Introduction: Marble Photography Backdrop

So you're an Instagrammer, blogger, Etsy seller, up-and-coming photographer, or you just want your Instructables photos to look better. You see these fancy marble backgrounds and think, 1. "WHY DOES EVERYONE AND THEIR MOM HAVE MARBLE COUNTER TOPS?!" or 2. "WHO IS STRONG ENOUGH TO CARRY AROUND A MARBLE SLAB JUST FOR THEIR LATTE TO SIT ON?!"

As you've likely guessed, 1. they don't and 2. no one.

It's all a cheap trick. And by cheap trick, I mean super thrifty, practical, light-weight, and looks better than real marble! And guess what? You too can be fancy with some cheap marble contact paper, a foam core board, some clear matte spray, and less than one hour.

For an example of how I have used this faux marble in my own Instructables, check out my pierogi recipe.


Step 1: Cutting Contact Paper

The first step to creating your faux marble photo board is cutting the contact paper down to size. Unroll the paper, grid side up, and place your foam core or plywood on top. You can either cut the exact measurements you need or leave an inch overhang on all sides. Because my foam core board was the same width as the paper, I don't have overhang on the sides but do have overhang on the edges. It's personal preference.

To cut the paper I used a rotary cutter and ruler, but you can just as easily use scissors to cut on the grid lines that are provided.

Step 2: Rolling Out Contact Paper

The next step is the hardest when creating your photo board, so it helps to have an extra pair of hands!

Begin by peeling a few inches of backing paper away from the sticky contact paper and carefully line up the edges until you begin pressing the marble paper onto the board. Start at the edge of one side and continue to unroll the paper while brayering (rolling) out the bubbles.

You could also use a tea towel to push out bubbles. I would refrain from using something hard like a credit card because the contact paper (vinyl), and the foam core behind it, will dent.

After the contact paper is all rolled out and beautiful, you may find a bubble. Don't panic! I first try to use the brayer or whatever flattering device to attempt to flatten the bubble. You just might get lucky and fix it. However, if you can't remove the bubble, you can use a needle to pop it and lay the paper back down.

Step 3: Seaming Contact Paper

Since this board is fairly small (used more for travel purposes), my contact paper could cover the entire board, and I didn't need to seam two pieces of contact paper together. However, on my giant board - even with using the larger sized contact paper (24"x78"), I still had to use two strips of marble paper. While it is kind of obvious in these pictures, I make sure the seam isn't visible in my other pictures.

Easily enough, I laid down one strip of marble paper on the board and then cut out a second piece that would fit the smaller strip. As you can see, I barely had to use any extra at all.

To lay the 2nd piece down, I butted up the paper edge to edge, rather than overlap them, as I didn't want a hump on my board. This is personal preference as well, because you can also overlap the paper a tiny bit. This keeps the seam from widening over time and is easier to lay down, but comes with the risk of being more visible in pictures.

Another trick is to run the contact paper the same direction rather than perpendicular. With the marble pattern it's only a subtle difference, but it blends so much better when the pattern texture has the same orientation.

Step 4: Folding Edges

When folding over the paper in the back, I like to reduce some of the bulk first by cutting the corners off around a 45 degree angle as pictured. Then you can just fold over and brayer to get a good hold. Cutting the corners is extra important if you have overlap on all sides; by trimming the corners no paper will overhang from the back.

Step 5: "De-glossing" the Marble

This is the step that many tutorials miss. You need to "de-shine" your photo board. As you can see, the marble paper you buy for cheap on Amazon is glossy vinyl. Gloss - or anything that catches light in an unflattering way - isn't good for photos. In the first picture you can see that the paper is catching all three of my photo lights. In the second picture, I laid my previously made matte board in the exact same spot and it doesn't catch any light. (The third picture is a side by side comparison).

The best thing I found* to get rid of the ultra shine? Spray the board with a clear matte spray. I gave my board 4-6 coats to get the look I wanted. Follow the can's directions for proper technique and instruction.

*I did actually try a few ways to reduce shine. The worst thing I tried was acetone. Acetone can remove shine in some cases, but in this one it actually completely removed the marble pattern, and I was left with white vinyl. Sanding also did not dull the vinyl.

Step 6: Behind the Scenes

I always think it's important to show the behind-the-scenes photography of Instructable creation, as we are all learning as we go. Some tips on maximizing your versatility with marble boards is having one on the ground (or table) and one in the background. Then put your item as far away from the back board as possible to get a background blur in which you can't see the bottom seam. This is shown in the close-up succulent picture.

Another tip to achieve the coveted background blur is to put your main item on a pedestal. For example, I put the letter board on an empty plastic plant pot to raise it up off of the same level as the - freshly picked - veggies.

Play around with your new marble photo tool and post pictures of your creations!

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