How to Build A Light Box

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Are you looking for a way to take pictures of small items and look professional, maybe you’re a professional seller on eBay, or a blogger looking for a better way to display smaller items you photograph for the blog? If so you need a photographer’s light box.

What is a Light Box?

A light box is a lighted box used by photographer’s to photograph small objects. These light boxes are designed to create the perfect lighting and shadows for the items being photograph. As with a full size studio, the background is curved and there is a lot of lighting. If you take a look at the image below, you will see what a light box can do for you. Add more lighting in the right places and you can remove all the shadows. how to build a light box - results

As with most photography equipment, light boxes are expensive. To get around that expense, you can build your own in a just a few hours and if you have most of the supplies, you can do it for less than $20.

How to Create a Light Box from a Cardboard Box

I really do not talk much about DIY projects here, but I do plan on adding more DIY projects related to technology and new media. So today, I created a tutorial on how to create a light box from a cardboard shipping box and poster board. This is the first light box I have made and it isn’t pretty. Now that I know how to build the light box, I can make a better looking one. But then again, it isn’t suppose to be pretty, it’s a disposable light box.

To create a light box from a cardboard box, you only need a few tools and supplies.

Supplies Needed for the DIY Cardboard Box Light Box

  • 5+ white poster board. – You can usually pick poster board up for about $.30 from Walmart.
  • 1 Cardboard box. Pick a size that works for your items. Shipping/packing boxes work great!
  • White tissue paper. I use white tissue paper for gift wrapping. You can always use a different color if you want to add a different lighting effect.
  • Spotlights – You can pickup clamp shop lights for less than $10 (need at least 3)
  • Daylight bulbs – You can pick 100 – 120 (equivalent) watts in two and three packs for less than $15.

Tools Needed for the DIY Cardboard Box Light Box

  • Razor Knife
  • Scissors
  • tape measure
  • straight edge

1. The first step is to find a cardboard box big enough to display the item you want to photograph. For us, we always have a handful of shipping boxes laying to build a light box

2. Next, draw a line around the box on each side. About two inches from the edge on three sides. If you need more space, then draw the line on the flap as well. For this project, I needed a larger box and wasn’t able to use one. So to make the light box bigger, used the flaps.

how to build a light box

3. After drawing your outline, use your razor to cut the centers out on three side. To start the cut, push the razor into the cardboard on the line. If you start the cut from the edge of the box then you will damage the strength of the box.

Once the cardboard centers are cut, you will created windows on three sides.

4. Now all you have do is line the inside with poster board with the shinny side up. Deciding on how to do this is up to you. I ended up tracing the outside edge of the box sides to the poster board. After cutting out the box edge. Then trim the poster board down to fit tight.

5. After you are happy with the fit. Trace the window out for each fitted piece and cut it out.

6. When everything is cut out, then you will need to glue the poster board to the inside the box. I used a glue pen in hopes that it wouldn’t create waves and bubbles.

My idea didn’t work. The glue ended up creating a wavy mess. But it ended drying ok. I would recommend using a glue stick and make sure to remove any air bubbles that are created. how to build a light box

7. The next step is optional, but I found that it helped to defuse the light. To help defuse the light, I added white tissue paper to each window of the shadowbox. how to build a light box

8. Now that the box is completed, but the lighting isn’t right and isn’t bright enough. So I added three clamp shop lights and 90 watt daylight bulbs. But, using 120 watt daylight bulbs and more shop lights to get even better lighting would be best. Using the daylight bulbs brings a more natural color and not a yellowed tint like the above image. The below image has three daylight bulbs setup that were not positioned correctly but as you can see, the whites are white and not yellowed.

how to build a light box

Below are some test shots from some random objects that were near by that I used to see how well my DIY light box worked. All images were edited with light Adobe Lightroom 3 to crop away parts of the image I didn’t like or to brighten up the images that I didn’t have enough lighting. how to build a light box - results

how to build a light box - results

how to build a light box - results

how to build a light box - results

What do you do think? Try it out and let us know how it worked. If you have another DIY light box tutorial or know of a great one, share it here.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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