I have written two other articles on the subject of making wood backdrops for photography already. The first one was How to Build a DIY Wood Background For Photography and the second one was Creating A Modern Looking Distressed Wood Backdrop For Photography. So this is going to be my last how-to article on making wood backdrops and will be focused directly on the techniques I used to make two new ones. A rustic brown backdrop and a distressed looking white backdrop.

In this tutorial I am going to teach you how to first make a brown backdrop using paint, but with a finish that comes out looking like it has been stained. Then I will teach you how to make an aged looking white backdrop using two layers of paint.

The first thing I did was to choose my brown paint. I chose a very rich looking milk chocolate colored brown. And, as I am based in Thailand, my access to paints is limited to a local manufacturer called TOA. The model of paint I used is called Timbershield and it is an acrylic latex water based paint for wood. And being water based, it is real easy to wash off with just plain water if you happen spill any or get some of it on your hands, which is great. The color I bought is #8661 and called Rich Turned Earth. It sells for around US$10 for a quart, which is more than enough.

For the technique I used, the deeper the brown color of the paint the better because you are going to dilute the paint with water, which is going to thin out the paint, but also lighten the color as well. So, first I poured the paint I planned to use for this backdrop into a small bowl and mixed it with 50% water. I stirred the paint and water together to mix it up and then painted the brown paint onto the boards with a 2.5″ wide brush. Immediately after painting each board I used a fresh piece of dry paper towel and wiped the paint off the boards before it had time to dry. I then let the boards dry for about 25 minutes. Easy. And the result is what you see below.

The main advantage to using paint for this application instead of a stain is that you get a stained looking finish with this technique without all the hassle of working with a stain. No paint thinner needed, no odor, easier cleanup, and it is much easier with the technique I used to lay down an even layer of color on the wood than it would be if I had used a wood stain.

In addition, when putting a finish on a light colored young wood like the pine wood I used (above), it is hard to get a rich dark finish on the wood with wood stain to begin with. So using the watered down paint technique is a great way to get a nice stained looking finish with this type of wood.

My next project was to make the aged looking white backdrop. The first thing I did was to apply the brown paint to the boards following the same steps exactly as I did above. The brown will be my undercoat. After the brown paint dried I applied a topcoat of pure white paint on top of the brown. I also first mixed in about 20% water to the white paint. This made the paint a little thinner and easier to apply to the wood and the small amount of water I added made it also take a bit longer to dry, which is what I wanted.

So, I then applied the white paint using heavy brush strokes. And this is why I said I wanted the paint to dry a bit slower than usual. The slower drying paint allowed me to continue to go over the wood again and again with my paint brush to leave impressions in the paint as it was drying. The most important thing though is to brush the paint on in an upwards direction only. I discovered painting downwards leaves some small unwanted horizontal lines of texture in the paint when it dries.

I then let the white paint dry fully for another 30 minutes and the result is what you see below.

As you can see, the purpose of putting a brown layer as an undercoat on the wood first is that it helped to bring out patches of darker color in the wood below the white color. This is what gives the finish a bit of a distressed and aged look.