparent Screen Laptop72


Transparent laptop74


Standing on Chair76




Play Desktop With Me?80


My transparent macbook82




Transparent Screen Tutorials and Resources Link

Just for Fun – Transparent Laptop Tutorial86
This project involves taking three different pictures. The first two will be taken at the same time, and the last will be taken after some editing. It is very important that you do not move your computer or tripod during the whole process.


Transparent TFT Screen Tutorial88
Learn how to create a transparent looking tft screen by combine smart photographing with some easy photoshop tricks. You will need a camera tripod and of course a digital camera to do this.


Transparent Screens Flickr Group90
A huge and growing gallery of photos with the transparent screen trick effect.


Footnotes Link

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Aquil Akhter is a web graphic designer and has been working in this field for 8 years. He also runs the blog, which focuses on free web resources and inspiration for designers and developers.

  1. 1

    This is fantastic.. There are a few new ones here and they are very impressive… My weekend is booked :D

    Actually, SONY and SAMSUNG are working on creating a transparent film LCD Screen.. so withing a few years, this might become a reality. Until then, Photoshop is GOD! (^_^)

    Thanks for the links to the tutorials.. Doing this has to be fun!

    • 2

      Transparent film LCD will be awesome. The windows will seems floating on air and interact with the surroundings.

  2. 3

    that’s an awesome idea..i’m gonna make one right now!

  3. 4

    I think calling these “beautiful” is a bit of a stretch…but I guess its in line with most other throw away blog posts “10 most BEAUTIFUL ecommerce layouts,” “101 STUNNING examples of twitter icons,” and so on.

    Also, while I’m being a curmudgeon…notice that most of the computers in the photos are a few years old. We had all hoped this trend was played out.

    • 5

      Andrew, please go over Smashing articles published over the last months and count how many lists-posts we published. And then please calculate the percentage of list posts against in-depth articles. Smashing Magazine isn’t about lists any longer; and it hasn’t been for 1.5 years now. The magazine has had quite a development. Please acknowledge that.

      • 6

        Vitaly, thank you for your vigorous response, however I don’t think I made myself as clear as I could have. I was reacting against the use of the word “beautiful” (and its good friend “stunning”) that has become so ubiquitous in the titles of posts related to web design on your site and others.

        Yes, you are right, Smashing provides a much higher percentage of content rich articles than other sites, that’s why I subscribe. Thank you! However, I am getting sick of the repetitive title hyperbole here and elsewhere.

        • 7

          Vitaly Friedman

          August 8, 2010 4:19 am

          Oh, I understand, Andrew. You make a solid point. I’ll note it for the future articles. Thank you.

          • 8

            Its not so much on this site, as you say Vitaly, your magazine content is genuinely out there, far and above, the majority of internet content.
            I also however dislike the use of the words:
            amazing, beautiful, stunning, astonishing etc etc before a lists. Why are they so over-used on list titles?……

            Its similar to when everyone started to use “L@@K” on ebay listings. All that produced was a listing that blended in with everyone elses….

            Words should be powerful things and used with care. Overuse of words like these seem to be common place on the web.

          • 9

            Hey guys,

            I guess we all have our nit picks / things that make us uptight etc..

            However, i would like to point out that regardless of whether the words stunning, beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, guapa, bonita, fit and all of the above are given in a title, we all took the time to actually read this article which is a good article like most of the articles on Smashing.

            Actually sometimes those word’s help engage people to check it out so why do people always say about something that is not really relevant to the actual article content and nit pick at a title instead or the computers are too old etc. I have noticed it a lot on forums / blogs and articles lately.

            It is like they have nothing better to do or say.


        • 10

          Hmm I know how to do it first get 2 things that can take pics ( do not move it ) then take the over what ever and take the pic for poof now you done it ;)make sure to follow ALL THE STEPS

  4. 11

    Agree with Andrew. The only one that I really like is the one with the dog painting, because it’s the only one that makes sense both when stationary as well as on the go.

  5. 12

    the one with girl is BEAUTIFUL lol

  6. 13

    Everson Vargas da Luz

    August 7, 2010 11:34 am


  7. 14

    A few are manipulated….

    • 15

      I’m guessing that the one with the racing track running through it is just a hollow screen. I was not impressed by it at all. Notice that the effect isn’t quite the same when there are no desktop icons present.

  8. 16

    Nice Idea!

  9. 17

    Those pictures are really nice even though some are faked.

    • 18

      LOVE your articles, Aquil! I see these as great inspiration in a thought process. The race track, coffee pouring, iPhone on the table, legs from the laptop and hand holding iphone (not to mention some others) are unique and great creative thoughts. Many are just an insert into an everyday scene and the variance of ideas is a great lesson on taking the creative thought to the next level.

  10. 19

    This is wonderful!! I’ll sure do that when I have a fixed home!

  11. 20


    No, for real, I always enjoy when people come up with ideas like that. Photoshop Users like us are, of course, not going to fall from their chairs, but to non-geeks this is like “magic.”

  12. 21

    These are really cool! I want to make one now.

  13. 22

    Some of these are legit and interesting.

    Sadly, the first one, amongst a few others are faked: the image that appears to be on the screen was not on the screen during the time of capture, but Photoshoped in afterwards. The giveaway is the screen’s reflection on the keyboard surrounds shows the screen as being dark or off, rather than reflecting the screen’s image.

    • 23

      You should visit the flickr page of the first image. The cutout effect wasn’t necessarily the point of the photo. The photographer was experimenting how to light the room to match the background to the laptop screen. There are several shots in the series.

      • 24

        Indeed, but the point of the article was to show examples of these images where:

        “The idea is simple: you take a photo of your surroundings and set this photo as your desktop wallpaper. Once the display is positioned precisely, the transparent screen trick is achieved”

        Part of the art of these things is surely the work to physically position the screen correctly. If it’s purely photoshopped, then that aspect is missing.

        • 25

          @wozza, my point was that the photo in question was not photoshopped because the photographer wasn’t trying to just get the transparent screen effect, but was trying to get the right exposure to match the screen. If it was just photoshop, fiddling with the exposure is pointless.

          My actual but subtle point was to not criticize people’s work out of hand. Maybe you can’t believe their results because they are more talented that you. Click the image and take it in context first. Then if it is shopped, call them out for who they are: talented fakers that are producing stuff in Photoshop instead of reading blogs about people producing stuff in Photoshop :)

          Also, if the exposure is perfectly matched so the light coming off the screen was the same as the light of the room, I am not sure the screen would illuminate the keyboard.

  14. 26

    Nice works~

    it’s looks real. lol

    BTW, you don’t need to make a ‘Fake’ one anymore.

    Check this out. (It’s Korean article, Just play the Video clip. ;D)

  15. 27

    Wow. I’ve never seen this before. Great post!

  16. 28

    All the great and most creative people use the MAC ;)

    I love my Mac

  17. 31

    Very nice.

    Excellent collection.

  18. 32

    i never seen like this , awesome

  19. 33

    Nice photos, thank you.

  20. 34

    Nice post, but you should really remove the fakes, they detract from it.


  21. 35

    nice Thanks

  22. 36

    I like these so much I’ve just taken the stanley knife to my laptop screen. What did you use to get through the casing?

    Does the screen just pop back into place when you’re done?

    Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  23. 37

    Isn’t the point of this to use clever photography (well not when clever when everyone and his dog can has done it), isn’t using photoshop cheating? Anyone can do that in photoshop.

  24. 38

    Great Pics !
    I must say them Innovative :)

  25. 39

    Haha. Clever tricks.
    The pop-up road is the best!

  26. 40

    Great job, love it,

  27. 41

    WTF I am angry! Why only mac computers?

  28. 43

    Nicely done! Now, of course I’m tempted to do the same!

  29. 44

    nice, but some are very clearly shopped… not so much a ‘screen trick photo’ as a ‘photoshop photomanipulation’.

  30. 45

    Not something I expected SM to post… maybe you’ve been spoiling me but this seems a bit useless :(


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