How to Make a Faux Finish Stone Wall Dungeon Backdrop
Make a Faux Finish Hanging Dungeon Wall Backdrop Using a Painters Drop Cloth, House Paint, Brushes, Paint Rollers, and Painters Masking Tape…In Just One Day!
In January of 2010, a new client approached me with a nearly impossible task – to completely brand an entire company in time for a trade show in two months. This meant everything, including a website, business cards, product catalog, hand tags, stickers, sell sheets and a trade show booth. Of course, there is printing lead time on almost all of this so the design time was closer to five weeks.
One of the more unusual things required was a custom hanging backdrop. Now, normally you’d just do a slick full color 10 x 10 pop up display. However, this was for a new Halloween mask company and the trade show was exclusively for suppliers to the Halloween and haunted attraction industry. If you showed up with your standard corporate popper you would be ridiculed mercilessly. It’s just not done. You either show up with bare black steel grids or some dungeoeny, haunted housey looking structure.
Money was tight, time was short and it needed to ship easily. So I suggested we paint one, roll it up and ship it.
My client was skeptical but I assured him it would look great, especially at the typical viewing distance of six to eight feet. Fortunately my client’s wife had the foresight to document the entire day which made this tutorial possible.
Even though this was for a grey stone dungeon wall, the same principle apply for any type of faux finish back drop.
Most of what I used: Blue painters tape, 9 x 12 foot heavy weight painters drop cloth, a textured pain roller for creating a speckly finish, and three shades of grey, plus a black for the grout and a red for the blood.
First, cover your area with plastic and then pin down the corners of the drop cloth so it’s tight and flat. Making a gesture like you’re holding a magical orb is strictly optional.
Following the creased pattern in the drop cloth, start painting in your grout/mortar lines. Use plenty of paint and dab it in forcefully into the cloth.
The cloth absorbs a lot of paint so be generous. It’s not only OK to overshoot the lines, it’s desirable. The extra paint makes sure you get complete coverage for your mortar lines and provides a subtle undertone shading affect around the edges of the stones when all the coats are done.
Start from the top and work your way down row by row. This makes sure you don’t screw up your pattern.
After it’s dry, it’s time to use painters tape to mask out the mortar lines. You could even use a stickier tape, like masking, because the paint is embedded so deeply into the cloth that there’s no way you can pull it off.
It goes much quicker with two people. Make sure you rub down the edges of the tape. You don’t want any bleeding. It’s more efficient to spend extra time at this point that to spend the extra time fixing up the areas that bled under the tape.
Now it’s time for your base coat. This will be your lightest color. Get it nice and solid. Expect to use the full gallon.
After the base coat use a sponge or cloth to add the next coat. This will be your first texture layer, and will be darker than your base coat. I choose to build up around the edges of the stones.
Finish up with the darkest color using a textured roller. This gives a nice overall stucco like speckle pattern with minimum effort. The reason I wore socks is I wanted a little protection on my feet, but nothing that would damage the canvas. It also had to be disposable as whatever you wear will be ruined. The bonus is it saves me the trouble of scrubbing my feet clean latter. Just take off the socks and throw them away.
After it’s completely dry, peel up the tape. This will be your first ah-ha moment where you start to get excited. Up to this point, it just felt like you were psending your day making a big gray wall.
No matter how diligent you were in applying the tape, there will be some bleed. Go in with a small brush and touch those up.
This will take awhile as there always seems to be another one you missed.
Now, what’s a dungeon wall without some blood splatter? This is where the nerves will kick in. After six hours of back breaking work it’s hard to throw blood on it knowing there’s no way to take it back if you were to mess up or change your mind.
Start slow with your splatters. You can always add more but you can’t take away.
Throwing the paint with your hands, or flicking with a brush – it’s all good.
Nice blood splatter.
Now it’s time to sit back and admire your work.
At this point the euphoria of finally being done will overwhelm your fatigue and aches and pains.
Time to hang it up.
My client holds some of his personal mask collection to test how it will look.
Debut at the trade show.
Most of the biggest players in the industry just display their masks on bare steel grids. It’s sad how neglectful their presentation is. However, being a new comer to the market, Trick or Treat Studios didn’t have the luxury of either market dominance or riding on their past glory to afford to be so cheap and half-assed. So a nice original handmade backdrop not only displayed the masks well, it also made an impression among the buyers that this new company was to be taken seriously.
The next year the booth size doubled so we painted up two darker column to cap off the ends.
And this just in. Mellisa at “Kingdom Kidz” a children’s ministry in Hawaii followed my tutorial and made a cool castle wall. They used black and one gray and it came out great.
Share and Enjoy