Make Yourself A Cheap Distressed Canvas Background

Make Yourself A Cheap Distressed Canvas Background

Most cloth backdrops I have found cost between $70 - $100, but today I was turned onto a cheaper alternative. Photographer Elena Jasic posted a tutorial today on her blog on how she made her on distressed canvas background for around $50. The materials can be purchased at local stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart.




Things you will need:

1. SuperTuff Canvas Drop cloth (Can be purchased in your local Lowes, HomeDepot etc.)
2. 5 Bottles of Rit Black Fabric Paint (Can be purchased in Wal-Mart or Fabric store)
3. A large storage container or a big trash can


1. Put canvas drop cloth into container

2. Fill with warm water until it covers the fabric completely

3. Pour Rit fabric paint into container with the fabric

4. Mix it up until you feel that it is evenly spread throughout the container

5. Let it sit for a day or two

6. Ring it out and throw it in the dryer or lay it out on your lawn to dry

7. Take amazing photos on your new backdrop

8. Celebrate that you only paid around $50 bux for it


Via [Elena Jasic Blog]

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Spy Black's picture

$50 versus $70? You can't be serious.

yeah wtf?

Erin B.'s picture

Agreed. The extra $20 for my time is worth it.

You really don't need 5 bottles of RIT. It's super strong and condensed, and fabric (in this case canvas) has a limited ability to absorb dye. Even three bottles is probably overkill unless you have a really huge backdrop. 

Jeff Orig's picture

You can buy these on amazon for $20 already made:

Sander van der Veen's picture

Those are pretty small .. the 70 - 100$ one's are most of time (atleast here in EU) 2.75 wide and several meters long ... 

haris Shakeel's picture

 Yes, Muslin is not heavy as canvas and this size is suitable for 3/4s and head shots only.


Hans Andersson's picture

Im dying to find out where you can get canvas cloth here in europe, let alone in sweden.

I hope that pun was intended....because its cracking me up.

I use Calico, cheaper than canvas, lighter than canvas, takes dye well :)

The usual problem using canvas/cloth backdrops is when you have to transport it: it wrinkles. Either you try to keep it wrinkle-free or you stuff it into a bag so it has a pattern of wrinkles.

Either way - I recommend paper backdrops when working indoors.

Renlish's picture

 You can roll your backdrops. Crease free, particularly with muslin.  Roll up, then fold in half and store. The creasing in minimised and a steamer will get out any major folds.

Then you have to bring a steamer with you to your headshot assignments. Nothing I want to go through. Glad that there is paper.

Daniel Mora's picture

Go to Home Depo and ask to look at returned paint. They usually sell it for 5-10$ since its returned and they theoretically cant sell it again.

then get this:
20$ at home depot:

I did this a few months back applying the dye using a clean pesticide sprayer. I made three; neutral, warm and cool (black/gray, brown, navy). It gave it a nice, subtle mottled color— I hate the contrast on cheap tie-dyed muslin. I used 9x12 canvas drop cloths from Walmart. They were much sturdier, much subtler, and the total cost came to just under $30 ea.

Anna Hwatz's picture

I think I'd pay the extra 20 bucks. Quicker and mess free lol

but you don't get the fun of dealing with 8 gallons of permanent black ink sloshing around in your flat!

You cannot compare the quality of this DIY drop to that of the drops you can buy for $20 more.  These paint drops are incredibly thick, whereas the muslins purchased off Amazon and Ebay are thin, almost sheer.  I have used this technique myself and do not recommend scrimping on the dye or water when working with such a large drop.  Be prepared - wringing the wet, dyed drop is some serious work. 

Why so negative ? I just spend around $12,000 on a new DSLR system therefore I'm a bit short on money. $20 is quite a lot. If I perform this tedious procedure about 300 times I can afford a new pro DSLR (300x20=$6k) body. That really pays of for me.

Renlish's picture

People, it's an OPTION.  Quit yer bitchin'.  Standard 2.75-3m drops cost $200 in Australia, more if you want some sort of patterning on them. It's worth a little extra work.