starbucks cup 2014Having little (constructive) to do this weekend, I decided to update my Starbucks photo cup.

A Starbucks photo cup is a reusable cup which has an outer clear plastic body, and an inner layer that holds the drink, giving you space to slip art or photos in-between.  You simply unscrew the bottom of the cup, slip your art between the layers, and screw the bottom back on.  Very simple, very easy.  And I did mention “reusable,” right?  Better for the environment than using and throwing away plastic cups every day.

Some people like to slip in a picture of their kids or friends, or something of their favorite hobby or interest, a cool pic they took on last vacation, etc.  I like the hobby bit; but I like to really make it kick.

So I work with photo manipulation software, a scanner and a color printer.  A Starbucks photo cup comes with an insert that fits in the cup.  Start by taking that insert out and scanning it to upload into your photo manipulation software.  (I work in Photoshop, but any similar software will do.)  Once uploaded, you have a shape to use as the template in which to put your art.  I leave the background around the template as white, and usually select a background color for the template itself.

I save a lot of pictures of science- and sci-fi-related stuff, giving me tons of images to work with.  If you don’t already have this, get online and start searching for and downloading photos of stuff you’re interested in.  Upload each one to your photo software, and start loading them into the template shape.  You can mix and match, change sizes and orientations, clip out backgrounds, arrange them in clever montages, anything you want.

starbucks cup template 2014
The finished image. Like this one? Save the full-sized image and print it for yourself!

When you’re done, send that bad boy to the color printer. Print your image at 100% size, just like you scanned it, and it should fit your cup perfectly.  I recommend using glossy photo paper in the printer: It will not only give your art a snazzy look, but the paper is more durable than regular paper or card stock, allowing it to stand up better to the temperature variations, occasional humidity-driven moisture changes and direct sunlight that a reusable cup will inevitably suffer.

Print your template, then use a scissors or hobby knife to cut the template shape (having a white background against the color of your art makes this easy).  Then remove the cup bottom and slide the image inside, using the tab at the bottom to push it into place.

Et violà!  A custom-made, right-snazzy Starbucks cup that you can take anywhere and really show off your interests!  And not just Starbucks; a lot of places will honor your request to put their drink into your cup.  Sometimes I create templates of my novel covers, to give me a convenient ad product to show off and talk about.  (You could always print out the one above and show it off, telling everyone about the great author who created it—and who, incidentally, would love it if you checked out his books!  Just sayin’.)

Now that you’re properly accessorized, get out to your favorite cafe and knock ’em dead!

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