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DIY Plywood Photo Backdrops

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

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

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.

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.

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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