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Photography DiscussionHas anyone attempted a DIY painted backdrop?

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Duck
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Has anyone attempted a DIY painted backdrop?

Post by Duck » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:18 am

Yes, I know that there are plenty of inexpensive backdrops available that painting your own isn't a requirement anymore. The artist in me, the same one that enjoys DIY projects for no other reason than to create for the joy of creating, is whispering in my ear to try my hand at painting a custom backdrop. I have three large pieces of cloth to experiment on but I don't want to frivolously waste my time, energy, money or resources experimenting without some measurable results. So I am looking for advice, hints, warnings or anything that will help minimize the failure rate.

I have watched plenty of YouTube videos and, coupled with my art knowledge, feel I can do a fairly decent job. Any guidance, however, will be greatly appreciated. Please share your experience here.
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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Mon Apr 22, 2019 4:53 pm

I've never tired myself, no room and what a mess. If I was going to paint my own I'd keep it simple and would want it to be in a classic style. Have you heard of David Maheu? One of the best in the industry.

http://www.backgroundsbymaheu.com/
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Post by Duck » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:40 pm

Thanks Ernst, I'm used to the mess of artistic endeavors :) and don't mind putting in the work (mostly) ;)

I've never heard of David Maheu so I appreciate the link. Thanks.
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Post by Steven G Webb » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:33 pm

I tried it once back in the 1980s when I was young and ambitious. If I recall the widest primed canvas I could find was 4' and I believe this project was 7' tall with the idea of it being 4X6. I bought tubes of oils, a few different shaped brushes and sponges. I was not a paint artist so I had to buy lots of stuff. I also bought a smaller canvas board to experiment with. It was supposed to be an Old Masters style with a hot spot in the middle. If I knew then what I know now...

It was grand failure.
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Post by Duck » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:50 am

Oils, eh? Ooph, that's rough. I bet it took forever to dry. :D

I am looking to create an old master's style backdrop. I'm going to use cheap linen to experiment with and once I'm comfortable with a workable technique I'll invest in some heavier canvas. I can get canvas up to 120 inches wide primed. I'm not looking to go that big, maybe 5x7. I'm also going to be using acrylic paints as they dry faster and are much cheaper to buy. I just have to wait for better weather as I'll probably have to paint it outside in my driveway. :(
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Post by Steven G Webb » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:10 am

Duck wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:50 am
Oils, eh? Ooph, that's rough. I bet it took forever to dry. :D

I am looking to create an old master's style backdrop. I'm going to use cheap linen to experiment with and once I'm comfortable with a workable technique I'll invest in some heavier canvas. I can get canvas up to 120 inches wide primed. I'm not looking to go that big, maybe 5x7. I'm also going to be using acrylic paints as they dry faster and are much cheaper to buy. I just have to wait for better weather as I'll probably have to paint it outside in my driveway. :(
Yes the oils took time to dry. I picked oil for it's flexibility, not saying I knew what I was thinking but I thought layers of oil would stay more flexible than acrylics that I thought would not bind to the substrate as tightly as to each other and would peel off. In retrospect, acrylic would have probably been the better choice.

I wish I'd known more about the technique of painting. If I recall correctly, I should have marked off the oval for the hot spot and worked outward from it's center adding darker layers/colors as the boundary spread out from there.
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Post by minniev » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:01 pm

Since i don't have a studio or anything similar, and don't do any portraits, the answer of course is NO, I have never. But it is an interesting concept that I can perhaps engage my first grader artist-wanna-be in, provided I can acquire a reasonable piece of something to put it on. I've found some cast off materials in various nooks and crannies around the farm, as the prior owner dabbled in oils. Frivolous waste of time is the calling card of the 6 year old artist. Please, if you do undertake this, share your result. I'm sure you'd be successful since you have such a strong foundation in traditional art, and you know exactly what works for photographic portraits.
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Post by Duck » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:06 pm

Thanks guys, I'll definitely keep you posted.
It's been non stop rain this past week and a half but at least the temperature has been pleasant.
In the meantime I've been doing some repair and organizing around the studio. I just rebuilt a scrim frame out of metal as my older DIY PVC pipe one has started breaking apart. One down and one more to go.
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Post by Duck » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:16 am

I don't know if I mentioned it but two weeks ago I created a small tabletop textured background. I needed something dark with texture as all my dark stuff is fairly smooth. This particular background is 2' x 4' luan with the other side stained a dark brown to keep the wood grain on the better side of the plywood. Here are images of the results from a shoot I did for stock.
DIY Textured BG.jpg
Closeup of the texture and color
DIY Textured BG in use.jpg
The DIY textured background in use
Unitas_Photography-4244.jpg
Finished image using the DIY textured background
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Post by Steven G Webb » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:34 am

Interesting image and good job making a complimentary background.
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