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Lightboxes: Trace Designs and View Negatives

Updated on April 4, 2010


A lightbox can be used for multiple projects and can be used by professional artists, crafters and even kids. Look at photograph negatives, transfer pictures or trace clip art and decorative boarders for scrapbooking projects.

Simply plug the lightbox into an electrical outlet, place the photograph negative that you want to view on top of the lighted surface. If there is an item that you want to trace – place it on the lighted surface, lay a blank sheet of paper on top of what you want to trace and trace it.

What is a Lightbox?

A lightbox comes in a more than one form. While researching them you will see lightboxes for tracing and lightboxes for photography, and even lightboxes to eliminate the winter blues. This article is related to the tracing lightboxes.

A lightbox can be homemade or it can be purchased from a retailer. A lightbox can be large or small. Some are lightweight and portable while others are the size of tables. The surfaces of some lightboxes are angled for comfort and others have a level surface.

All lightboxes have similarities however. They are primarily a box with four sides and a piece of glass or Plexiglas on the top. Typically the underside of the lightbox is left uncovered unless some type of reflector is used. A small fluorescent light tube is securely attached to the inside of the box – preferably not in the line of sight.

Are Lightboxes Expensive?

Lightboxes can be expensive but there are many that are not. Quality of construction, quality of components and size all play a role in the pricing of a light box. Lightboxes can range from well under one hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars.

Some lightboxes are expensive because they are large and are constructed with professional quality materials. The materials used in their construction may be stainless steel, high quality glass or Plexiglas (flush mounted) tops with precise edges for measuring purposes. To reduce shadows and hot spots the light source is typically a 5000K fluorescent lamps as well as a high quality reflector. The larger lightboxes often have multiple high quality fluorescent lamps. You can expect to pay two to five hundred dollars each.

Lightbox tables are typically on the high end of the price range. They are usually much larger and contain multiple high quality fluorescent lamps. You can expect to pay over one thousand dollars each.

Some lightboxes are less expensive because they are smaller and may be constructed of lighter weight materials. They are typically designed for non-professional purposes yet are perfectly fine for tracing and for looking at photograph negatives. The fluorescent lamps may not be as bright and there may be only one lamp per lightbox. You can expect to pay fifty to over one hundred dollars each.


Possible uses of a lightbox

Lightboxes have multiple uses. Tracing a picture in order to transfer it to another medium, looking at photograph negatives and scrapbooking are common uses. Scrap bookers find that they can be more creative and save money by making their own embellishments.

Tracing pictures from a coloring book is great to help children be creative.

Tracing designs from wall paper to make stencils save money and are much more original than buying readymade stencils. Transfer those same designs to fabric curtains or pillows.

Choose which photograph negatives to save and share.

Do you have a light box? How do you use it?


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      8 years ago

      I need a Lightbox to trace some artwork it must be 32X42" do you have one this size? If so, what is the price?

      Richard Hodges


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