by Taylor Whitney

DIY Light Box Project

So as you probably know I am an artist. You might not know that I’m also a bit of a DIY freak. If I can save money by making it myself, I will. This was my most recent project. It’s a light box for tracing artwork to transfer it or change parts of it. It really comes in handy for illustration. The light from beneath allows me to trace an image onto a sheet of paper or bristol instead of redrawing. It’s especially useful to trace enlarged thumbnails of images into the full blown creation.

  1. Scan small image
  2. Enlarge to desired size on computer
  3. Print enlarged version
  4. Trace onto final paper in full size and complete details

Now that you know what it’s for, here is how I made it.

All of the materials I found lying around the house and are not very hard to come across by other means.

Supplies

  • Plexiglass poster display
  • Wooden shelves (any boards would work)
  • flourescent lamp
  • Screws
  • Brackets
  • Tape

Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Dremel
  • Hacksaw
  • Wood saw
  • Circular table saw

First I took apart the flourescent desk lamp so that all that remained was the head with the bulb and the base with the electric components. I mounted these to two of the shelf boards by punching holes in the metal with a hammer and nail and then affixing it with screws. I then cut pieces of board to the right dimensions for the supporting walls. I mounted these using curtain brackets that I found.

The plexiglass poster display was the most fortunate piece to come across to complete the light box. It was the perfect size and the angle is perfect for drawing. Using the hacksaw and the Dremel tool I cut out shapes for the cord and power buttons to come through. (Yes I know the buttons are upside down – it works better like that because you can easily reach over the top and press it with your fingertips.) I then slid tracing paper into the display to diffuse the light and give it as even lighting as possible. I taped the display onto the foundation with clear packing tape. I wanted to be able to easily access the inside in case I need to change the bulb in the future.

And that was that! The whole process took me about 5 hours and cost me nothing since I found everything I needed. If I had bought one of these new with the same dimensions it would have put me back nearly $190.

You can see it lit up here. The tracing paper did a nice job of diffusing the light. I’ve used it twice already and it works perfectly. Maybe someday when I’m a rich and famous artist (isn’t that an oxymoron?) I will buy myself a more professional one, but for now this one meets my needs perfectly.

I hope you found this informative and maybe you’ll be inspired to make one for yourself if you have the need. If you do send me some pictures, I’d love to see what you came up with!

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