Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to make a functional light box, on the cheap

If asked a word to describe me, I'm pretty sure my friends and family would include the word 'cheap'  (I prefer frugal, but whatever) and for this little project, I outdid myself.  I actually saved a minimum of $50, because this project cost me $0!! (thats right, not one red cent. I happen to have all the materials needed around the house, and I bet you do to)

*Cardboard box
*White fabric
*Tape (I used a roll of electrical tape I had laying around, although I wouldn't recommend using it for your project. It doesn't like to stick to fabric very well)
*Clamp on light
* A bright white daylight bulb
*White paint and paintbrush
*White piece of paper/poster board

I happen to have this box still laying around from Christmas so I put it to good use.
First, I cut out the top and two sides, leaving about an inch border around each cut-out. (in the future, I would probably leave 2 inches around each cut-out, It would've made taping the cloth easier)DO NOT CUT the bottom or back of the box.
*save the cutouts! You will need them later...

This is what mine looks like from the top.
Next, you will want to paint the inside edges white.

Then find an old white's one!

(yes, that is my explosion of a closet, even though my boyfriend would be mortified I showed you, lets take another look...)
Just for the record, I'm usually the chick who has a place for everything and everything in its place, but hey, something's gotta give...YIKES!  ;)

Ok, so I cut the shirt up the side and through the middle of the armpit. Then used the cut-outs I saved as a template on how big to cut my rectangles. NOTE: I cut the rectangles about an inch larger than the template on all 4 sides. (I did all of the cutting by eye, who has time for precise measurements anyway?)
(Side note: after I made the first cut into the cloth, I almost had a panic attack because I thought it was my boyfriend's shirt. A quick look at the tag, size small, confirmed that it was just a shirt I have no recollection of ever wearing. Whew!)
Anywho, back to the project...
Next, I taped the cloth pieces to the outside of the box, making sure that it was taught.

This is what the inside of your light box should look like at this point, well, hopefully a little nicer than mine.

Next, take your poster board and cut it lengthwise to size of you box. Place it inside the box, making sure it curves down to the bottom. If you crease or bend the paper in anyway, it will show up in your photos. 
 Clamp the light so that it is pointing down over the top of the box and you are ready to shoot! I clamped mine to a curtain rod which happens to be at the perfect height for my box. 
Here are some examples of pictures I took with my new light box.  I used absolutely NO Photoshop or enhancing in any way. 

Or how about this fun 'before and after'
Now for some real product shots...

Find pendants like this in my online shop


  1. Beautiful. You know I love a white background! No distraction from the masterpiece. So glad to have found a new post.

  2. Great tutorial! I've been using tissue paper for the sides. But I think the T-shirt is a much better idea! Thanks!