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  1. #1
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    How To Create Your Own Portrait Backdrop

    How To Create Your Own Portrait Backdrop
    By Corry at Sun, 2006-01-22 22:35

    What’s the point of dropping tons of money on a backdrop, when you can make your own for a fraction of the price?

    I did it…here’s how.

    First, supplies. Most important, I needed the material. I bought a large 10’X20’ piece of unbleached muslin from Joanne Fabrics. There are lots of fabric dyes you can use to create your backdrops, but I chose to use Rit Dye.



    I will explain the actual process later.

    Next, I needed a way to hang the backdrop. At the hardware store I bought a set of curtain hangers like this:



    ...and a 12’ piece of banister wood (the stuff they use for stair rails) like this:



    Also, for the dyeing process, I used a large un-used plastic trash can and a wooden dowel rod about 3 feet long.

    Now, the process. First, I prepared the fabric. I hemmed the edges so they wouldn’t fray. The top (one of the 10’ edges), I had to sew a loop big enough to slide over the banister rail (kind of like a curtain on a curtain rod). It helps when you have a mom with a sewing machine and too much free time!

    Next, on to dyeing. Prepare your solution as directed on the package. For the color and look I wanted, I chose to use one part Black dye to two parts Pearl Grey. On the directions, it says to stir constantly to achieve a solid color. I did not want a solid color, so I would stir for a minute or two, let it sit for a minute or two, stir, let sit, etc. Once it is dyed to the color you want it, the fabric must be rinsed until the water runs clear. Then, just pop it in the dryer or hang it up to air dry.

    While the fabric dries, it’s time to prepare to hang it on the wall. Take your curtain hooks and screw them into the wall about 11’ apart, at a height you find appropriate. I have mine at 8’, though if ceiling clearance allows, 9’ might be better.

    Slide the loop of  your muslin over the banister rail until there is about a foot of banister showing at each end. Here is how it should look.   Though more clearance is preferred to hang off the end of the hook, in my case it wasn’t possible. 



    And…you are done! When you are done doing your shoot, you merely roll the backdrop up onto the rail. A tip: when you unroll it again, it will be wrinkly. Keep a small spray bottle with water in it, and spray the wrinkles til they are damp. Pull the wrinkles taut a few times, and leave it to dry. Most of the time, it will dry smooth, though sometimes you have to repeat the process. 

    In the end, here were my results.



     


     



  2. #2
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    When I was at an organized trail ride last New Years I needed to devise a backdrop out of nothing, literally. So, I started going thru my office trailer. Confiscated my cowhide, material I used on my tables and went to the spot I was given to take portraits. There sat 2 very heavy freezers, the long variety. So, we hung the material on the wall and draped it over the tops of the freezers. Used the cowhide as a focal point. Found some old boots, saddle, stirrups and an old beaten cowboy hat and can't forget a rugged 8x10 photo frame that sat next to each person. I went from ready to pull my hair out to "my studio was open" in a very short time. It really helped to have friends that supplied me with props. The 8x10 picture frame was my husbands idea. And it was a great one! I put the frame at an angle that it was easy to put the customers close-up photo in it. It was really cool. They did'nt notice it right away and when they did it blew them away.

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    I've grabbed blankets, sheets and even old tarps for backgrounds. Painter drop clothes that you pick up at Home Depot can work great, for kids you can spray paint on them or splash water based paints on them for some good effects. the dreaded blue plastic tarps and even just regular sheet plastic can also be used (plastic works great if you can get some colored light on it from behind).

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    I use old sheets, too. I also go through the "remnants" sections at fabric stores, just for small peices to lay on the table-top I use for newborns and babies.

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    I'm a fan of the remnant section too. Great finds there.

    Quote Originally Posted by LadyJasmine View Post
    I use old sheets, too. I also go through the "remnants" sections at fabric stores, just for small peices to lay on the table-top I use for newborns and babies.

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    Muslin is a good way to go but there are a lot of other materials out there that can be useful. If you pick up a discounted set of satin sheets for example, this can make for a pretty interesting effect. And if you're just looking for something white, you've got tons of options.

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    Great job. That's actually a lot of work to make a back drop, and potentially quite messy. Plus, we'd need a sewing machine.

    None of this is a problem for mass production, but it could be for us!

    I'm sure this will be useful for those of us with the tools and guts enough to do it!
    "Well begun is half done."
    -Aristotle

 

 

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