DIY hand-painted photography backdrop

I always wanted to paint my own backdrop for a really custom feel. I
finally got around to it and wanted to share some tips if you plan on
creating one yourself. Quality hand-painted backdrops can cost upwards
of $400 or rentals from places like
can be even more expensive for multiple day rentals. This tutorial will
cost you about $200. I came across 2 other tutorials above all the
others that helped educate me the best:


Let’s start with the materials.


-Large canvas, unprimed is cheaper, I got mine from Blicks Art Supplies
which had a local store to shop at, but the size I wanted had to be
ordered. 96 inches by 6 yards, or 8ft by 18ft; the second time I got 8ft
by 15ft it just depends on how big you want to go. ($82)

-White or Black Gesso Primer 1 gallon ($21)

Paint - 2 quarts for the base color, 1 quart solid, the second quart
will be blended to create a variant but similar color. Highlight color,
don’t need much maybe 16 oz. jar or tube. However the first time you do
it you may want to buy extra in case; blending can be difficult.
Research the color you want and how much to blend; it’s not as easy as
it looks to get the right color. Also be sure to test the color on scrap
canvas before starting to see how it dries and if it changes colors.($9
- 1 quart)

-Latex gloves, I used a lot, you don’t want to mix the colors when you’re running back and forth so grab a box. ($10)

- Roller tray, pack of 10 ($6)

-Roller and roller brushes, 3pack ($16)

-Paint mixing sticks, 10 pack ($1)

-Painters plastic ($20)

-Duct Tape ($4)

TOTAL: Approximately $180-$200

need a large place to set up; If you can do this outdoors without
interference for en entire day that would be best, sunshine also helps
them dry quicker. I did it on a windy day or you can use fans to help
dry. If you can stretch the canvas that would be best. Make sure nothing
is underneath the canvas to create ripples. These are things I learned
the hard way that can cause a headache. I’d also recommend a journal if
you don’t already have one to document what works best for you.

socks or bags on your feet and start with the gesso primer, use about
half the gallon and add about 50-60% water to it, the first coat should
be thin. After drying do the reverse on the second coat, about 30% water
this time for the final coat. Painting or rolling in columns, makes it much
easier to see where you’ve been and don’t try to stretch out the
coatings by using all the paint until the roller is dry. Keep dipping
into the primer when you run low.

Safety first

Primer - White Gesso

After the primer has dried it’s
time for the base coat. Using acrylic paint, you can add a tiny bit of
water but not much, diluting the paint too much won’t work as well (All
these tips came from my brother who was a painting major)

Base coat 50%

Base coat finished

After the base dries you want to start adding the highlights, the first time I did this it was too obvious and I got frustrated:


My brother stepped in and went
back over it with the base color, green. This is the hardest part,
blending in a natural way. Have a bucket of water near by and add water
to the canvas before you apply paint, water is your friend that helps
spread the paint in a less obvious pattern. When adding highlights and
shadows to the base color you want to add very little paint from either
and blend them together at the same time.




blending final

Patience is key here. If you get frustrated take a breather, and come back to it; you can always add water and continue again.For
the final steps I took a container of water and added a very small
amount or paint, a quarter size maybe, and loosely flicked it onto the
canvas; less paint the more the water will dissipate. Do this for both
the highlight color and the darker color and then very lightly go over
these flicks with a roller again to blend them, do multiple layers for
your desired look. The most important factor is BLEND, BLEND, BLEND, if
you want a smooth transition so take your time. If you want something
with a little more obvious pattern that’s your call. Good luck, THPHOTO

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