Makeshift light box ideas: For drawing, animation or photography

Many of us are working from home yet that should not stop the creativity. No one of these will replace the real deal, yet these mini work arounds can help get your creative fix.

The Window

Not always ideal as it is very much weather and daytime dependant, yet making use of a window makes for a great natural light box, you are only limited to the size of the window and the time of day. Masking tape works best for attaching your work as it is less likely to damage your work or leave a sticky residue on the window when removed. Just be careful with condensation this time of year and remember not to leave your work up over night.

The Crate

This may seem a little crazy but it works. You’ll need a clear or semi opaque plastic crate with a smooth sides and a small lamp. Place the crate on its side with the lamp inside pointing up and attach your work atop of the crate. This setup works for smaller drawings.

CAUTION: Some lamps get very hot. Either use a lamp with an LED bulb that puts out less heat, or use this setup in short spells to reduce the build up or heat. Either way, use caution and be sensible.

The Screen

If you have access to an old monitor or television you can hook them up to a computer, from there you can either use it as a white screen as a makeshift light box, or display the work you wish to trace on the screen.

Possible downsides of doing this: The screen may not lie flat, they may pump out uncomfortable amount of heat and the screen could get damaged easily if too much pressure is applied with your pen or pencil.

The Tool Shed

If you have access to tools at home, there are many mays to make your own light box cheaply. If you are considering this route, there are a lot of tutorial online regarding box building, so here are some things to consider when fashioning a light box:

  • Only make it as deep as it need to be. A deeper the box makes the light more even, yet you lose light intensity. It’s a fine balance, so do some research first.
  • Make the inside of your box white or reflective, this will help bounce the light around improve evenness and overall brightness.
  • Use LED strips. Why? They use less power, give off less heat, will never need replacing and will not require you to make the box as deep. LED’s are also low voltage, so much safer to apply.
  • Acrylic or Toughened glass? Acrylic is easier to cut and cheaper, yet more flexible and not suited for bigger boxes without addition bracing. If you are buying acrylic make sure it’s OPAL, standard white acrylic tends to be too opaque and will not let enough light through. Toughened glass will need to be cut to size when bought and is more expensive, yet it will not flex. The glass will also need to be treated to make it white/frosted, the simple approaches are to either affix a sheet of tracing paper to the underside, or to spray the underside with white paint.

Making your own light box is a lot of effort, so make sure it’s something you really want to do.

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