What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Light Box?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2019
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A do-it-yourself (DIY) light box can be used in photography to control the light level. This kind of light box can be constructed from a cardboard box, tissue paper, and white poster board. A box that is used to view photographic negatives may also be referred to as a light box. This type of DIY light box can be made with a piece of glass resting on supports.

Many photographers use light boxes to help control light while photographing objects. Light boxes are typically small enough to fit on a table top, though they may be larger, and allow the amount of light that is captured by the camera to be precisely controlled so that the photographer can achieve optimal results. Light boxes can be customized to provide different colored backgrounds, although a white background is most common.

It is possible to make a DIY light box with a cardboard box, white tissue paper, white poster board, and tape. One pair of the opposing flaps on the box should be removed, leaving the other two flaps intact. Next, windows should be cut into the sides and top of the box, but not in the bottom or back. The windows should be as large as possible without damaging the stability of the box.


White tissue paper should then be taped over the windows that were cut into the sides of the box. This allows light to enter the box, but diffuses and softens it for an optimal effect. The white poster board should then be cut to the size of the back and bottom of the interior of the box and taped onto those surfaces.

The DIY light box is now complete. Lights can be placed above or around the sides of the box in order to create the desired light effect. The flaps that were left on the side of the box can be opened or closed as desired to further control the light coming into the space.

"Light box" can also refer to a box with a transparent surface on the top and opaque sides. Lights are located inside the box so that items sitting on the glass can be lit from underneath. These types of light boxes are often used by photographers in order to view film negatives and, sometimes, to produce very precise work. They are especially helpful in tracing images. This kind of light box can be mounted on legs, turning it into a light table.

One can make this sort of DIY light box with a piece of frosted glass or Plexiglas® and something to elevate the glass, such as two bricks. The glass can be placed on top of the bricks. A lamp, flashlight, or other light source should be placed under the glass, allowing light to shine up through it. Although crude, this DIY light box is completely functional.


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