Your tarp is the biggest element for establishing the visual identity of your ensemble. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure its as effective as it can be:
- Before you start making decisions about your floor, think about your rehearsal spaces. Are you able to rehearse in your band room? If so, what are the measurements of the room. We all fight for rehearsal space/time. The more rooms you fit in the better. Other things to consider for size of the tarp:
- Size of the ensemble
- Budget (tarp companies charge per square foot)
- Props size/location
- Don’t use a floor lighter than 13 oz.
- If you’re looking to save money, don’t be too afraid to paint an old floor. It will still cost a few hundred bucks in supplies and will likely take longer than you think, but it can be just as effective if you do it well. Here are a few tips for painted floors:
- If you’re painting over an existing tarp design, take the base into account. If it’s a solid color, use that color as the main color in your design. It could save you a bunch of time and money. If it’s not blank, can you create a design that uses some of the existing design?
- Don’t have a floor? Buy a blank one or a previously used screen-printed floor.
- Whether you’re painting or screen printing, be aware of whatever grid you’re going to use on the design. Cleaning drill is much easier if the design lines up with the same grid system as your dots.
- We must walk a fine line with the complexity of the design. You want to use the floor design to set the mood and help establish the visual identity of your group, but you also need it to fade into the background when you move the visual focus. Stay away from too much illusion of depth or three-dimensional designs. They tend to mess with the eyes and can make your visual package look dirty.
- Think about creating stages with the floor design. If you can create several defined stages on your floor, it’ll give you more staging options for moments that feel grounded to the tarp.
- The bigger the ensemble, the more I recommend leaning towards a simpler base image.
- If you’re using props, plan them out and make sure they’re grounded within the tarp design. The set needs to feel unified.
- If you’re screen printing, use a professional stock photography house to find an image to start with. I recommend using Adobe Stock, but there are several good ones out there. Don’t know what to search for? Type in “abstract background” and use it as a jumping off point.
A few more tips for looking for stock photos for use in the indoor idiom:
- If it’s an abstract design, vector (illustration) is better than raster (photo). To print on a tarp, you’ll likely have to enlarge the image quite a bit, so any raster image is going to distort. If buying a raster (photo), always buy the largest file offered.
- If you find an image you love, but it doesn’t match your color scheme, you can probably adjust the hue of the image with minimal editing. Adobe Photoshop is a huge application that can be intimidating but tweaking the color palette of images is simple.
- Hide a labeled grid on the floor using crosshairs. If it’s a painted floor, just mark it on the tarp. If you’re screen printing, include the labeled crosshairs on the design. It’ll help when you’re cleaning.
- If you don’t have someone on your team with experience in print design, reach out to other ensembles in your circuit and find out who they use. You could also reach out to the various tarp printing companies for contacts.
To help you get started, here is one of the template file I use to get started: