Monday, 6 October 2014

Photographing Models With An Atmospheric Backdrop Without Resorting To Digital Trickery!

Do you like the picture of my orc? Its painted for my Warhammer Bestiary project and due to a bit of serendipity, can also be considered part of Orktober- thanks Erny for pointing that out! Now a number of people who frequent this blog have wondered about how I achieved the background seen in this picture.

The dark brooding sky.

The dawn bringing promise of plunder and teef, no doubt, for this orc!

I am sure that it is possible to use Photoshop and a range of other apps and pieces of software to do the same, and even add a few digital 'improvements' to the look of the model. But my picture was achieved in a very low-fi way, which is perhaps highly appropriate for an Old School '80s blog. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you - colour photocopies of landscapes borrowed from Google image searches! To be honest, these started life as a teaching resource for one of my lessons but ended up as part of my scenery selection after being saved from the feared recycling bin at the eleventh hour. I am sure that I read about using images like this elsewhere on the 'net and just fancied trying it out myself. 

All I did was collect a few odds ad ends from around the house to help makes things easy to do. A small gaming board, though in truth any size would do, a model house, a model hedge, a heavy object to prop up the image and of course, a painted miniature. 

Then I just propped them up in the arrangement you can see below. Took the set up outside when there was some good natural light, switched off the flash and took a few snaps. 

As you can see, using a flash indoors when there is no natural light just doesn't cut the mustard! It shows up all my dodgy painting for starters! 

The images were made very easily. I just selected few hi-res images from the internet and expanded them to fit neatly on an A3 piece of paper. Then it hit print. The images were then trimmed and stuck to card. Job done! 

Its great fun selecting pictures to make exciting backdrops. And its also great fun fiddling around with your painted models creating brooding shots like I did with the orc image at the top of this post. 

Go on, have a go yourself! 



  1. It's a great technique and the best thing actually is you can use even oldschool art like John Blanche paints, here's a selection :

  2. I find that you have to put something along the edge of the bottom of the image to create the illusion of distance. Hence the fences and hedges in the first picture!

    1. you're right, it's what I realised afterwards :

  3. You can also play with depth and put the foto further back, making it blend in even more!

    Like this:

    The orangy background is also a printed piece of paper. Find more examples on our blog here:

  4. I've been wondering about doing something like this for ages, but in my mind I had to back large images on thin wood and clamp them to the edge of my table somehow... Now I see how you do it I wonder what on earth I was thinking... Probably taking my cues from model railway layouts or something. Thanks for providing a solution to my imaginary problem!

  5. This is a great blog BUT maybe you could have a lot less background space on your photos when they are only one figure - it's fine for a group or battle shot, but singles just look lost & you can't really see the paint job....
    but again, thanks for all your great interviews & stuff etc - just wish I was closer to Nottingham to go to BOYL etc (from New Zealand it"s a bit far....)

  6. Brilliant post, thanks for the inspiration! My pics are notoriously shoddy so perhaps this will give me a kick to improve...

  7. Good post. Almost exactly what I do. I print pictures from the internet on card stock and then prop them up. Some one recently turned me on to unsplash as a resource for free stock images.