How to Make a Stage Background

Written by rianne hill soriano Google
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How to Make a Stage Background
When the stage curtain opens, the stage background will be behind actors. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Constructing a stage background generally requires knowledge in painting and carpentry. It is also essential to have knowledge on the effect of stage lighting over the stage background. Any basic or elaborate background must be safe and secured to protect the actors from possible accidents like the background falling onto them.

Making a stage background is quite accessible even to non-professionals. Meanwhile, making a large-scale background with very intricate designs and those involving lights and electrical and mechanical effects are better left for professionals.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Fabric canvas
  • Newspapers
  • Paint cups
  • Tape measure
  • Adhesives
  • Carpentry or construction tools
  • PVC pipes, pieces of wood or large wooden board

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Finalise the size of your stage background based on how it should cover the background space in your actual stage location.

  2. 2

    Sketch how your stage background would look, then make a layout on how it should be mounted to the stage. This also allows you to determine the specific materials you need for your stage background construction. Often times, a fabric with a frame made of PVC pipes are used for a homemade stage background. In some cases, styrofoam, wood, plastic or metallic sheets are used instead of fabric. Using a fabric is common because it allows more convenient painting of a background whether a landscape, an interior or exterior of a house, a castle or a fantasy land.

  3. 3

    Buy your construction and painting materials based on the needs required by your sketch and your layout. Also, prepare your basic construction and painting tools like hammer, screwdriver, driller, adhesives, paints and paint brushes. Use matt paint to avoid unnecessary reflections on your painted background caused by stage lights falling onto it.

  4. 4

    Cut your fabric canvas according to the measurement of your intended stage background. Place it on your work area, which is ideally covered by newspaper pages to avoid leaving paint on unlikely spaces like your floor or your work table.

  5. 5

    Make guide sketches around your canvas using a pencil, then prepare your painting materials and tools.

  6. 6

    Start painting your stage background. Once done, allow it to dry for a number of hours. Usually, it is better to leave it overnight.

  7. 7

    Spray the painted background with a matt finish sealer spray to protect it from chipping and cracking.

  8. 8

    Attach PVC pipes or pieces of wood on the left and right sides of your painted canvas to serve as your stage background's mounting frame. Some prefer attaching the canvas over a large wooden board, while some prefer surrounding the top, bottom and sides of the background to create a more secured frame. If you are making a small stage background, you may be able to use a curtain rod or other similar materials for your frame. There are some who simply hang the painted canvas from a stage rig or the ceiling. There are also those who tie the background's ends on specific parts of the stage.

  9. 9

    Mount the stage background on your stage, then make any necessary adjustment based on how the stage lighting affects you painted background and how safely and securely attached your background is on stage.

Tips and warnings

  • Depending on the type of background you will paint, you may need different types of painting tools. Rollers and large, flat brushes are used to paint large surfaces, while a trim brush and other smaller brushes are used to create more details on your painting.
  • When painting, make sure you have the right perspective to make the background look suitable to how the stage would look in its entirety.
  • If the stage play uses wind effects, or if there are scenes that may result to a prop, set or actor unexpectedly touching your stage background during a performance, it is best to secure your background on a heavy surface or large frame which will prevent it from moving unnecessarily.

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