DIY Gobo Creations

March 21, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Gobo and Shadow Creations

A few weeks back I made a post relating to Gobo's (patterns which you make appear on various subjects). But I a recent project had me in a relative small space and using a patterned cloth on my subject.  I considered what if I could create light patterns from the cloth, but alas, I did not have the resources or even an overlay at the time to work with.

Not all is lost, since I owned the fabric, it is certainly possible to create your own overlays to use of a highly specific pattern that may not be available commercially, or available in a projector template that you could use in real time. With a little work, you can create your own library of custom gobo's with just a little effort.

In this case, I wanted to use a fabric, but in reality, it could be anything that you wanted to use to create the shadow pattern. You will need the following:

  •  Hard Light source, either constant or strobe
  • Support stands for the object you are going to create a pattern 
  • A light colored background (white, grey)
  • Your camera

Steps are fairly straight forward for this project;

  1. Adjust your light source at least 2-3 feet away from the object you are using as a gobo. This will give you a crisper image.
  2. Mount your gobo so that the light is reasonably just above the object.
  3. Your background should be plain (no patterns itself), and should lay flat. You can experiment with greys, whites, but obviously if the background is too dark, your pattern will not be distinct.
  4. Choose a position underneath your gobo so that you or your camera will not cause additional shadows.
  5. Turn off other lights in the room, so that the only light will appear from your light above the gobo and adjust light to get a shadow desired.

Camera settings can be tricky, especially if you have selected a dark background. It may be necessary for you to focus in manual mode. Depending on how you plan to use this pattern, the shadow created does not have to be crisp. A shadow too dark and defined may detract from the object or person that you are placing it upon. Try starting with the "program" mode on your camera and adjust your settings to the desired effect.

Once you have your JPEG file.;

  1. Load your primary subject
  2. In photoshop, choose file.. embed
  3. Select the image that you have created above
  4. Adjust size, position, and opacity as desired.
  5. Scroll through the blending modes to see if you can enhance your effect.


You can create gobo's and shadows from practically anything, so give it a try and you may be please at what you come up with!.




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