When most people hear the term “backdrop,” they think of either a simple fabric backdrop or a scenic backdrop (digitally printed or hand-painted).  But there are many interesting and dramatic ways to create a backdrop that dazzles, using a variety of combinations of interesting materials and techniques. The technique of appliqué, utilizing a variety of materials, is a great way to make a backdrop stand out from the crowd.

An appliquéd backdrop may consist of a design created from one fabric sewn onto a backdrop made of a different fabric, or it may include several different elements, including digitally printed elements, fabric in various colors, and trim.  The appliqué may even be padded to add dimension and texture.

By appliquéing reflective materials onto a black background, the design shimmers under stage lighting, while the background recedes, making the design appear to float.  The design may even seem to change color, depending on the specific reflective fabric used as well as the stage lighting.

On this backdrop custom-made for the band Fifth Harmony, metallic iridescent fabric in gold and silver were painstakingly cut and sewn onto a flat backdrop of Black 22oz Encore.


A similar technique was used for this backdrop for Panic at the Disco.  Once again, Black 22oz Encore serves as the main backdrop material.  In this case, however, a fabric consisting of pearlescent mylar squares on a fabric backing was chosen as the appliqué material.  This allows the design to look beautiful under regular white stage lights, but to also appear to change color when hit with colored lights.

While the term “appliqué” is usually defined as sewing one fabric onto another, in reality, appliqué isn’t limited to either fabric or sewing.  To liven up a digitally printed scenic backdrop, consider attaching a variety of appliquéd materials, including fabric, vinyl, and crystals or rhinestones.

This digitally printed backdrop for Jackson Guthy, with its brightly colored design, makes a statement on its own.  However, the appliqués of various materials in strategic locations, including mirror vinyl, neon vinyl, sequins, and acrylic crystals, subtly draw the eye to different areas of the design.

With a design that prominently featured a diamond motif, this digitally printed and appliquéd backdrop for Jennifer Lopez needed to shine.  Printing the design onto a satin material specifically intended as a digital substrate was a great choice, as the material added a sheen not seen with most digital substrates, but more bling was needed.  The addition of appliquéd sections of Silver Boucle, along with hundreds of rhinestones painstakingly applied by hand, brought this drape to the next level.  When the lights hit it onstage, it brought the dramatic sparkle that the artist was looking for.

As you see, applique is a great way to add texture, shine and dimension to a backdrop – whether you are starting with a simple black backdrop or a digitally printed one.

Coming next week – Adding Flair with a Mixed Media Backdrop