Do you have a backdrop design ready to go? Don’t know where to start? Printed, painted?

It is no surprise that ordering a backdrop can be overwhelming for some clients. There is no one global approach when it comes to crafting a backdrop, and there are endless material options available that can impact both the look, and the price, of the finished piece.

Jason Ald_7

We generally recommend that the first question to ask is: How and Where will I Use My Backdrop?

Indoor Only

This is a great place to start as there is the greatest number of materials that can be used for an “indoor use only” backdrop. You will be able to choose from cottons, polyesters and poly/cotton blends. Any of the traditional drapery materials will work for indoor use and they are all flameproofed to standards that will hold the test of time when used indoors.


If you want to take your backdrop outdoors – for say festival gigs or outdoor special event installations – then your material selection narrows greatly. We never recommend cotton products for outdoor use. They will shrink, rot or worse, lose the topical flameproofing chemical in a potentially damp setting. For an outdoor use backdrop, you will be directed to polyester products, as well as the more traditional vinyl coated materials such as vinyl and vinyl mesh.

Next let’s look at design: Which of the below categories represents my design needs best?

Photo finish “picture” image

This is the moment for a digitally printed backdrop to really shine! No matter where you look, you will see digitally printed stage backdrops and wide-format digital billboards with full size photos printed on them. That’s because any photo file with appropriate resolution can be printed on fabric with incredible results. With a variety of substrates to choose from, digital printing enables you to magnify photo quality images into stunning custom theatrical and scenic digital backdrops, concert drapes, and exhibit booth panels. Here are more details about the printing process:

Hand drawn sketch or stylized graphic

Either printed or hand painted may be options here. Digitally printed backdrops have the added durability and a reduced physical weight when completed, however hand painted backdrops have a charm to them that is unique. If your design is only an “inspiration image” and is not ready to be reproduced exactly as is – then an artist would be able to translate the image real time while painting your very own work of art with paint on cotton canvas. A typical scenic backdrop can best be described as an oversized painting on an expanse of cloth. We most typically use muslin or canvas, and most artists prefer to paint to a “neutral” or “natural” colored unbleached surface. Wide milled goods can be obtained in seamless widths of up to 35 feet – however, when cost is a factor, lengths of narrower, standard-width cloth can be stitched together. This method can also be used to fabricate the appropriate dimensions needed when the backdrop required is very large.

As well as offering “ready to paint” blank backdrops, we also offer a turn key service for those looking to have their design scenically reproduced. Various painting methods are employed, and various paint types utilized. Effects with UV paint can be added. Learn more about hand painted backdrops:

Hand Painted Scrim Drop for Scott Stapp Tour

Straight up company logo with PMS color matching requirements

Print it! You will get PMS color matching – bright bold colors – and you will know that the logo is reproduced on a grand scale in the correct format and with the right color output. Of course, you must always notify your printing vendor if a logo has specific colors in it – be sure to mention that you need color matching prior to the ordering process!

Just a texture background

Print or paint….. we suggest having it quoted both ways to see which fits the budget. Very basic textures can be quite affordable when hand painted and add lots of visual interest to a piece. Whether it’s a digital backdrop for your theater, concert or exhibit booth display, Sew What? Inc. offers all clients the same professional products, excellent customer service and fast turnaround to meet your deadlines.

And last but not least: FAQ: How do I prepare my files for digital printing?

Read our online file preparation guidelines for instructions and helpful hints. Of most importance is that the final output will be a direct reflection of the quality of the file submitted. If you are unsure of the file requirements, we recommend that you read our file prep guidelines or contact us for more information. In general, the original file should be at least 300 dpi when at 30% of the final output size. Contact us to guide you through the process.

Check out our numerous product categories. Then call us at (310) 639-6000 or contact us for a free quote. Need ideas? Visit our various Portfolios, or our Flickr Galleries for past projects and then review fabric choices. Additional questions? Confused about the difference between drapery fabrics and types of curtains? Concerned about flame retardancy regulations? Online resources available to you include our White Papers with answers to FAQ’s, engaging YouTube videos, and always right here on our informative, Sew What? Blog.