Hobby shortcut #5: Photography backdrop

In this tutorial I show you how to easily upgrade your light box to a miniature photography studio including terrain and realistic background images.

Some fluff first

I admit it: I’ve been worshiping many other hobby gods besides the miniature wargaming One. Besides being completely engulfed in science-fiction and fantasy escapism through literature, the Warhammer and RPG’s ever since I got Heroquest in 1989, I’ve also been a photography nerd since almost as long. Especially shooting with film. I started out with a cheap point and shoot Kodak film camera and a less cheaper NIKON F-801 SLR. After that, I enjoyed buying used cameras, for instance a NIKON FM and LOMO Смена, and restoring them. I used to develop my films myself in my previous apartment. We used to have a bathroom which could be completely darkened. Since our last move, we had no more suitable makeshift darkroom. That’s when, after a short break taking pictures with my phone(s), I decided to to reactivate my old Canon G11 and to invest in a new digital camera (Lumix GX80) with only fixed manual lenses.

The idea

I also bought one of these cheap fold-able photo booth some time ago to be able to take somewhat passable pictures of my miniatures. After shooting pictures in front of a white or black background for a while, I thought to myself why not designing something more realistic. After I painted my own wargaming backdrops, and after a comment by James Hartman on that very same post, I decided to create something more realistic to photograph my minis. Long story short: This led me to this simple tutorial or 5th Hobby shortcut.

My miniature photography studio background setup in action

Building your photography booth setup

You’ll need only a few items for this:

  • support for the base. I used 20 x 20 cm canvases, but you could use anything even cheap/free corrugated cardboard (mind the warping though…)
  • basing material (whatever you use for your minis and terrain)
  • photo booth or a cardboard box and lights
  • (printed) background picture (possibly glued to a rigid support
  • Camera (any will do, even or especially your phone will do)

Let’s start!

First I got some very cheap 20 x 20 cm canvas.

I covered the canvas in PVA glue. I then sprinkled some sand, tile grout and pebbles on it and painted and dry brushed the whole thing. Your standard basing, terrain method basically.

Next I printed some 20 x 20 cm pictures and cut them to size. Then I glued them to a same sized piece of foam core board.

Image for my miniature photography studio background

Finally I put the picture in the back of my photo booth and put the canvas on the bottom.

My miniature photography studio background

Now, it’s time to start shooting stuff in my miniature photography studio with its background image put in place.

Gasland truck shot in my cheap miniature photography studio background.

Further ideas

I started building a wasteland setup to photography my Gasland cars and maybe some Sci-Fi miniatures. Of course your can make endless backgrounds and base tiles. Next I’ll do a grassland, snow and dungeon tile next. I already printed the corresponding images. Once you have different pieces, you can of course mix and match the different backgrounds and floors.

2 comments

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words Raul.
      I had a look at your approach over at your blog. It’s a great idea. Very efficient and cost effective!
      Eric

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