yer basic badass black


  • One computer case, any color, but beige is the most needy
  • One can (large) flat black spray paint (for those of you in the U.S., Krylon Flat Black Enamel is good)
  • One plastic paint can 'gun handle' adapter. $2.49 at Home Depot. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I managed to paint an entire case and all its components without getting a single drop of paint on me or (get this) on the rim of the spraycan. Truly, a gift from God.
  • Patience

First remove all components from the case. Then remove all plastic from the metal chassis. Usually this means removing the sides (or top if one-piece) and then removing the plastic faceplate. Then remove all buttons, switches, LEDs, etc. from the faceplate itself.

Lay all components out on some nice disposable newspaper. I used the Wall Street Journal. I recommend giving the components a bit of sandpaper if they are smooth; if they have the slightly dimpled or rough finish common, they're OK. Definitely wipe them down with denatured alcoholor the like to remove grease, swudge, etc.

Using the gun adapter, (really) give each piece a coat of paint. Allow to dry. Repeat 4 times.

Wait 4 hours, then reassamble. Voilà! I've found this finish to resist nails, oils, alcohol, fingerprints, dropped screwdrivers and ferret licking (don't ask). For best results, you can add any of the following touches:

Be creative! Help your computer stand out in a drab, beige world...or, of course, buy a Mac. But I'm not getting into that.

Advanced technique

Try this. Remove all keycaps from your favorite keyboard. Disassemble the case. Spraypaint the case and keycaps black (or whatever, but black is nicest for this one, IMHO) and reassemble. It may help to mark the underside of the key caps as you remove them. :-) Then use a gold or silver paint pen and draw likely-looking but cool and meaningless symbols on the keys. Think of the display screens the Empire used in the Star Wars movies, or go crazy.

Note: You should be a touch-typist for this to work.

Allow to dry. Woohoo! anyone that comes over should produce at least a doubletake. Besides, it'll make it less likely your siblings/roommates/ferrets/whoever will use the machine while you're gone.

Computers should have been black, just like all audiovisual equipment today. How they ended up beige is an evolutionary aberration.

Before going any further, I must give honorable mention to Silicon Graphics for coming up with cool case designs nine times out of ten, long before the iMac came out.

What I'd like to see, though, to end the reign of beige through pure excess, is hotrod-style computers. Stylized flames, painted-on mouths full of sharp teeth, aerodynamic shapes and, most of all, chromed exhaust pipes running up the sides. But whatever you do, do not -- I repeat: do not -- call them "extreme" computers (or X-treme, or whatever the cool spelling is right now).

A recent trend is not to use spray paint, but vinyl dye, available at most auto parts stores.

It goes on just like spray paint, needs almost no prepping, will not chip, and will not cost an arm and a leg. After seeing the finished effect, it's hard to believe it's not the original color of the plastic.

As for disadvantages, it won't work on metal, and it has very strong fumes. Make sure you do this outside.
My first attempt to paint my computer involved several coats of spray enamel. However, this soon chipped, scratched and generally looked shabby, so I came up with a better idea.

I bought two sheets of holographic blue paper from Paperchase (the coolest shop on earth) and stuck that to my computer, now I have a shiny holographic effect on my case which will not chip or peel and is quicker, easier and less messy that spray paint. Also if you get bored of it you can easily peel it off and do something else.

I just recently started to experiment with painting my treasure (read: computer). There are several steps in this endeavor, and my crusade was long in duration.

  • STEP 1: Get spray enamel -This was the first barrier I had to break through, as I forgot that my local hardware store (by the name of "Doody", and in my opinion, rightfully so) did not sell spray paint to minors, so my good friend and companion dragonmonkey walked back home, discouraged, but infused with a new sense of purpose after seeing the wide selection of Krylon® products.
  • STEP 1: Get spray enamel(again) -: Luckily, however, my father was at Doody later that day on his own agenda, and my mom, who was with him, called me on her cell. I rejoiced at the aqcuisition of my new spray paint. Wait a second. I asked for spray enamel. SHIT..
  • STEP 2: Test paint - Now, I didn't just spray the stuff on. I'm not THAT stupid. I tested it on some plastic...thing. It looked good, and I liked the texture, regardless of it not being the correct type of paint. Good.
  • STEP 3: Prepare surface - Once more, patience and information proved to be a virtue and a boon. As per the previous writeups here, I carefully removed the keys on my keyboard with a flathead screwdriver. My keyboard was quite dirty under the keys, so I took the opportunity to clean it. I did not want to do all of the keys, so I just took off all 26 letters of the alphabet. After a quick rinse, wipe, and drying, I got out a pair of garbage bags and went into my backyard to complete my procedure.
  • STEP 4: Spray - The preparations complete, I was standing on my rear patio, shaking the spray can, the keys layed out on the garbage bags, the New York City dusk to my rear, ready to complete that which I had been wanting to do for the past two days. This is it, I said to myself. The wind was right. The can was shaken. I removed the cap as per the instructions, shook it a little for good measure, and sprayed. Back and forth, trying to get the angles, seeing the keys covered with the black liquid, was almost too much for my mind to handle. Almost.
  • STEP 5: Let dry - The suspense. The agony. The...timer rang, and I returned to the keys to claim my prize. AT LAST my keys were complete. The letters were not visible at all. But they were stuck to the bag. Fuck.
  • STEP 6: Prepare to reattach keys - After removing the keys from the bag, I filed off the remaining paint on the undersides, and prepared to reattach them. One thing I noted was that SOME OF THEM WERE SHAPED DIFFERENT. After about 30 minutes of experimentation, however, I managed to get the keys onto the keyboard correctly, and took my prize to my room to reconnect it to my box.


They keys smelled, however, like acetone, or spray paint.Fuck.

Later on, I tried painting the side panel of my box, and used masking tape to make designs. Let's just say nothing ever turns out perfectly.

After painting my computer's case with a cheap spray paint, it looked great. It was a nifty black machine of doom! Unfortunately, the paint soon began to chip off. I can easily remove it with my fingernail (or any other rigid object). The reason for this, so I believe, is that the case was not only painted, but also waxed at the factory.

Thus, unless the case is bare plastic (like that on my old Zenith Data Systems 8088, or the Dell I'm typing this on now), one should sand the existing surface. It probably isn't necessary to sand to bare metal, just enough to cut away the wax. Alternately, you could sand it bare, use a primer made for use on metal, and paint from there.

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