So this was a cool and simple project.  I've been thinking of things to do involving left over Mod Podge.  While restringing my guitar, I took a close look at the pick guard.  The scratches, wear, ...signs of actually being played; I wanted to clean this up.  Since I've been printing a lot of pictures lately, it was a no-brainer.  Think of an image to apply and make this project happen.

It didn't take long to hit a snag, especially since this was new to me.  I have an image, but I want to crop the image and size the image before I click print.  WTF?  If only I had a template for the style pick guard on my Telecaster.

ME:  "Internet.  Find me pick guard templates."

INTERNET:  "Found them all."

If you want, here is a link to the American Standard Telecaster pick guard template.

If the cut photo looks good and fits nicely over the actual pick guard, you may proceed.  An effect I added on my photo was to create a unique border by burning the edges.  (Of course you can skip this step and go straight to gluing the photo...if you want.)  Do this step OUTSIDE and be careful.  The HP photo paper I used burned slowly enough so I could easily control the amount of burn, working my way around the perimeter as well as the cut-outs for the pickups.  Once finished, wiping the debris from the photo is optional.  In my project, extra texture the ash made while gluing was adding to the theme.

Once the photo is no longer going to move, apply thin coats of Mod Podge over the entire photo.  Try to keep the brush strokes in the same direction, alternating each layer.  Mod Podge takes only moments to dry enough before additional coats can be applied.  For those seeking a smoother feel, you will need to wet sand coats applied.  Refer to the instructions on the Mod Podge bottle...I performed no sanding myself.

Using the template along with GIMP 2, I was able to size / crop the image on the computer system to my liking.  Once ready, printed and cut the paper following the template lines.  The result was a photo in the form of the pick guard.  FYI...the pick guard template was a 1-ply version.  My pick guard is the 3-ply.  The beveled edges affect the template sizing.  While editing the photo, scale your perimeter accordingly, leaving the cutouts in the original position.  

Gluing the photo to the pick guard is pretty straight forward.  Using Mod Podge, I applied a layer to the back of the photo.  Be generous enough and cover the entire back...evenly.  Once the glue is applied, align the photo on top of the pick guard and press firmly to adhere the glue.  As you apply the photo, be sure to flatten the photo and work to prevent air pockets.  (Note...burning the edges will curl the paper, making it hared to glue flat.  I wasn't concerned with this here as it looks cool.)

Once the glue was completely dry, I used a black paint marker to fill in the white areas of the pick guard that was not covered by the photo.  I just colored in the areas so it would blend more into the guitar body.  Totally optional.

Finally, I applied a few spray coats of the Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer over the top and sides of the pick guard.  Once dry, I screwed the pick guard to the guitar and looked it over.  New strings, black knobs, Seymour Duncan Hot Rails, and now a triceratops?  It now looks as it sounds...WTF?!?!  =]