One of the largest issues with toy photography, especially for those of us who shoot primarily in a studio, is finding suitable backgrounds. I recently tried to build my own background using foam and some craft paints.
This is the result.
I got this idea from a channel I stumbled across on YouTube called Black Magic Craft. The channel is primarily about building terrain pieces for tabletop gaming, like Dungeons & Dragons. Those games are at a much smaller scale then I need, but if toy photography has taught me anything it’s that scale is relative, so I thought I’d give it a go.
My first project was making a shiny, new busted-down stone wall.
Making the stone wall
I started by going to the hardware store and picking up some foam insulation. I then cut out a couple dozen 1/4″ by 1/2″ bricks using a carpenters square and an X-Acto knife. I then glued the bricks to a base made from the same foam, building a wall shape. I also glued sand to the ground for texture. The result looked like this:
Painting the background
Foam is nice, but hardly realistic, so the next step is to add some paint. I started by covering the entire model with a mix of Mod Podge and black paint. This gives a nice base of colour and adds some strength to the foam.
I painted the bricks dark grey, and used a lighter grey for highlights. I then added more glue to the ground, and covered it with an even layer of potting soil.
Finally, I finished it off with a nice coat of polyurethane spray to lock everything together.
This is what it looks like, with a Re-Ment pose skeleton figure for context.
Putting the background to use
Backgrounds are not helpful unless they are used in a photo, so I went about creating one. I took an image of the skeleton lying against my shiny, new busted-down stone wall and composited it in front of a woodland scene I took a couple of years ago.
Overall, I am pleased with the result. Not bad for a couple dollars worth of foam and some paint, eh? I can’t wait to make some more!