Sunday, 26 March 2023

Spring of Scenery 2023 - Part 4: Scenic Photo backdrop - basic construction

I like to try and have a suitable background for photographing my models.  I sometimes use a sheet of neutral grey card, but it's nice to have something more interesting or atmospheric sometimes.  I wanted to put together some textured ground cover and a rocky backdrop to test a few new techniques and materials.  This was actually made back in January 2021, so predates the landscaped gaming boar and tree covered rocky hills that I've previously covered in this blog.  I somehow misplaced the photographs and only recently rediscovered them...

Basic shape carved.

I carved out a section from some 4 inch thick insulation foam sheet.  I cut some angular cliffs about 2 inches high to make the backdrop with a flatter area in front where the figures would stand.

Angular cliff detail carved in.

I cut a stream bed into the foreground and a small pool at the base of the cliff.  This is set off to one side so it can provide a bit of extra visual interest if desired, but can be kept out of frame if I don't need it.

Stream bed.

I used a chunky, fractured piece of flint from the garden to texture the surface of the rock face.

Texturing the cliffs.

I mixed up some wet, pulped toilet roll with casting plaster and smoothed it on to create the ground surface.  The cliff face was painted with white masonry paint to create a good surface for the next stages of decoration.

Ground surface applied.

The polyisocyanurate foam I used (the foil-faced insulation type) turned out to be more springy than extruded polystyrene.  Most of the texture I applied with the flint has returned to its original form, so the cliffs look quite smooth again now.

Cliff painted with white masonry paint.

 In the next post, I will cover the painting of the scenery.


  1. Great idea- I like the effect of a picturesque back drop. A few years ago I started photographing my minis in some sort of scene (a fun little hobby in itself).

    1. Yes, it's nice to be able to put your models in a bit of context. I was finding it difficult to get the time to set stuff up every time I wanted some pictures so having a few compact pre-prepared backdrops is very useful.