November 9, 2011

DIY Tutorial Series Creating a Lightbox Part I of III

Our latest DIY Tutorial is the first of a trilogy on the beauty, benefit and creation of your very own light box for product photography. The series is coming to you direct from Judi FitzPatrick Studio, my favorite Photog! I can't begin to thank my Mom enough for contributing to this series, her shop photos always come out so beautiful and I begged her to do this writeup to share her knowledge! Enjoy :-)


Good Day Readers,

First I want to thank Jenn for asking me to write a guest post on creating a light box. These can be very useful for photos of small products.

Do you need to photograph small products? Do you want to do this indoors, but can’t find a spot with good light? Or, maybe you need to do your photographing after dark? One solution is a light box.

Rather than spending a lot of money to buy a manufactured one, why not make your own? It’s easy, inexpensive, and fun to do!

What You Need

- One fairly heavy-sided cardboard box – the one I used** was approximately 12 inches (30-35mm) on each side.
- At least 3 sheets of white tissue paper such as used for wrapping gifts
- Scissors
- Box cutter or other sharp bladed knife
- Duct tape or other wide tape
- White and/or black poster board
- Pen or marker
- Tape measure or ruler

How to Create the Box

Be sure that one end of the box is taped shut and the other remains open. On this open end, cut off two of the opposing flaps, but leave the other two in place.

Place the box so that the end with the 2 flaps is facing you, and the flaps are to your left and right. From here on I will call this the front.

Place an X or other mark on the left side, right side, and top. This will complete the orientation of your box.

On the 3 sides with the X marks, draw a border or frame on each, 1 to 1.5 inches from each edge – so you will be drawing a square (or rectangle), just smaller than the size of a side, on each of 3 sides.

With a box cutter or other bladed tool, such as an Xacto Knife, very carefully cut on those lines, leaving the frame around each side. These openings will allow light into the interior of the box.

You will want to diffuse your light source, so this is where the white tissue paper comes in. Cut three pieces of the paper, one for each side, larger than the openings you cut, but smaller than the size of the box side/top. Using the wide tape, attach one piece over each of the openings that were just cut.

Your box should now look something like this:

Position the box with the front facing you, with the two flaps on either side, and the left, top, and right sides those with the tissue paper.

Inside the Box
- Measure the depth of the bottom of the box (front to back).
- Measure the height of the back of the box. 
- Add these measurements together.
- Add a few inches for good measure (pun intended) & note it on a piece of the cardboard cut off (scrap)
- Measure the bottom of the box from left to right (width) & subtract about ¼ - ½ inch.
- Mark and cut a piece of poster board to match these two measurements.

FYI, the poster board I had was 28 x 22 inches. I left the 28 for the long measure and used 11 ¾ for the short measurement (left to right.) This allowed an extra 3 or so inches to hang out of the front of the box.

- Slide the poster board into the box and gently curve it upward close to the top – push it in enough to make a large base surface but not so far that it would crease.

That’s it! You now have a DIY light box. Next time, how to inexpensively light it up!

Peace to all, Judi
Judi FitzPatrick Studio Etsy Shop
Judi FitzPatrick Studio Zazzle Shop
Judi FitzPatrick Studio Red Bubble Shop
Judi FitzPatrick Studio Blog
Difficulty rating is 1, but not recommended for young children due to the use of sharp bladed tool.

** Please note: Because Judi had already created her lightbox long before I asked her to contribute this article, the first 3 pictures are of mine so they may look different than the 4th box picture, collaborative effort!

To read the entire series...
Part I of III - Creating the Lightbox
Part II of III - Illuminate the Lightbox
Part III of III - Camera Position


Judi FitzPatrick said...

Thanks, Jenn, your pics look great and I appreciate this opportunity to help your readers take better product shots.
Peace, Judi

CSD Faux Finishing said...

Glad you approve of the pictures! I loved making this and can't wait to grab a bit of posterboard today so I can finish it off and start using it. Had to use painter's tape (the heavy duty kind) but it worked like a charm!

Totally looking forward to getting your other two up and posted as well :-) THANKS again! You rock :-)