DIY Backdrop (Cityscape)

Do it Yourself
TownBackdropThe other day I needed a backdrop for a scene on my layout. Not an entire wall but just a relatively small area to fill. This is how I did it.
Graphics Program: I’m going to suggest Corel Paint Shop Pro. If you have Photo Shop then great! Paint Shop Pro offers almost all the tools you’d see in Photoshop, from layers, Layer Masks and Blending Modes, to sophisticated options like HDR (high dynamic range) image merging tools and a Photo Blend tool for blending parts of different objects. – and – Paint Shop Pro vs. Photoshop — PSP wins out. I have been using PSP for over a decade. I am happy with the program for everything from correcting color and brightness issues on digital photos to creating digital and vector art. Professionals might use Photoshop, but for average users PaintShop Pro is more than adequate … and it won’t break the bank. (swiped those paragraphs). You can purchase it directly from the company for $79.99 which beats the heck out of Adobe Photo Shop at ****. What you say? Sounds good but I like to try before I buy? Fine. You can download a trial copy from Corel – a FULLY FUNCTIONAL copy with a 30-day trial. Now that .. is hard to beat .. really. Seriously. No kidding. → Download Trial

Stock Photo(s): One word – Shorpy. Shorpy is a vintage photography blog. It posts digitally enhanced photographs acquired from a variety of sources, including the Library of Congress and National Archives. Most of the photographs presented on the website date to the early twentieth century. [1]

Blades: X-Acto knifes for cutting around ‘stuff’ and Single Edge Razor Blades for straight cuts. You can pick up a box of 100 single edge razor blades from Lowes for $6.98 (this is a nice plastic box with slots that you can put the used blades back into)>

Spray Adhesive: 3M 77 is an excellent all around choice which I use for card modeling. This is a very aggressive product .. once it goes down it is there .. forever. 3M General Purpose 45 that is Photo Safe. Loctite High Performance 200 says it works on Wood, Metal, Acrylic, Foam, Fabric, Polypropylene and PVC. There is also aKrylon Easy-Tack – a Repositionable Adhesive.

block posters: A way to get from your composited backdrop photo. This free service works pretty well to allow you to print your backdrop on your own printer. You can of course take the file to Office Depot if you wish to have it professionally printed. Myself .. have been quite pleased with pounding out the backdrop on my cheepo ink jet printer. Even if you decide to have your backdrop professionally printed it is a good idea to print a version yourself to get color, perspective and size correct before dropping the big bucks.


DIY Backdrop (Cityscape) — 5 Comments

  1. 3M Super 77 spray adhesive need not be forever. I have successfully removed photo backdrops by using a small craft heat gun. By gradually working it across the backdrop I then pull the backdrop off. No tearing, no residue. One backdrop had been attached for two years and still came off just fine.

  2. Of course we know about Bestine because we use it to clean our Shapeways 3D models; but didn’t know it would work for this.

    As for creating a photo backdrop, I encourage the use of original photos. Most found on the internet have been reduced in quality and when enlarged they print out fuzzy (pixelated).
    I am currently stitching together a series of photos from Vermont, taken by Dave Emery. He took these in series, similar to a panorama and facing nearly 90º to the subject. This allows me to stitch the buildings with little to no distortion.
    An initial experiment with his on line photos showed promise except for the quality so I asked him to send me the original photos, which he did, and those can be blown up to poster size with no loss of quality.
    Tom Johnson’s use of photo backdrops on his INRAIL layout is one of the best. Tom takes his own photos of scenes he would like to sue on his layout. This may not be possible for everyone so try to get the original photos for a scene you’re interested in.
    There is nothing worse than spending hours Photoshopping and stitching pictures together only to have them print out with poor details.

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