DIY Plywood Photo Backdrops

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Introduction: DIY Plywood Photo Backdrops

About: Creative Design Enthusiast

I love sharing pictures of my projects but always struggled to make them look aesthetically appealing. Still a lot to learn when it comes to photography and lighting. But one of the important features that ties up a picture is the background. There are plenty of beautiful backdrops and photo flat lays available or sale online but some are expensive. So I decided to make my own using plywood sheets and see if I can create some textured surfaces.

In this instructable, I am going share how to make your own photo backdrops/flat lays with easily available inexpensive materials. I have shared two backdrops that I made:

  • Black Slate Finish Backdrop - This would go well with almost everything you put on it.
  • Ocean Blue Backdrop - This will enhance objects with a pop of color

Step 1: Supplies

Materials needed

  1. 1/2" Sanded Plywood - 4' x 2'
    • Surface - I used plywood as are they are easily available and sometimes if you’re lucky, you can find them on sale at at Home Depot. Certain unbranded non-sanded plywood come at much cheaper price and can be smoothened by using a sanding paper.
    • Size - I used a 4' x 2' that allows for lot of room for placing objects. But a 2' x 2' would work just fine.
    • Thickness - An 1/2" inch plywood is a bit more sturdier specially if it’s a 2' x 4' board. For smaller board, 1/4" shouldn't be a problem. It'll be much easier to carry and store.
  2. All Purpose Joint Compound - This is also available a any home improvement store. This is optional but I used it to to create textures.
  3. Joint Knife (Spatula)
  4. Sanding Paper 80 Grit
  5. Foam Roller
  6. House Paint - Flat Sheen (I used Behr - Black, Mammoth Mountain and White)
    • Hope Depot sells sample size paints ( 8 oz.), most common color is shades of white/grey. But they also offer to make you a sample of any paint shade and they cost about $4 roughly. Be sure to chose a Flat Sheen as this will prevent creating glossy surface. We want matte surface that absorb light and not reflect it back
  7. Protective Spray Enamel Clear - Matte
  8. 1 1/2" Rough Surface Brush Sponge varieties (Sea Sponge, Foam, Daubers)
  9. Foam Cups
  10. Plastic Spoons
  11. Water
  12. Drop Cloth

Step 2: Black Slate Finish Backdrop

This board took 2 days to complete.

Day 1

  1. The first step was to spread compound mixture onto the plywood board to create texture. I used the compound knife (spatula) and try to apply thin layers of the mix spreading it as much as I can. Initially I added too much of the compound mix and had to scrape it off.
  2. Once I was able to cover most of the plywood board with the joint compound mix, I decided to go diagonal. I held the knife by its end and gently glided over creating diagonal strokes. The goal is to not over do it and create free lines and grooves.
  3. I let the plywood board dry for 24 hours.

Day 2

  1. Some of the compound mix solidified along the sides and back of the plywood board. I smoothened it out by using a 80 grit sand paper.
  2. Using a foam roller, I applied Black paint all over the plywood board. I used Home Paint, Flat Sheen. A chalk board paint or flat/matte black spray paint can also be used.
  3. Once the first coat dried, I applied another coat. I was happy to see that the slate finish texture started to appear.
  4. Finally, I sprayed a clear matte protective enamel coat. This step is optional but helps prevent stains or oil getting onto to the plywood board from accidental food spillage.

Step 3: Ocean Blue Backdrop

This backdrop took less than an hour to complete. I did not using the joint compound mix this time and created textures simply using sponges and paint.

Steps

  1. Using a 1 1/2" brush, I applied a base blue color all over the plywood board. I used the Shade - Mammoth Mountain in flat Sheen. As this is the base color, I went ahead and diluted with water to help spread it easily.
  2. While the blue paint was still wet, using a foam wedge, I added some strokes of White Color. This was also a home paint in flat sheen I did not dilute this time. Using the foam, I blended the base blue layer with white.
  3. In a foam cup, I mixed some white and black flat sheen home paint to create my own shade of grey. Using s sea sponge, I dabbed the grey paint all over the board.
  4. Tip: I ripped the sea sponge to expose more uneven area. Then I dipped the sea sponge and squeezed excess water. Using this wet sponge, I picked some grey paint and dabbed it, that way it was not too concentrated. The wet sponge helps pick excess paint away from the plywood board
  5. Lastly I used another foam wedge and dipped it in water. I dabbed some matte acrylic paint in dark blue shade onto the plywood board, filling gaps as needed. I was happy how the base blue cover was still hidden but help create texture with overlaying specks of white, grey and dark blue.
  6. Finally, I sprayed a clear matte protective enamel coat. This step is optional but helps prevent stains or oil getting onto to the plywood board from accidental food spillage.

Step 4: Photography

I really enjoyed creating these backdrops and the most exciting part was to use them in photography. It is best to place these plywood backdrops near a bright window with Natural light and try different angles/placement of the subject as it appeals to your eye.

I took some photos outdoors on a cold cloudy day and was quite pleased with it. I will definitely create these backdrops in different colors and different textures, the possibilities are endless.

Thank you for checking out this instructable and if you try it, please do share :) I am entering this project for the plywood contest, please give it a vote if you like it.

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    19 Comments

    0
    Little Lightning Bug
    Little Lightning Bug

    8 months ago

    Nice, someday I might need to make this because I struggle with backgrounds a lot!

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 8 months ago

    Same here. It was a fun project :)

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    Tip 12 months ago

    Have you considered making texture using an old paintbrush? I have had to do minor repairs on texture ceilings and just used an old paintbrush to create similar texture lines. You might be able to do the same to get more depth if you wanted.

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 12 months ago

    Thank you for such a great tip. I've been literally scrambling around for materials that I use and create textures with. Too bad, I threw way my old brushes. Feel silly now. But I will keep them from now on.

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    Reply 11 months ago

    There's always the dollar store for cheap brushes. I generally only buy high quality brushed for actual painting, but for a buck or two in a pinch isn't a big deal.

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    Reply 10 months ago

    I actually made a shadow box setup for pictures of small projects after seeing this. I used some scrap OSB board and sprayed it white, has its own built in texture. It was old floorboards or something from an old project.

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thats great. Share a picture if you can :)

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    Reply 10 months ago

    Here's a couple pictures

    20210112_164509.jpg20210112_164545.jpg
    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 10 months ago

    ah thats so cool. Letting the natural texture do its job :)

    0
    FourColorTheorem
    FourColorTheorem

    12 months ago

    Nicely done, Ms. Kumar!
    This question is for anyone who reads her post.
    I would like to make photo backdrop with both a vertical backdrop and a horizontal surface. Plywood would be rigid enough for the the vertical part but I need to figure out how to make a smooth curved transition to the horizontal part. I could use cardboard but that would likely get creased in storage. Four feet tall would be fine and plywood wouldn't sag like paper or cardboard.

    0
    Sewphia_Makes
    Sewphia_Makes

    Reply 12 months ago

    Maybe try cutting a live hinge? I'm not sure if you have seen them before, its a way to cut plywood to make it still flexible and you can paint over it. (attaching picture) If you don't have access to a lasercutter, a sheet of painted silicone (like a silicone crafters mat or silicone caulk)/EVA foam etc. would allow for a flexible hinge.

    56a4e910a5b7c18d85b9d8c290d11ae1.jpg
    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 12 months ago

    That looks seamless, great idea !!

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 12 months ago

    Thank you for your kind words. To your idea of having a curved backdrop, fabric or cardboard crease would be too frustrating. I have shared a video link here -
    It can be brittle but if done carefully, you can attach a long Masonite board to the ends of the 4 feet tall vertical carboard and let it curve at the bottom and attach it again at the ends of the the horizontal plywood board. I drew you a rough idea, see pic atatched. Or you can just use a small Masonite board, just enough to create the curve and the use joint compound to smoothen it with plywood. Downside for this can be storage.

    Curved Board.jpg
    0
    RandallO4
    RandallO4

    Question 12 months ago on Step 4

    I would like to know more about where the background meets the photograph...in the finished product I see the plywood with background and photographic images but I would like to know how the photo is made and how it gets on the background. Is it a rectangular print on the surface? Is it cut out so only key image shows on top of the background? Thanks for the help. These are beautiful displays.

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Answer 12 months ago

    Hi Randall, I used 4' x 2' plywood. Once I was done with creating the desired texture, I used the plywood as a flat lay, meaning I lay the plywood flat on a large table. I placed my food on top and took pictures from a top angle and some from the sides. See picture attached, hope it helps giving you an idea.

    Once I was done with taking pictures, focusing on the food and aesthetics, I cropped the images using a simple editor tool.

    You can also use these board and stand them up and use a backgrounds. I plan on creating more boards with same texture/color so I can use them both horizontally and vertically to create seamless background.

    IMG_7981.jpg
    0
    RandallO4
    RandallO4

    Answer 12 months ago

    It occurred to me after that maybe these are not poster sized as I thought and that the decorated plywood is, as you say, a backdrop/background for taking the photograph..:)

    0
    Vinniegret.
    Vinniegret.

    12 months ago on Step 4

    Did you consider using modelling paste (from the art store) for your texturizer? It looks like your joint compound did fine, but modelling paste is made specifically for textures under paint. I think you could make a thicker layer with it. Just an idea.

    0
    Karishma Kumar
    Karishma Kumar

    Reply 12 months ago

    Thank you for the great tip. That might really help, as you cant layer a lot of joint compund.