HOW TO INSTALL YOUR BACKDROP

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Within the many pages of this website and shopping cart system you will find plenty of information on the many products and designs that are offered. This Get Started page is more of an introduction and explanation for the line of backdrops offered by Trackside Scenery.


Downloadable/printable backdrop sample files are available for all backdrops and can be found in each product description. The samples are produced in PDF format and designed to print on standard 8.5" x 11" paper. The concept is to be able to print the samples and cut out each selection to create a virtual preview of a backdrop system you create. Modeling a backdrop before you finalize your selections and purchase (so to speak).



VIDEO - HOW TO INSTALL YOUR BACKDROP 

and more info below




About Backdrops

Trackside Scenery Backdrops
The majority of backdrops you will find at Trackside Scenery are repeating prints that offer a unique and innovative "trackside" view point and are described as such on the product information page. All backdrops with a trackside viewpoint were carefully designed to be scale proportionate or scale compatible where the backdrop meets the layout for your selected modeling scale. 

All backdrops offered can be used as a stand alone scenic backdrop but, may or may not be a repeating print. Please see specific product description for more information on the print style (see below for repeating design prints).


Design
Not all backdrops are created equal. There are many different types of backdrops that you can use to implement and enhance your modeling efforts. These backdrops range from hand painted to commercially available prints and substrates. Many would probably agree that any backdrop is better than no backdrop, but many times this is simply not the case. We've all had the pleasure of seeing great model and scenery work to be virtually forgotten or overlooked due to a distracting attempt at a backdrop. Backdrops are typically used to enhance and broaden the modeled scene and create an illusion of life beyond the layout or display. The job of the backdrop is to give the modeled area a sense of place and to do so in even harmony with the model work. Often times, a poorly done backdrop will steal the attention of the model work and become that one thing that viewers will remember.

There are many different styles of photography that are used in the creation of model and museum scenery backdrops. There are also many different perspectives that can make or break the overall scene and sense of place that you are trying to create. We've all seen the perspectives that  place the viewer in an airplane or " on top of the mountain" as a view point. There are also those perspectives that, when viewed from a certain direction tend to lean or distort elements within the image. 

My goal in creating backdrops is to lend the viewer a helping hand in placing themselves into the scene. Like the feeling one might get when watching a very well done movie on the big screen, our goal as modelers is to tell a story with our models and hope the viewer will be part of the big picture.


Printed Media 
Another often overlooked part of the creation and implementation of good backdrop is the media on which the images are printed. Decently sharp images with good color and depth are an important part of the equation as well. In this day and age, you can print on almost any material, but it is the make-up of that material which dictates how good the resulting print will be when viewed. It really does make a difference in certain lighting conditions. Every attempt should be made to print on a high quality photographic paper and, if possible, with a reduced glare finish such as "matte" or "satin" finish paper. High quality photographic papers will produce great backdrops that, to a decent extent, "reduce glare" in most lighting conditions.

You may find many commercially available backdrops that are printed on vinyl. In most cases, vinyl is chosen for it's durable quality and relatively low cost per roll for the printer. Unfortunately, in most cases, the vinyl is that which has a glossy finish and will not do well with glare under most lighting conditions. Another reason that many choose vinyl is that it is readily availability with pre-installed adhesive backing. It is a grand thought to have a peel and stick, plug and play approach to installing a backdrop for those with limited time. Weight the results before you decide on you backdrop printed media. Vinyl is great for wallpaper, banners and store signs, but I do not offer it for the very reasons that I do not offer my fine art and portrait prints on anything but high quality photographic papers.

Standard Print vs. Adhesive Back
With care and attention - installing your backdrop is easy. Today’s pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA's) leave very less room for error but create a quicker approach. With standard prints and spray adhesive - you have some time to make adjustments during the install.



Backdrop Selection

Trackside Scenery backdrops offer a variety of types which allow you to create your own overall backdrop system . When used in combination with each other, a seamless backdrop with a variety of subjects, scenery and elements can be created and reach almost any desired length. 

 

 

Types of backdrops

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 REPEATER SERIES REPEATER TRANSITION 
 

Repeats with itself despite length (provided you select the same scale and height). 

Repeater backdrops may be used in a combination of lengths to reach any desired overall length in a seamless fashion. All repeaters have the same image anchor on left and right sides. 

 

 

Repeats with itself despite length and also mates with any other backdrop in the same series despite lengths (provided you select the same scale and height) (e.g. VF-01 + VF-02 + VF-03 etc)

Series Repeater backdrops may be used in a combination of lengths to reach a desired overall length in a seamless fashion. All repeaters have the same image anchor on left and right sides although central image elements contain different subjects.

 

 

1) Used to transition from any  backdrop in one specified series to any backdrop in another specified series. (e.g. if you chose transition HH-VF, it would take any HH Series backdrop to any VF Series backdrop in the specified direction. See specific transition for example

or

2) Used to transition a specified backdrop to another specified backdrop which may or may not necessarily be in a series.

 

 
       
 Other types of backdrops may include "independent types" that are available in fixed sizes and are not designed to be a repeating style or transition.
 
 

 

How to select a backdrop that is right for you
Choosing a backdrop is easy once you find a style that suits you. Many styles you will find are offered in a backdrop series. Within each series of backdrops are many styles that can mate together to create an overall backdrop system of your own in a seamless fashion. Various lengths are made available for each style to accommodate an overall backdrop system that you create without a need to cut long prints such as a 96" long image to fit. 


For example: If you have 12 feet of wall for your intended space, it would be wasteful to purchase two 96"L prints and have to cut the second one to fit in the space . Purchase a 96"L and a 48"L to reach your goals. Additionally, you can purchase any backdrop within the same series and have them mate in a seamless fashion or use a transition print to go from one series to another. Transition prints are not repeater prints and are only used to transition from one series or style to another.


Repeating Design Prints

 

Remember to keep in mind that repeater prints (despite the length) repeat with themselves and can also be mated with other backdrops, within the same series provided you select the same scale and height. Additionally, with select transition prints, some backdrops can be thus mated to other backdrops in a different series and also some select stand-alone repeater styles that are not part of a series.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

Image below depicts how a repeating print works (always select the same scale, and heights for all backdrops)

Image below depicts how mating works with two different styles in the same series


All backdrops styles (e.g. VF-01) despite the length, are comprised of  the same basic design anchor in the image elements. and mate together in a seamless fashion. Length is not a consideration in repeating prints.  Start by selecting a scale, height and lengths that work for your intended space. The first step is to know what dimensions will work for your space. Once you know your dimensions, you can simply start with a style you like. Then select the height. Next, you can choose lengths with one or multiple prints to reach your goal. Remember, many of these prints are repeaters and can be placed side by side again and again to reach any desired length. As long as you choose the same height for each print, you can mix and match the lengths for that style. Again, length is not a consideration with repeating prints.

Backdrop Installation

VIDEO - HOW TO INSTALL YOUR BACKDROP






Mounting your backdrop
Feel free to contact me regarding any questions you may have about installing a backdrop. 

There many schools of thought on installing scenic backdrops and because there are different methods, there are many correct ways to get the job done. No matter the printed media, (photo paper, adhesive back material, or vinyl) the job is easy when done with care and, preferably, with a helper to hold the media up as you put it in place. I can tell you what I use and how I have done it over the years, although I will remind you that there are many correct ways to do it with great success.  

FEAR NOT! Many people choose an adhesive backed print because it offers a quicker approach with the peel and stick and plug and play appeal. Today's (PSA''s) Pressure Sensitive Adhesives leave less room for adjustment - similar to that of a postage stamp. Once it is pressed on, It is harder to make adjustments depending on your mounting surface. Give consideration to this when weighing your selections.


The first consideration is what you are mounting the backdrop against. If you have the advantage of installing your backdrop on a surface that is not yet installed on your layout or display, you can obviously get the job done very easily. Whether you install the backdrop on wood, drywall, or my preferred method of using gator foam or Masonite, the process is simple and basically the same for all forms. If you are installing on a painted surface, extra care should be given to making the surface as smooth as possible without sanding dust or dirt. 

Once you have your surface prepared, you can now go about installing the backdrop. Whether you are using spray adhesive or a pre-installed adhesive backing print, the process is to move from one end to the other. Vertically or horizontally, you should always open the print out and pre-fit to make sure you have it lined up. Rehearse the process with the print before you start as this will also give you the opportunity to see where a hard to reach area might be or spot any imperfections on the mounting surface.

Supplies for spray adhesive method: (again - this is what I use)

  1. Photographic paper prints are easy to install with readily available spray adhesive such as 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive found at your local hardware store.

  2. An implement to smooth out the surface of the print as you go. Use something that will not grab the print as is goes. I have used the binding end of a thin paper back book, a plastic painters spackle knife and a plastic squeegee. 

  3. Cheap plastic clamps such as those used in woodworking or model building.

  4. A reliable and cheap helper!

 

Spray Adhesive Installation Method - With the exception of the spray adhesive, this method works for adhesive backed backdrops.

  1. Line the print up in the starting position where you need it to be and clamp the starting end down as you roll the print out and inspect for proper fit. As you roll it out, rehearse the pressing down motion with your hand over the print. As you go, make yourself aware of any hard to reach areas and any imperfections that might need attention before starting the actual mount.. Use clamps as show in (1) to hold the print in place. If mounting vertically, have your helper hold the print up. 

  2. Have your spray adhesive shaken and ready to go per the manufacturers instructions on the can. Keep the starting clamps on the starting end of the print as shown in (2). Now, spray a light coat on the entire working area to get a light cover of adhesive working. This will start to set just enough so when you apply more it will really start to bit as you work your way down.

  3. Knowing that the print is lined up properly and clamped on the starting area, we are actually going to start spraying a few inches into the area first as show with green arrow in (2). Start spraying back and forth across the rolled print from (bottom to top in this case) and while spraying, keep making your way out about 12-15 inches. Apply enough spray to really get it to stick

  4. Once you work your way across and the central portion of the backdrop is secure, go back to the left side and apply glue to the left side and secure.


As explained, this is my method for mounting a backdrop. I make no insistance that this is "The Way" or even the "Best Way", but this method works for me and others that I have worked with.