V-Flats are one of my favorite things in the world! A V-Flat is a large movable peice that is used for shaping light and also can be used a backdrop. You would never imagine how useful a dumb piece of black and white foam could be. However, the perfect foam for them is not always easy to come by and never cheap but if you have a hardware store nearby you can throw together a pair of these pretty quick with minimal supplies and effort!
I recently challenged myself to create a whole slew of studio gear, including these v-flats, as well as a big 9x12 hand-painted canvas backdrop, and a pair of front and back textured walls. Best of all, I did it on a budget and made all of that for less than $400! Have you ever even googled “v-flats” and seen the price?! I’ll wait...
- 2 - ½in 4’x8’ foam insulation boards. I used the Rmax ones.
- 2 - rolls of Duct Tape: one white & one black (note: if you already have white and black gaff tape this is even better).
- Flat white paint (note: If you’ve been building the other things that I did or intend to, I recommend going ahead and getting a gallon. If you’re just doing the v-flats then 1 qt will be plenty).
- 1 qt of flat black paint.
- Paint roller and accessories
- Plastic Sheeting
You need to lay the boards flat on the ground to paint them. Sweep and clean the work area of any dust or debris then layout that plastic sheeting to protect both the V Flats and your workspace.
Step One: Painting your V Flats.
Lay out your first board on the plastic and roll on your white paint. Be sure to cover the entire surface with a nice even coat.
Stand the board up against something to dry and move on to the black one.
You may notice that you can still see through the first coat a bit but by the time you’re done with the last board. If you can see through your paint, apply a second coat or even third coat. Every paint manufacturer will require varying numbers of coats.
Move through all necessary coats on all of them, let them dry for at least one hour and then go through the process again for the opposite side with the opposite shade. You want each board to have a black side and a white side.
Step Two: Taping your flats into a V shape.
Using the white tape, run a strip all the way around the outside edge of each board. I find it easiest to do one edge at a time. I run one long strip from one corner to another, letting it stick to the edge, and then go back and, as neatly as I can, fold the tape over the edges. This will help protect the edges of your V flats. Moving them around can bang them up so protecting the edges will increase the longevity of your V flats.
Tape Them Together:
Lay the boards flat next to each other, with the same color facing up. Leaving about a half-inch gap between the boards, tape the boards together using the corresponding color tape. This allows the boards to swing freely in both directions. (Take a look at the diagram below.)
Be careful not to leave an imprint on your flat by kneeling on the foam by laying some thick cardboard on top of the boards so that your weight doesn’t indent the foam.
Once the center strip is in place run another strip on either side of the first, allowing them to overlap.
Once you have it all nice and neat, flip the boards over and do the same process for the opposite side.
And you’re done!