Art is hard. Take every advantage you can get.
This is a Do-It-Yourself light box that I built for zero dollars. All the parts were recycled from other projects. Perfect for the starving art student!
Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted a light box. The premise is very simple: put a light behind a clear surface, then draw on the surface. The light allows you to see through your drawing and trace it onto another piece of paper.
Not as easy as it sounds. A real light box is expensive. Holding your drawings above a light is awkward. You can use a window, but the light has to hit just right. Some of you have glass desks. This post isn’t for you; your life is complete already.
For the rest of us, the DIY light box is a cheap and effective way to trace drawings. Here’s how to build it:
If that doesn’t make it clear, I’ll give it to you in pictures also:
The materials were all from previous projects: an old drawing board, a piece of hard plastic that was left outside by construction crews, and bits of 2×4 left over from my Slow Goat.
The tools you need are a hand saw to cut the wood, and a power drill to make the holes. Beware if you are cutting plastic – my piece kept trying to shatter. Packing tape keeps the cracks from getting too bad.
The plastic piece goes on top of the board. Put the 2x4s on the back for stabilization. I used 2″ machine screws, washers and nuts to hold the thing together. All you have to do is prop it up in front of a light and trace.
Why use a light box?
But I can hear you saying: “Big deal, this guy is way too excited about a board with a hole in it.” –Biff, Back to the Future
Actually, Biff, a light box is a crucial tool that TONS of illustrators use. It lets you fix your mistakes without having to redraw the whole piece. You can evaluate your work and make it better right away. Some people don’t want to trace, but tracing your own work is one of the best things you can do to improve your drawing. If you want to improve your drawing, improve your drawings!
In other words:
I hope this inspires more people to make light boxes. It can only help your drawing!
Written by SCL
Edited by taylorjewel