5 things you need to know when ordering and working with custom printed backdrops
Hey hey, thanks for stopping by today!
Our custom colour and bespoke printed backdrops have been live for a while now and many of you are enjoying shooting with them (like me!) so we now have a few notes to mention, frequently asked questions if you like!
5 things that should help you pick your colours, work with your custom backdrops and get the most from them in your photography.
1. Choosing and working with your colour
Because printing is done with CMYK inks we need your colour reference as a CMYK number reference. (CMYK refers to the four ink plates used in colour printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).)
You can convert RGB (web colours) or Pantone (ink refs) to CMYK numbers but because this is already taking one action or process/edit we recommend checking the CMYK colour next to your original to be sure it is very close and still suitable.
On top of that we have the issue of screen calibration and the fact we are all seeing things on different screens. Not a problem per say as adjusting colours (especially block colours) can be a quick fix with some easy edits, but it is something to consider.
This Google online colour selection tool is helpful as it shows the Hex (web) colour which you can select and then it gives you the RGB and CMYK codes below.
Generally speaking; allow a 5% tolerance on your CMYK ref and expect it be very close in hue but perhaps slightly lighter or darker once printed.
On the images below you can see my original backdrop colour in the top image, and the edited version below where I have made it less green to match the plate. This was done with a quick 'replace colour' edit in Photoshop but you could also do this in Lightroom or Capture One if you prefer by masking the backdrop area and making your adjustments.
If you're confident in your CMYK colour you can add that to the notes at checkout when you order but if you need any help at all just get in touch!
Please note this wasn't the intention for this custom backdrop - it printed the colour I wanted for another shot but I then chose to use it again here and the only plastic plate I could find at the right size was this more blue one so I edited the backdrop to match! A stylists life right?!
Shot with a custom colour backdrop. Direction + styling by Olson, photographer Bernacki.
2. Printed colours have a slight texture
The printing technique uses dots to mix 4 inks (the CYMK colours) that blend and create your desired colour. Up close you will see tiny dots like in an impressionist painting, but from further away the dots merge together to create a smooth overall effect.
Custom printed backdrops will not look as consistent as coloured paper or card which is made with a pre-mixed dye covering the entire surface. However, our custom coloured backdrops are waterproof (if you choose vinyl) and they are bespoke meaning you can get your perfect colour match - so its down to you to decide which is the priority for you! (I have a good selection of both.)
With this in mind, we don't recommend shooting small items like jewellery or paper crafts on custom colour backdrops unless you don't mind this small dotty texture.
On the example below you can see the slight texture on the bottom surface used as the tabletop - I don't mind it in this instance, in fact I think it adds to the image. But if I did want to smooth it out I would just select the background in Lightroom and take the texture all the way down as you can see in the screengrab (you could also play with the Clarity and Sharpness).
You will notice on all of the images that when the flat and gradient colour backdrops are used behind or out of focus they look perfectly smooth.
Another example with a custom blue backdrop shot overhead and focused very close to the backdrop due to the height of the eggs; followed by another overhead on a custom red backdrop where the focus was about two inches from the backdrop allowing it to soften off. Just this small amount of distance is enough to smooth out and blend the dots (depending on your F stop of course.)
Shot with custom colour backdrops. Direction + styling by Olson, photographer Bernacki.
3. Gradient backdrops need to be close colours
Because of the printing process and colour mixing mentioned above, we recommend using similar colours in graduated designs.
Orange to red, yellow to white, turquoise to blue etc will all work really well as a graduated, fading design.
If we try to mix more contrasting colours we run the risk of seeing lines instead of blended, softly changing hues.
I have experimented with this a lot on recent shoots and where the design hasn't printed so well due to the colours being quite different I have been able to edit out the subtle (but annoying!) lines in the same way by reducing the texture and playing with the colours in post-production, but of course this isn't ideal.
We will always let you know if we think a colour combo won't work so well and of course we always send proofs of all custom designs for your approval before going to print.
Shot with a custom gradient colour backdrop. Direction, production + styling by Olson, photographer Rob Smalley.
Shot with a custom gradient colour backdrop. Styling and photography by Olson.
4. Don't be afraid to mix plain colour and textured backdrops!
Working with poppy colours and graphic styling is lots of fun and bang on trend at the mo but don't forget your trusty marble, wood and textured surfaces and backdrops to bring real three-dimensional texture and light and shade.
Unless you're going for a very stylised, editorial or beauty look adding 3D props and surfaces will always make your image feel more dynamic and 'real'.
Mixing smooth and textured surfaces like we do in our homes helps create an authentic lifestyle vibe rather than a classic 'studio' look (you know, where we all know its been shot in a studio and actually you're not even trying to pretend wasn't!)
I love mixing in reclaimed surfaces and furniture with printed backdrops - especially with our new wall 'drop series.
Shot with the ISSY backdrop on the base and a custom colour backdrop behind. Direction + styling by Olson, photographer Bernacki.
Shot with the AMSTERDAM backdrop behind and reclaimed dock wood as the tabletop. Styling and photography by Olson.
Shot with the TEASE curtain backdrop. Direction, production + styling by Olson, photographer Rob Smalley.
5. If in doubt go LARGE!
- you're not sure what size you need
- you're not sure how you'll use your backdrop
- there's any chance you'll need it to go behind your set to photograph anything bigger than a plate of food (bottles, cakes with candles, flowers etc).......
go for the large A0 size!
That way you have the flexibility but can always cut it down if preferred and then would have two identical smaller backdrops.
All of our vinyl and custom backdrops are available to order in three sizes straight on the product pages and you can order any larger paper designs here.
Our backdrops are stocked in the standard A1 size for same day dispatch Mon-Thurs (unless its a custom backdrop or noted as 'on backorder') and the two larger sizes A0 and XL are printed to order - check out the designs you need for the current lead times.
I hope that's been helpful for you! Over time this may turn into '10 things you need to know...' but for now I hope that's covered a few key points.
I'm really enjoying playing with bright colours at the moment, I hope you are too! If you have a favourite image on this page or any feedback or questions please comment below, we love to hear from you!
Sophie + co
All comments left before 9pm UK on Friday 18th May will be entered into a prize draw to win 3, A1 or 2, A0 custom backdrops of your choice with FREE UK delivery. This competition is open worldwide but shipping will be chargeable to winners outside the UK. See rates here. Good luck!
Shot with a custom colour backdrop. Direction + styling by Olson, photographer Bernacki.
Dalia Haber said:
Oh my those fried eggs literally explode on the paper. Love the colours!!!
The custom gradient is absolutely gorgeous! Super helpful article.
Melissa Zink said:
OMG, the Tease curtain is gorgeous! The texture looks incredible, perfect for this cocktail scene ✨
Jessica Murga said:
I am excited to try the custom colors, as well as the curtain look backdrops.
Gradient backdrops are my favourite
My favourite images is the oranges on the gradient backdrop 🎉🎉🎉
I love that you’ve started offering custom vinyl backdrops! Thank you for the tip of choosing colors closer to each other for gradient products. I’m seriously loving the grapefruit image. The gentle change in pink is sending me. Beautiful!
Floor Schreurs said:
I just recently realised I need to get some larger backdrops, as the regular 60×90 are often too small for me as a background in straight on shots, so definitely going to look into these! I love love looove the elegance of the amsterdam backdrop picture, but I am also a big fan of the pictures of the eggs and tarts. So creative!
Russell Brown said:
Love the idea of the custom backdrops , great for bringing brand colours into a shoot and the vinyl is a boon for “messy” shots.
Kelly Kardos said:
I have clients that really only want white marble-so to have some color in my arsenal would be amazing!! That pink gets me going and I love the teal and rust together- very striking
Love the Amsterdam set by Olsen
CRISTINA CAMACHO said:
I ordered two custom colours backgrounds and they are PERFECT! I went for tiles design and custom
Colour and they are just divine!
Now seeing the image of the gradient two colour background in pinks with the ruby red citrus fruit, I am in love! I want this! I need this!!! Wow wow wow
Catherine Hadler said:
Great backdrops, I especially love the turquoise and the pink gradient with the grapefruit :-)
Freya Erickson said:
I am in love with the contrasty shots of the fried eggs and Bakewells, proving that the backdrop is just as important as the hero itself!
Elisabeth Coelfen said:
I love the pink gradient background so much
I´m totally in LOVE with all the backdrops, which i have till now from Blackvelvetstyling! They are super strong and very high quality Vinyl backdrops. The designs are so beautiful and the textures come across very realistically in the pictures!
Your backdrops are so wonderful, if I could I would like to order all of them
I love all this style! My favourite image is the gin in the water – so clever! I have tried this too and your vinyl backdrops are perfect for it as they keep the shape don’t float up. Brilliant article thank you, I’m big fan of your blog and tips thank you.
Super informative, thank you!
Michele Martinez said:
Thanks for the invaluable tips and tricks to get the best out of your stunning backdrops. This tutorial will save me time and give me the finishes I love. Brilliant 😊
Love all of it! The only backdrops I have ever purchased are from you BVS.
I love the pop art madness of the bakewell tarts photo!
Dave Harrison-Ward said:
These kind of backgrounds would be spot on for the kind of macro work I tend to do! They look brilliant… literally 😀
Sofia Alarcon said:
Omg! I love all those images😍. My favorite is the one with the ice coffee, I love the bold colors of the backdrops , that makes that image to pop!🔝🤩 . Perfect for the coming summer shot! 👌🏼love the texture!
Deborah Balint said:
Love the moody colors of the Amsterdam background. All so beautiful. Think I need one of each!
Love the look of the gradient colour backdrop! 🍊
Love the pink, custom gradient colour backdrop. Styling and photography by Olson. Adore the bright, pink pop of colour against the orange/grapefruit colour.
Those custom gradients are stunning!! The Tease curtain background is definitely one that I need to get my hands on! 😍
Oh my goodness that pink custom gradient with the grapefruits, beautiful!!! Love all your backdrops!
I really love all your backdrops, They are my favorite so far and I love create my compositions with them.
Absolutely love all your backdrops, they are such high quality. I love the pink one with the grapefruit. It really makes them pop
Love the looks you can get with these and to see so much detail and explanation into the process of how the backgrounds are made and also best way the get them looking good in you edits. 🙌🏼
Niels Calvert said:
💡 Genius 💡
I think there’s real wisdom in what you say about ordering the bigger size – and like the tip to cut it down if you decide it’s too big.
Clever – noted and will do so!
All your backdrops are gorgeous and make everything looks better. It’s so hard to pick a favorite image but if I had to, I’d would say that the image with the TEASE curtain backdrop is the scroll-stopper image! Thanks for doing the generous giveaway, I am crossing my fingers here :)
I’ve just ordered my first custom backdrops, and I’m SO excited to get my hands on them! Sophie has been great through the whole process. Absolutely LOVE the quality of your backdrops x
LOVE the new be with the bubbles!!! Also I’m so excited to order some customs, thanks for the tips!
The textured backdrops definitely caught my attention and I am very excited for Amsterdam and Tease curtain backdrop! They definitely look very real from the images
The effect of the velvet curtain backdrop is stunning! I can’t believe it’s a print! 🤩
Love all the choice of backdrops!
Every time I buy it’s like waiting behind the door for Santa!!! Thank you for the quality and professionalism that you do your job!!
Sarah bowles said:
Sophisticated Amsterdam is the one! All of your backgrounds re amazing, looking forward to receiving my first ones this week!
I really like the Amsterdam backdrop, it would look amazing with floral arrangements
Such a useful and informative article. I love your backdrops and they just keep getting better and better, There is always another design I want. I love the gradient backgrounds and a custom version would be the icing on the cake.
I love the Amsterdam! I’m all about dark and moody, the glasses are perfectly captured against the backdrop with the lighting 😍
Nicola Kent said:
I absolutely love the panel details of Amsterdam. Classic and gorgeous!
Jeff Scholl said:
Love the all the backgrounds, especially the Amsterdam – the detail and dark & moody feeling is dynamic. So many great looks with any of these stunning backgrounds. Really appreciate your detailing the process of creating, ordering and tips for looking good when editing. Thanks.
Panel backdrops are great!
That’s so much knowledge and useful information in this post!!
Thanks for sharing that, love work with backdrops so definitely will keep in mind all these key information when I am going to choose one! 💪🏼
So many beautiful photos!! My favorite is the pink with the orange/grapefruit, juicer and glass!!
Julie Young said:
And THIS is why BVS boards are at the top of my wish list!
This article is a big help! I absolutely love the curtain backdrop, it would be the perfect way to showcase our products across the world!
ruth cartwright said:
I’m really loving solid colour at the moment. Those grapefruits really pop
This is really useful blog post. I love the gradient backdrops they look stunning!
Guy Vero said:
Love them all – really talented styling and photography. My Favourite has to be the gin.. placing the backdrop underwater is genius!
Samantha beeston said:
I’m in the process of setting up my own business and have just come across your brand! I love the vibrant pink backdrop it would definitely help our products stand out!
First two options for me personally, with food photography, you just need one solid colour to pop everything else.
Daniela Lambova said:
I love the custom gradient color with the grapefruits. It looks magical!
Nick Jackson said:
Your backdrops ‘LEVEL UP’ my food photography Sophie. They add colour and interest without stealing the show from the main event. Thanks so much for your guidance in the past and for providing a truly wonderful product and service.
Rahmat Balogun said:
My favourite is the coffee shot! I love the milk swirl and the bold and solid colour backdrops make the drink pop.
That orange gradient is lush!
Wahidur rahman said:
Love your products and thank you for the tips
Love the semplicity of that glass of white wine. It took me to Italy straight away. So yeah, Amsterdam is absolutely my favourite!
Love the simplicity of that glass of white wine. It took me to Italy straight away. So yeah, Amsterdam is absolutely my favourite!
Love how bold, vibrant and happy they look. And such a great way to give one more creative freedom!!
Matt Balint said:
The TEASE curtain backdrop is fantastic.
Love these tips! I also love the option to order custom colours. So helpful for client shoots.
richard brown said:
Great, interesting article. Thanks.
Love the iced coffee photo! The colours work so well. Also adore the fried eggs and the bakewell tarts – so simple yet so impactful!
So many helpful tips, thank you! Want to try gradient backdrops for a long time.
maria greco naccarato said:
Love all these colors!!!
Really love the Amsterdam background, so classic!
OMG that pink custom gradient with the grapefruits, beautiful! Gives a gorgeous contrast Love all your backdrops really. I am new in photography so those backdrops would be a great challenge to get out of the comfort zone !
Sophie Purser said:
Thanks for your kind comments everyone! Really pleased you found the info interesting and/or helpful :) CRISTINA CAMACHO you have been selected at random as the giveaway winner! We will email you now re the £150 prize. Thanks again everyone xx