Finding a perfect flat lay photography background can be really difficult. After some unsuccessful online shopping, I decided to make my own. Here is a tutorial on how I created three different backgrounds and how you can create similar results. Overall, I am really thrilled with how these came out and cannot wait to start using these in my photos.
This project will crate a mess in your home very quickly so remember to put down the appropriate protective materials before painting. This entire DIY project took about two full days for me so please don't break your back by doing this all on the floor. Use foldable sawhorses to lay the plywood sheets on and you will feel a lot more comfortable. While shopping for the needed tools, make sure to go to your local supply store or Home Depot and check out their "oops" colors. These "oops" paints are usually mistakes created by the paint mixers unsuccessfully combining colors to a customers desire. To give you an idea on the bargain, I was able to pick up 10 different shades of grey paints for about $10-$15.
Light Grey Background
Start by painting your board white. Two coats were enough to hide the wood grain for me.
Fully paint the board with a light grey color with a paint roller. The color I used here had a green tint.
Continue painting a variety of light grey colors with different tints. After the green tinted grey paint, I added a purple tinted grey paint with a foam brush. I know that this color combination sounds crazy but don't be afraid by adding competing colors. Color Variety will help add subtle dimension to your board. Move onto step 4 before this paint combination dries.
Spray water, from a distance, over the entire board. I let that sit for about a minute. Begin wiping away the water drops with a paper towel. This will pull up the paint that has not yet dried and leave an aged spotted texture effect. Feel free to repeat steps 2 & 3 until you get a desired contrast between tones.
Medium Grey Background
This boards process is the most experimental of all three and you may want to take what I say in some of these steps with a grain of salt.
Start by painting the entire board white. While the white paint was still wet, add a small amount of very dark grey or black with a foam brush. The dark grey I used here happened to have a blue tint. At this point, I didn't know where I was going with this so I brushed randomly to build up layers of lights and darks.
Then I painted the entire board the same very dark grey... While painting, I sprayed a lot of water on the board to continue the streakiness.
At this point, I had no idea what was going on so I used a sponge to remove some of the dark grey paint. After this dried, I didn't really like what was happening so I ended up painting the entire board black and sponging away the paint again. Now you can let the board dry completely.
I decided that now, this board looked terrible and I needed to fix it somehow. In an effort to salvage the board I came up with the next process. I poured a thin line of light grey paint on both sides of the board. Using only a board scraper, I started to push the paint towards the center in very thin layers. With a dry paper towel, I wiped vigorously over the wet areas to randomly remove some of the light grey paint. It came out alright, I don't love it but it could look interesting if the crop was very tight.
Dark Grey Background
I need to preface this boards tutorial by mentioning that my goal was was for this board to fully resemble slate. Normally slate boards are small and heavy but I wanted something a lot larger with more texture throughout.
Paint the entire board black with a roller and smooth with a foam brush.
Start randomly adding thick blobs of the Golden Molding Paste.
While moving around the board, flatten the molding paste with the bench scraper or Palette knife. Remember to leave areas of the paste higher than others. With the edge of the bench scrapper, slash lines through the paste in every direction. Keep in mind that less lines will look more realistic, and more lines will just looks crazy... When wet, the molding paste is meant to absorb paint put on top of it so I made sure to let this layer dry for about 24 hours.
Working in small sections, start brushing black matte paint over the board in thin layers. Use the spray bottle to add water and wipe away the black paint randomly. This will reveal the edges of the white paste and help define the texture.
After each board is completely dry, add the matte varnish to protect and seal the paint. In the image below, I thought it would be a good idea to photograph the varnish in a zig-zag line. It turns out the varnish dries really quickly so while I was brushing the varnish into the board, the lines stayed a little visible. So.. brush the varnish into the wood immediately.