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What color to paint a studio?

Matt Buser , Nov 12, 2008; 09:45 a.m.

I am looking to make a studio in my home, and it will involve some remodel, what is the best color to paint the walls and ceiling for a portrait studio? White, off white etc etc etc. Just looking for some expert advice.

Thank you.

Responses

A. J. Jacobs , Nov 12, 2008; 11:24 a.m.

I don't know what the *best* color is, but mine is green :) (like a pine needles or sage-y green). Then again it was an office before I turned it into my home studio, so... I'm guessing people might say white.

Garry Edwards , Nov 12, 2008; 11:34 a.m.

Matt black. This gives you maximum possible control of your lighting, without bounce from white walls ruining everything. Coloured walls are even worse than white, they introduce colour casts.

Of course black is a pretty depressing working environment, so a good compromise might be to paint the ceiling black, paint the walls white and have black drapes that cover the white walls when you're shooting.

Mario Monti , Nov 12, 2008; 04:00 p.m.

I've only had experience with my white/light colored living area.

I will tell you it's not fun trying to control the light from bouncing everywhere.

I now wrap three of the sides of the room in a large black 10x20 foot Muslin. The ceiling I can't do much about just yet. With the black in place, controlling the light is easier.

That being said, a flat/matte/non-reflective black is probably best. However, black is a depressing color for your model's to have to see.

Grey is probably you're best choice. Perhaps you can get a sample of studio grey background paper and match it up at you paint supplier.

Just my 2 cents...

-Mario

Joseph Wisniewski , Nov 12, 2008; 04:19 p.m.

We've got a 12 foot ceiling. There's a sort of molding at 8 feet where we removed the drop ceiling. The first 8 feet of the walls below the molding are white, the upper 4 feet of wall ad the ceiling are black. The back wall has a 14 foot wide curved cyclorama (white, obviously). The studio is 24 feet wide, 36 feet long. If it were smaller, I might have gone for all black walls, but the walls are far enough from the cyc that controlling light isn't that hard.

Mark Hartman , Nov 12, 2008; 05:34 p.m.

I prefer gray for the walls. I suppose they reflect some light, but I don't really mind for my style. It also depends a bit on how big the area is. I have enough space that I don't have too much bouncing around, but if your room is small, you may have more of an issue. The attached shot is using one of the actual walls and just the natural light from the windows. I find having the walls a color I like to shoot with saves on seamless paper too!

Matt Buser , Nov 12, 2008; 08:41 p.m.

Thank you, this is all great information.

Looks like something dark would be the right choice.

Stacy McKenzie , Nov 13, 2008; 09:33 a.m.

you could do two adjoining walls black and the other two white.

Chris Waller , Nov 15, 2008; 05:57 a.m.

White with full length black curtains on a curtain track running around the walls. Avoid coloured walls - reflections put a colour-cast on everything.

Chad Geist , Aug 23, 2009; 10:58 a.m.

The studio I'm currently building will be in my 1 car garage. Here's how I'm am going about it. I ran some heavy duty wire/wash line the full length of either side of the garage & ancored the ends in the concrete foundation block. Then bought some 80" long black curtains for the wash line. This is conveinient becase the curtains can be shifted around so u don't have a permanently "gloomy" black room. In addition, for a good muslin holder I did the same for the width of the gargage on the back wall. Bought a black (& a white) 10' x 20' muslin. If 2 lines in the back are ran the white could always remain for when u decide to switch back to high key. All u would need to do is remove the black insteady of physically swaping each muslin out.

Now my thoughts for the ceiling are still up in the air. I could paint the ceiling either black or dark grey. hmmmm... Maybe there's a way I can stetch some black plastic table cloth across the ceiling instead. U can purchase this via 100' rolls. ...but fighting to keep it from drooping may become an annoyance. So, I don't know I might just paint it.

The key here is to minimize all light bounce but u already know that. That's just how I'm going about it.

C. Everett Geist

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