Homemade Lightbox
 
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  1. #1
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    Homemade Lightbox

    Let's face it...commercial lightboxes are expensive. But as an artist, it's hard to do without one. I was able to construct a good sized one on a shoestring budget. I obtained a large glass cutting board (it is tempered glass so it will hold up if you are a little heavy handed with your pencil), three small fluorescent lights (13 inch i think) that you can link together, masonite board, furring boards, stick on velcro, wood glue, and some nails.

    Cut the furring boards into 4 pieces to make a square the same size of the glass cutting board. Drill a hole in one side for the plug. Nail them together (carefully...I cracked a board. Might be better just to glue them instead). Cut the masonite board to fit, and glue & nail it to the back with tiny nails. The lights and the glass board are held together by velcro, so if there is any problem you can take the glass off to replace the lights. All this cost less than $50, and it's a honking big lightbox!

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  4. #2
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    That's a really good idea. I think I may try constructing my own.

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    Hahaha...I use a glass-topped table with an artist desklamp on the floor underneathe.

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    Thats a great idea. It looks nice and clean to. If you find yourself wanting more reflected light out of it hitting the base with some mirrors or just painting it white inside may give you a little more brightness. That also may be a horrible idea, Ive never worked with a light box before so grain of salt and all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon View Post
    Thats a great idea. It looks nice and clean to. If you find yourself wanting more reflected light out of it hitting the base with some mirrors or just painting it white inside may give you a little more brightness. That also may be a horrible idea, Ive never worked with a light box before so grain of salt and all.
    No, that's a good idea...I actually thought about painting the inside white to better reflect the light, but I was in a hurry to get it finished. I get plenty of illumination from the three lights, so it's no big deal.

    I like using it to transfer my sketches to clean paper for final inking or coloring, because my sketches get all messy and smeared after being reworked so many times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MCross View Post
    No, that's a good idea...I actually thought about painting the inside white to better reflect the light
    Tin foil, mate, tin foil.

    Also white acrylic board is better for this than glass. I don't imagine it would cost much more than glass.

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  9. #7
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    nice stuff, ive been putting my tv on a staticy channel and using that LOL

    or during the day ill use my window + the sun

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  10. #8
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    My neighbor just installed new patio doors and gave me the old ones. They're wood framed doors with a double pane glass roughly 3' x 6'. I'm going to turn one into a pallet after I strip off the wood, and the other into a light box with a 300-count white bed sheet as a diffuser. It's definitely not going to be portable, since each glass panel weighs roughly a 100 pounds. If I can pul it off, I'll post pics...

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    Tin foil, mate, tin foil.

    Also white acrylic board is better for this than glass. I don't imagine it would cost much more than glass.
    white acrylic or the semi translucent white acrylic or the clear acrylic?? Can light pass through the opaque white acrylic?

    I'm thinking of building an inclined lightbox cum drafting board.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLenG View Post
    white acrylic or the semi translucent white acrylic or the clear acrylic??
    Semi translucent, like the stuff on animation discs. I just find that it distributes the light more evenly.
    Plain glass or anything else totally transparent doesn't do that and you get a really bright spot where the light is.

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  14. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    Semi translucent, like the stuff on animation discs. I just find that it distributes the light more evenly.
    Plain glass or anything else totally transparent doesn't do that and you get a really bright spot where the light is.
    Thanks mate! I'll find that.

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    I think they do sell glass frosting spray that you can spray glass with so the light will diffuse more. I am going to take a trip to the store to see if I can find some. I haven't seen any acrylic panels in the stores I've been to, except for the clear and flexible kind from hardware store. Might work, if you can find one that is thick enough...just don't use incandescent light bulbs with it or it will burn and melt.

    Another idea, is that you can convert your drawing/drafting table into a light box. If you find glass or acrylic big enough to cover the whole table, you could cut a hole in the table and glue the panel to the table, and put some lights underneath. That way you get a lightbox/drawing table in one.


    Ilaekae, please do post pics...I would like to see it when you are done.

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    Michael's sold the frosting stuff (I haven't been there in a while, though). Home Depot carries the 1/2" plexi, but they won't cut it for you when it's that thick.

    Quote Originally Posted by MCross View Post
    Another idea, is that you can convert your drawing/drafting table into a light box.
    I have one of these glass-topped "L" shaped computer desks and I always figured that if I really wanted a desk-top light box I could just put lights in the built-in drawer.

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  17. #14
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    And here I've been taping my work to the living room window all these years!

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  18. #15
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    You can also buy the transparent plexi and sand it, it's not very pretty, but it works. My own home made light table looks a lot like MCross' except it's bottomless. The lights are screwed on thin 2"x1" 's instead. It makes it slightly more fragile but also lighter and more portable since there are no removable pieces.

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  19. #16
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    just remember not to use those very hot bulbs, tends to make the acrylic soft and in turn warps.

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  20. #17
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    My dad made a very good lightbox once...

    lined with tinfoil, good reflection
    used 1/4 inch plate glass acid-etched on one side, excellent diffuser
    wired a small fan into it for cooling
    only problem... and it's a big one... used regular light bulbs = even with the fan, work fast or burn

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  21. #18
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    I must ask you lads exactly what each one of you uses your lightbox for. Maybe I just dont draw enough or something, but personally I haven't really got a use for one. I can see animators using one, but a portrait artist, or someone who does commissions?

    And to answer any questions, yes I've used a lightbox before; in high school we had one in each art room.

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  22. #19
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    Hitnrun, lightboxes are generally used to "clean up" an image into a more finalized form. In the process of drawing something there will often be tons of construction lines, perspective lines, mistakes, random scribbles, et cetera... and one way of removing those from the final image is to trace it via a lightbox.

    Not everyone uses them, there are several other methods for cleaning up an image. For example some people use non-photo blue pencil to draw all of the sketchwork, go over the final lines with ink, and then Xerox it (which won't pick up the blue sketch lines). Others will hide the sketchwork behind the final rendering and carefully erase what little shows through (this is how I usually work).

    Another use, which you touched on, is in animation. It's a quick and easy way of duplicating elements between cels.

    Also of note, lightboxes are only relevant with either transparent mediums or in cases where you'll be having the paper show through (i.e. pencil drawings, inkings, watercolors maybe?). If someone is working with an opaque medium (i.e. paints, pastels) then there's no use since you can't see through the stuff anyways.

    Personally, I used to yearn for a lightbox, but having a tight budget I never got around to it and have learnt how to clean up my final work in other ways. Score one for being broke.

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