Hobby Process Improvement #1: Picture Lightbox!

Ok all, so if you follow my blog then you’ll know that I’m constantly posting pictures about my many ongoing gaming projects… you’ve probably also noticed that I’m constantly asking you to forgive the bad pictures that I take of my stuff. I have been having lots of problems when it comes to taking pics of my minis and I always get some decent pictures, but mostly bad pictures with several bad lighting angles.. So anyways, I had finally gotten to the point where I am tired of it and, after perusing the several other blogs that I frequent, I found a lot of inspiration to make a lightbox that will help me to better capture the true image of the miniatures I’m trying to photograph.

Here's the method I have been using...

I set out to Wal-Mart and picked up everything I needed for under $10 and the total time it took me to complete this project was just under 45 minutes – that’s start to finish. So if you take pics and post them to your blog or forums then I’d recommend taking the time to do this as I have found there’s a drastic difference in the quality of the photos. Anyways, here’s the items I used in the making of the lightbox:

Not pictured: Tape.

First, you can make your box as big or small as you need to but I figured that about a square foot would be perfect… it’ll be able to capture everything from a single miniature up to a full sized squad. So it’ll get the job done. So I measure 4 sections of the foam board to be 12″ x 12″ and cut them out. Two of those cutouts need to have a square cut out of them as well, this is the opening that will allow more light to come in. Once you have these 4 cut out and the 2 inner squares cut out, you’ll need a small strip to place across the top (more to come on that in a minute). So here’s what you should have so far:

In other blogs, I found that people used toothpicks to keep their light box together, and that will work if you don’t have a glue gun. But since I do have a glue gun, that’s what I used on this one. So I had it plugged in from the get go so that it’d be nice and hot by the time I was ready to use it. First thing to do is put some hot glue on one edge so that it doesn’t dry out by the time you get the pieces together. I have found that if you just do the edges and then work your way across you’ll have a nice, clean join with no gaps from already-dried glue. After you glue two sides together then work on adding the other side to it, using the same gluing technique. Finally, add the backdrop (this is the full, un-cut piece) and glue it all together. So what you should have at this point is the two pieces with cutouts facing each other, and it should start to look like a box. Now, you could leave it at this point if you wanted, but I thought for a little extra support I’d use the small piece that we cut out earlier. Remember that piece? Yep, just glue both edges and put it on the front. This will add some extra support for the box and will help to make it more durable. So here’s what you should have so far:

Next is the wax paper. You will just need two small squares worth of this stuff. All you need it for is to cover the cutouts that you made on the sides of the box. This will help do drown out some of the light that you’ll have coming in from the sides so that it won’t make appear too bright. Once I cut the pieces of wax paper I simply taped them to the sides and then voila! It’s done. So here’s where we’re at:

Simple, yet effective!

Now that the box is pretty much completed it’s time to add the backdrop. For this, I used “Fun Foam” that you can get at Michael’s or Wal-Mart. It costs about $1.50 for a piece that measures 12″ x 18″. I chose to go with blue but you can use any color you want. Blue seems to be the standard for a backdrop in pictures so it’s what I went with… To install, I simply glued the top portion and then let it hang down so that it is at a curve, instead of down to the edges. In my son’s words, make it look “like a skateboard park”… Here’s what it should look like now:

Notice the "skateboard park" look...

So now we should be all done with the new lightbox. Here’s a few more pics to show what I had been doing and what I’ll now be doing with the addition of the new lightbox. Again, if you take pics as much as me and post to your blog or forums I’d highly recommend taking the time to create your own lightbox. Here’s what it will look like from now on when I take pics and post them to my blog:

So to drive home the point I’m trying to make, here’s before and after pics of the previous method I’d been using (2 pieces of white paper as a backdrop and a fluorescent light) and the lightbox method (extra light added to the side). Hope you learned a thing or two and, from now on, you’ll be seeing some better quality pics from me! Thanks for reading and let me know what you think! Thanks!

Before the lightbox.

With the lightbox.

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4 thoughts on “Hobby Process Improvement #1: Picture Lightbox!

  1. Thanks for the comments all! I was pleased with the way this turned out and for the new quality of photos that I’ll be getting now.

    @argentbadger: No, it’s not yellow at all. That is because of the yellow light bulb that’s currently in the lamp. I’m going to switch it out with a clear one soon. I think that’s what you’re seeing.

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