If you are a photographer, then you know the importance of having a nice, wrinkle-free backdrop. However, wrinkles happen, so it’s important to know how to deal with them without harming your backdrop.
To get wrinkles out of a backdrop, you can stretch them out, let them fall out naturally, or spray them out. You can also use a heat source such as an iron, hairdryer, or steamer. If you don’t have time to remove them before your shoot, you can remove them afterward with an image editor.
This article will go over the types of materials used to make backdrops today. We will delve into eight ways you can remove wrinkles from your backdrops to make them photo-ready and discuss some methods you can try to keep the wrinkles out of your backdrops once they are crease-free. Lastly, we’ll tell you some additional ways to conceal wrinkles in your photos with lighting, camera settings, and image editing software.
Listed below are the top three types of materials backdrops are made from today, including muslin, vinyl, and paper. We will discuss the characteristics of each of these materials below.
Paper backdrops are inexpensive and incredibly convenient. They come in a wide variety of colors, so you’ll always be able to find the hue you need.
These backdrops are disposable, so if you tear them, get them dirty, or scuff them up, you won’t have to worry about it. So, paper is a wonderful option for photographers who don’t want to spend a lot of time caring for their backdrops.
However, since these backdrops aren’t reusable, the cost to keep buying them can add up over time if it’s not being passed off to the customers.
Muslin backdrops are made from cotton. These backdrops come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, making them perfect for all of your photography needs.
This versatile backdrop material is easy to maintain and can be washed if it gets dirty. It is also incredibly durable, so if someone accidentally steps on your backdrop during a shoot, you won’t have to worry about it tearing.
Muslin is thick enough to prevent light from shining through it but not so thick that it’s too heavy to transport. Therefore, this material is great if you need a portable backdrop you can take with you when you are on the go.
Muslin backdrops are more expensive than paper ones, but they also last longer, making them worth the additional cost.
Vinyl backdrops are a wonderful option for many photographers. These backdrops come in several unique patterns ranging from bright and youthful to dark and serious. Vinyl provides photographers with a creative design for any studio shoot.
These backdrops are much stronger than paper. They are also water-resistant and straightforward to clean, so they are perfect for photographers who take action shots in which the backdrop could potentially get wet or dirty. These are also ideal for shoots with potentially messy subjects, such as children or pets.
Vinyl backdrops are reusable, so they are more environmentally friendly than paper backdrops. While they are more expensive than paper, they also last longer. So, in many cases, they can actually be a more affordable option.
Which Types of Backdrops Get Wrinkles?
Muslin is cloth, so it can easily become wrinkled. Even if you store it properly and care for it the best you can, it’ll likely get wrinkles at some point. Vinyl backdrops can also get wrinkles, especially if they are stored improperly.
Similarly, paper backdrops can become creased. However, if this happens, you would throw the paper sheet away and replace it with a fresh one. This is one of the main advantages of paper since you won’t have to spend a lot of time fixing the backdrop before each shoot like you’ll need to with a muslin or vinyl backdrop.
Listed below are eight of the most effective methods to get wrinkles out of your vinyl or muslin backdrops.
Stretch Out the Wrinkles
One option for getting rid of wrinkles is to attach your backdrop to its stand and pull the wrinkles out. This method is effective for muslin backdrops that have minimal creasing. If your backdrop is super wrinkled, we recommend trying out a different technique on this list.
Here are the steps you should follow to perform the stretching method:
- Attach the backdrop to its stand. Your backdrop should be attached to two side posts and a top crossbar through a slot in the fabric. Allow the bottom of the fabric to hang down.
- Clip the backdrop to the side posts. To pull the creases out of the cloth, tightly clip the fabric to the two side posts. Ball bungees and spring clamps work wonderfully for this.
- Take your photos. Take your photos while the backdrop is tight and has limited wrinkles. When you are done with your shoot, the backdrop should have fewer wrinkles than before due to gravity pulling the wrinkles down and your clips pulling the wrinkles out.
Be warned. Some backdrop supports are stronger than others. If you have low-quality backdrop support, the beams may bow inwards when placed under too much tension. We recommend putting sandbags on each base of the two side posts to prevent the support from collapsing.
Spray the Wrinkles
Getting the wrinkles out of your muslin backdrop is as simple as spraying it down with water. Sounds easy, right?
Check out the steps below to get your wrinkles out in no time:
- Purchase a sprayer. If you are working on a small backdrop, all you need is a cheap spray bottle and some water to get the job done. If you want to get the wrinkles out of multiple backdrops or a larger backdrop, we recommend investing in a pressurized water bottle, such as a weed sprayer. Don’t worry. These are also very affordable, typically only costing around $20.
- Hang your muslin backdrop from its stand. This will permit you to see the wrinkles and aim your sprayer accordingly. Gravity may also help to get some of the wrinkles out!
- Spray the backdrop with water until the wrinkles start to fall out. Make sure to use distilled water for this process. If you don’t, hard water deposits can build up inside of your sprayer.
- Use your hand or the back of a hairbrush to help remove the wrinkles. If water by itself isn’t getting the job done, you can use your hand or a brush to smooth down the wrinkles.
If you’d like to see how effective this method is with your own eyes, watch this video by Travis from Silverlake Photo Studio. In the video, he demonstrates how to spray your muslin with a weed sprayer to get your studio backdrop photo-ready:
Use an Iron
You should only use this method if you have a small backdrop since it’s very time-consuming. If you are working on something large like a studio backdrop, we recommend trying another method on this list first.
This technique is most effective for vinyl backdrops. Some people also iron muslin, but do this at your own risk. Over-ironing muslin can cause shiny spots to develop, which will damage your backdrop and make it unusable.
Follow these steps to iron out those wrinkles once and for all:
- Purchase an iron. We recommend getting a steam iron for vinyl backdrops, as they react nicely to the heat-water combo.
- Lay your backdrop on a flat surface. Make sure the space is big enough for the backdrop to lie completely flat to avoid putting wrinkles back into the cloth after you’ve already ironed it.
- Put your iron on the lowest setting possible. You want the iron to be hot enough to remove the wrinkles from your backdrop without damaging the material. This is especially important for vinyl backdrops since you can easily damage any graphics adhered to the front of the vinyl by applying too much heat.
- Gently move the iron over the backdrop. Do not put the iron directly on the cloth. Try to keep it at least a quarter-inch away. Also, try not to leave the iron in one area for more than a few seconds as this may damage the cloth. Continue to iron the backdrop until it is completely wrinkle-free.
- Let it dry. If the steam makes your backdrop a little wet, allow it to dry before moving it. It should dry quickly.
If you want to use this method to get wrinkles out of a vinyl backdrop, check out this video by creative shop owner, Rachel. She recommends ironing the backside of the fabric to prevent damaging the graphic adhered to the front side of the backdrop. Rachel also demonstrates how low your iron’s heat setting should be to avoid harming the vinyl:
Combine the Spray and Iron Technique
This method isn’t as popular, but it still gets the job done.
Follow these steps to try the spray and iron method:
- Attach your backdrop to its stand. Make sure it is clipped tightly so that the iron will have some resistance to move against.
- Spray the backdrop with warm water. You can use either a spray bottle or weed sprayer to do this, depending on the size of your backdrop.
- Iron the backdrop. Move the iron steadily along the backdrop. Do not press too hard or keep the iron in one place for an extended period. Using the iron will help get the backdrop dry, which will quickly reduce the severity of the wrinkles.
Get a Portable Fabric Steamer
Fabric steamers are an effective way to get wrinkles out of muslin backdrops. It should only take you approximately 15 to 20 minutes for small to medium-sized pieces of cloth to get rid of all of those bothersome wrinkles and creases.
Make sure to open up some windows or doors if you are steaming your backdrop in a room with smoke detectors. The steam can trigger the smoke detectors if you aren’t careful. Try to get a nice breeze going through your space to reduce your chances of setting them off.
Listed below are the steps you should follow to get wrinkles out with your fabric steamer:
- Purchase a steamer with a wide nozzle. These are more effective at removing the creases than steamers with narrow nozzles since they can impact a wider surface area.
- Put distilled or reverse osmosis water inside of your fabric steamer. This will help prevent limescale from building up inside the device.
- Turn on the fabric steamer. It should start to boil right away. After a few seconds, steam will start to come out.
- Gently move the steamer up and down each wrinkle until it starts to fade away. Keep the device approximately a quarter inch away from the backdrop as you are doing this. Keeping it at this distance will be just as effective, and it shouldn’t harm your backdrop! If any damage occurs, lower the heat setting on your steamer or move it farther away from the fabric.
Here is a cheap portable steamer from Bizond that is under $50.
If you need a little extra help performing this technique, check out this clip by the product reviewer and tutorial maker, Andrew Esquivel. Andrew goes over the way you should hold your steamer to get wrinkles and creases out of a muslin backdrop without drenching the fabric:
Use a Hairdryer
To try out this technique, follow the steps listed above but use a hairdryer instead of a portable fabric steamer. Make sure the hairdryer is on low heat to prevent damaging the cloth. If you are working with vinyl, make sure you are applying heat to the side that doesn’t have any graphics.
Let the Wrinkles Fall Out Naturally
If you’ve got some extra time, you can simply wait a few hours until the wrinkles naturally fall out of your backdrop. This method seems to be most effective for vinyl backdrops with minimal wrinkles.
To perform this technique, follow the steps below:
- Put your vinyl backdrop out in the sun for a few hours. You can either hang the backdrop on its stand or let it sit on a dry, flat surface in the sun, such as a table.
- Keep a close eye on the weather. If it starts to rain or the wind picks up, you’ll need to bring your backdrop back inside to prevent it from getting damaged or blowing away!
- Remove your backdrop from the sun. After a few hours of sun time, your backdrop should be nice and wrinkle-free. Don’t leave your backdrop outside for too long, as this may cause the colors to fade.
Use the Washer and Dryer
The washer and dryer technique is a simple way to remove wrinkles from your backdrop. However, this method is only effective for muslin backdrops. So, don’t go throw your vinyl backdrop in the washer.
To get started, following the steps below:
- Put the backdrop in the washing machine on cool. You can either wash it with mild soap, fabric softener, or no soap at all. You shouldn’t wash your muslin too frequently since this can cause your colors to fade, making your backdrop look less vibrant.
- Toss it in the dryer for 20 minutes. Do not leave it in longer than this since the heat can cause shiny spots to appear on the fabric or make the material shrink. Putting the fabric in the dryer should get out many of the most severe folds, even for a short period.
- Hang it up to dry. Once you take it out of the dryer, hang it on a line. Gravity will help remove the rest of the wrinkles, as will the sun. Keep it on the line until it is fully dry.
How Can I Prevent Wrinkles in the Future?
Now that you’ve gotten the wrinkles out, you likely never want to deal with them again. While we can’t promise you that you’ll never see another wrinkle, here are some preventative techniques you can try to avoid dealing with them on a regular basis.
Keep the Backdrop Hanging Up
If possible, the best way to prevent wrinkles is to keep your backdrop hanging up in your studio. Gravity will pull the backdrop down, keeping it wrinkle-free. However, this isn’t always an option, especially for people with small studios. So, if you don’t have the space to keep your backdrop hanging up, move on to the next suggestion.
Roll Instead of Fold
If you need to store a vinyl or muslin backdrop, make sure to roll it instead of folding it. Folding your backdrop is a recipe for disaster since it creates a ton of deep wrinkles that are a pain to remove. Rolling, however, will reduce the number of wrinkles your backdrop will have the next time you need to use it.
You should roll your muslin backdrop around some kind of a pole, such as a PVC pipe, cardboard roll, or a curtain rod. You can also use the support beam from the backdrop’s stand. This will help you store your muslin tightly and neatly, which will help prevent wrinkles from developing. If you need to, you can roll several backdrops onto the same pole. Once it’s rolled, secure it with velcro strips, shoelaces, or masking tape.
Bunch Up Muslin Backdrops in a Bag
Another common storage method for muslin backdrops is to ball them up in a bag. When you shove these backdrops into a ball, you create tiny random creases all over the fabric. These small wrinkles are much less noticeable than the deep wrinkles you would get if you folded the backdrops, making this a better storage method than folding.
While stuffing your backdrop in a bag won’t prevent wrinkles as much as rolling it will, this technique is still effective, and it’s quick and easy if you are short on time.
Cover It Up
After you’ve rolled up your backdrop, put it in its original packaging or another type of container to prevent it from getting dirty. Muslin backdrops should either be covered in plastic or stored in a cardboard tube to prevent water damage.
You should keep your backdrop out of the sun to help prevent fading. Ideally, you should store your backdrops in a cool, dark place far away from any heat sources, such as the furnace. Storing them in this way will help keep them in better shape and prevent tons of deep wrinkles from developing.
Can I Hide Wrinkles Without Having to Remove Them?
If your photoshoot is happening in 15 minutes, you may not have the time to get the wrinkles out of your backdrop. Have no fear. There are ways to remove the wrinkles from your backdrop after you’ve already taken the photo or reduce them beforehand using lighting and other photographic techniques.
Take Them Out With Photoshop
Photoshop is a graphic editor that allows you to alter photos on your computer. In Photoshop, you can add or take away your photo items to give you the look you desire. This is the perfect tool to use if you’d like to fix up your backdrop to get rid of any distracting folds after the photo has already been taken.
If you’d like to learn how to remove wrinkles from your backdrop with Photoshop, check out this informative video by Unmesh Dinda from PiXimperfect. Unmesh gives you a detailed guide demonstrating how to remove unwanted wrinkles from your backdrop. He also shows you how to add creative textures and patterns to the backdrop to give your photo a little extra pizazz:
Remove Them With Lightroom
You can also adjust the backdrop to hide wrinkles using Lightroom. Lightroom is another type of photo manipulation software, similar to Photoshop. In Lightroom, you can adjust the saturation, luminance, and contrast of the photo to conceal the background’s wrinkles. You can also use the brush tool to make your background look flawless and crease-free.
To learn how to do this, watch this video by The Photoblogger. He gives you a step by step guide on how to turn your wrinkly backdrop into a seamless one:
Shoot With a Shallow Depth of Field
When you shoot photos with a shallow depth of field, it makes the backdrop blurry since the focus is on your subject. This is a wonderful technique you can use to hide wrinkles if you don’t have the time to remove them or edit them out of your photos physically.
To do this, bring your subject farther away from the background and use a fast shutter speed. You can also use a wider aperture with a lower f-stop, meaning the photographic lens has a wider opening, to help create a blurred effect.
If you need help figuring out how to do this, watch this clip by Paul from Photo Genius. Paul explains the different camera modes and tells you how to set up your camera to achieve the blurry, out of focus background you desire. He also goes over the aperture and the shutter speed settings you’ll need to use to obtain a shallow depth of field:
Shoot With Flat Lighting
Flat light is lighting that has very little contrast, so there is little difference between the highlights and shadows. This makes the photo look incredibly flat, almost like its 2D. Wrinkles are more difficult to see when there isn’t much contrast in the picture. Therefore, if you shoot your photos with flat lighting, you may be able to hide some or all of the wrinkles.
To get flat lighting, you need the direction of the light to match the angle of the camera. The light should be broad instead of direct to help you achieve a soft, flat look. Lastly, make sure the light falls evenly on your subject and backdrop to achieve minimal contrast.
If you’d like to learn more about flat light and how to get it in your studio, check out this tutorial by SLR Lounge. The photographer in the video demonstrates how to acquire flat lighting to hide wrinkles and create soft, flattering portraits:
There are plenty of ways to get wrinkles out of your vinyl or muslin backdrop. You can use heat, water, a combination of the two, or gravity to remove the wrinkles. If you are short on time, you can remove the wrinkles on your computer with Photoshop or Lightroom or with your camera by creating a shallow depth of field or shooting with flat lighting.
Once your backdrop is wrinkle-free, hang it up to prevent adding new wrinkles. If you don’t have enough space, roll your backdrop to prevent deep folds from developing.
- Wiki How: How to Get Wrinkles Out of Muslin Backdrops
- Brighton West Video: How to get wrinkles out of your backdrop
- YouTube: Travis Gadsby: Quickly removing wrinkles from your Muslin Backdrops – Studio Photography Tutorial Silverlake Photo
- Digital Photography School: How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop
- Vispronet: How to Get Wrinkles Out of Vinyl Backdrops: 4 Easy Steps
- YouTube: andrewesquivel: How to get creases and wrinkles out of Muslin Fabric (Backdrop fabric)
- Savage: Vinyl Backdrops
- FOVITEC: HOW TO GET YOUR MUSLIN FABRIC BACKDROP WRINKLE FREE
- Half Price Banners: How to Get Wrinkles out of Vinyl Banners
- Digital Photography Forums: Help with wrinkles in Muslin Backdrop
- YouTube: PiXimperfect: How to Clean Wrinkly Backdrops in Photoshop
- Improve Photography: What is Flat Light?
- Improve Photography: How to Remove Wrinkles from a Muslin Backdrop in Your Photos
- Backdrop Express: How to Get Wrinkles Out of Your Muslin Backdrop
- YouTube: Photo Genius: How To Blur Backgrounds – Depth of Field for beginners – Bokeh made easy!
- YouTube: SLR Lounge | Photography Tutorials: Flat Light For Flawless Selfies And Portraits | Minute Photography
- Chicago Canvas and Supply: The Pros and Cons of Muslin Backdrops