How to Make a Wooden Photo Backdrop

white wood photo backdrop

Aside from hitting up Home Goods this weekend and buying the cutest little plates and props, I also dragged Lu to Michael’s, the arts and crafts store. As we drove into the parking lot, I told him about how my mother used to load up at Michael’s and sit with us for hours coloring, Modge-Podging, stickering, drawing, building and painting. I have fond memories of our crafts closet… plastic drawers stuffed with construction paper, glue sticks, glitter, pom poms, colored yarn, and crayons. If we were ever bored, she’d yell “grab your sister and make something.” Didn’t have to tell us twice, we loved it! Right, Felicia?

To make a long story short, as we walk into Michael’s, Lu responds to my reminiscing with “That sounds like a lot of fun,” to which I responded, “Yes, yes it will be fun.” Little did he know, he was being roped into a DIY sort of weekend. 

Inspired by Lindsay and Taylor’s post on DIY distressed wood photo back drops over at Love and Olive Oil, I set out to, well, DIM (do it myself). Wooden back drops make the plates pop in food photography. Distressed wood looks a bit rustic, so when its beneath a ceramic plate, there is this beautiful contrast that draws your eyes to the meal and makes the food seem that much more inviting. Whenever I look at Half Baked Harvest’s photos, I always feel like she’s beckoning me to “come hither” to her dinner table.

If you’re not a photographer or food blogger, that’s okay – this still can be used many other ways. Perhaps as a simple wall decoration or something else Pinterest-y. This step-by-step photo tutorial results in a double-sided wooden backdrop. To achieve that distressed look, you first paint down a wooden color (a brownish-green) and then paint on top another color (I chose white!).

Okay, let’s get to the craft making. These were my supplies (all purchased from Michael’s):

  • 14 pieces of faux-wood panels, 1/8″-thick x 3 foot long x 4 inches wide
  • 1 piece of foam board, 1/4″ thick x 3”4″ long x  2’8″ wide
  • 2 bottles of Gorilla glue
  • 1 8 fl oz bottle of black acrylic paint (this one in Black Tie)
  • 1 8 fl oz bottle of brown acrylic paint (this one in Dark Chocolate)
  • 1 8 fl oz bottle of green acrylic paint (this one in Shamrock)
  • 1 8 fl oz bottle of white acrylic paint (this one in White)
  • 2 paint brushes (these ones)
  • 3 clam shaw boxes (these ones)
  • plastic disposable spoon to mix the paint
  • two wooden skewers 

Other supplies, not obviously purchased from Michael’s:

  • 10 books or other heavy items 
  • newspapers to lay down as a painting surface (and/or a tarp)
  • latex kitchen gloves (optional)

My last bullet would be: my boyfriend, Lu. Special thanks go to him for doing this for me… I did mix the paints to get to the colors that I wanted, but he glued, painted, dried and adjusted the entire thing so that it was perfect. What a keeper

Step 1: Lay down the foam board on a firm surface, like a table or the floor.

Step 2: Wipe down 7 of the wooden panels with a lightly dampened paper towel.

Step 3: Wearing the kitchen gloves, apply glue to one side of the panel and place down onto one edge of the foam board. Press down firmly to adhere.

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until all panels are glued down in a row. Place books or other heavy objects down on top of the panels to secure. Leave for at least 2 hours to dry.

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Step 5: Once that side has dried, flip over and repeat steps 1-4 with the remaining 7 wooden panels.

Step 6: Once both sides are done, place down the newspapers on a surface (a table or the floor) and then place the wooden backdrop down. 

Step 7: Mix the green and brown paints in a 70 brown – 30 green ratio into a clamshaw box. Use about 1 cup of brown paint and 1/3 cup green paint. Stir with the plastic spoon to combine into a brownish-green color. 

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Step 8: Paint the wood completely, using the paint brushes. 

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

 Step 9: Let dry completely, about 1-2 hours.

Step 10: Pour about 1 cup of white paint into a clamshaw box and add in about 1/4 cup water and stir to combine. You want the white paint to thin out, so if it doesn’t seem thin, add a bit more water.

Step 11: Paint over the brown-green wood with long strokes. You want some brown-green color to come through, so don’t paint this coat very thick and don’t worry about imperfections – wood is never perfect! 

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Step 12: Take one of the wooden skewers and find the spaces between each panel and run the skewer down in a line, separating the panels. This will make it look like a real wood paneled table.

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Step 13: Let dry for 1-2 hours. This side is done! 

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

For the other side, I chose a light greenish color by repeating Steps 6-9, except instead of just brown and green, I combined green, black and white paint. No need to paint any colors over that, but repeat Step 12 to separate the panels. The final result?

how to make a wooden photo backdrop

Check them out…

The white wood (original recipe here):

  how to make your own photo back drop

The green wood (original recipe here):

IMG_1615 copy  

There you have it… two wooden backdrops for photography. Although it took all day, it’s a fun project for a lazy Sunday, especially when it’s chilly out. The first night, as we were gluing the panels down, we may have had a few glasses of wine. But what’s DIY without a little vino? 

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Comments

  1. What a great how-to. The funny thing is I just told my husband this past weekend that I needed him to with a project. Guess what it was? A wooden back drop for my photos. It’s always great to have someone around I can rely on to help. Can’t wait to see the final results of mine. Yours turned out great!

  2. i love this!!

  3. Annnnd the husband of the year award goes to yours for helping you with blog props! :)

  4. Lu’s hot.
    Oh… There was a backdrop tutorial here?

  5. Awesome how to! Also, props to your husband for helping you with..well your blog props :)

  6. this is so great! I have been wondering how to do this! thanks so much!

  7. which section of michaels did you see these?

  8. Great post!

  9. Thanks for the post, just what I was looking for… Where did you get your cute owl s&p shakers??

  10. Hi Ali!
    Would you happen to know if Michael’s still carries these faux-wood panels? I can’t see them on their website, and I also live in Canada! This is exactly what i’m looking to create for my blog.

    Thank you!

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