Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DIY: Build Your Own Lightbox (pic heavy)

So I posted on Instagram that I was going to be making a new lightbox and asked if you guys wanted a tutorial. I got an overwhelming response of YES!!!!! So here it is! I bought a new lamp and wanted to creat a new proper lightbox to go with it. There are many ways you can make a lightbox, this is just how I've done it and what I used.


  • A box. You can use any size you want but as close to a square as possible. This helps the light bounce around properly without having any shadows. I am using a 12x12x12 box I bought at a local postal store for about $3.82 I think. You can totally find a free box, you probably even have one in your garage.
  • Tape. Lots of tape! I just use a clear shipping tape.
  • Scissors/Exacto Knife 
  • White Poster Board
  • White Gift Tissue Paper
  • A lamp.
  • Daylight Bulbs
  • Card stock or some decorative paper.
  • Decorative Duct Tape

Lightbox Tutorial:
1.) Get your box and tape down one side of flaps to create the structure of the box. 2.) Also tape down the flaps on the inside so that it lays flat when you add your paper.

3.) Cut away the flaps on the top of your box to create the opening where you will take photos. Then place the box on it's side so that the opening faces out. 4.) Then cut out one of it's sides leaving a 1" - 2" section all around for support. This is going to be the top of your lightbox and where the tissue paper will go. 5.) I also like to cover any exposed or cut edges of cardboard with tape to prevent from scratching me. 

6.) I got this 8 pack of long white poster board at Michael's which is perfect for this project. I know my box is 12x12 so it was easy for me to measure my paper to cut it. If you don't know the exact dimensions of your box make sure to measure your sides and cut your paper accordingly. I had this poster board from before so I don't remember the exact price but it was around $5. 7.) Now turn your box upright and tape the paper onto the sides on the inside of your box. You don't have to cover the bottom like I have but I just wanted to use my leftover scraps so I taped them to the bottom.

8.) Then take one more piece of poster board (I actually used two just because I'm OCD like that and wanted to make sure it was fully opaque) cut to the width you need but leave the length long because you want it to cover all the way from the top of your box to the bottom. This will create a curve in the background eliminating all shadows and creases. Tape where you feel necessary but where it will be out of frame of the picture. If the poster board is too long and sticks out of your box you can cut away the extra. 9.) Now take two pieces of white tissue paper, or if your box is small enough like mine just fold one piece in half, and tape it over the top of your box where you originally made the cutout. This will act as a diffuser to let the light pass through but it will leave a soft effect in your photos.  I got a huge bundle at Target for $2.99 but you can find some at the Dollar Store, or you probably even have some at home. 

At this point your box is complete and fully functional. You can totally leave it this way if you want. BUT, if you're like me, I wanted to spruce it up and make it look cute. I was totally inspired by @blisspolish on IG to go a step further. (I will talk about my light later in this post.)

10.) You will need three pieces of card stock or whatever decorative paper you've chosen. Tape one to each of the sides on the outside of your box. I got this card stock at Michael's for $0.25 each! 11.) Then take whatever decorative duct tape you've chosen and seal all of the sides. I found this really pretty floral one at Target for $3.39. I mean seriously how cute is this? It is super girly but it was the only tape that I liked. 

Now your cute new lightbox is fully complete and ready to use. Now you want a lamp that is tall enough to reach over the top of your box and shine through the center. Mine is a tad short so I just prop it up on another small box.

My Lamp:
If you don't already have a proper lamp, this is going to be the most expensive part of this project. I know there are other cheaper options out there but I just saw this and got it. I found this lamp at Target for about $40.

These are the light bulbs I use. EcoSmart 60 watt CFL Daylight Bulbs. They don't have to be CFL (compact fluorescent) but I like these because they don't get as hot. This 4 pack cost $10.97 at Home Depot. Now on their website it says these are discontinued but there are other options/brands. It may just be due to a packaging change or something. I don't know. But as long as you can find any sort of Daylight Bulbs you will be fine. Daylight bulbs are a nice bright white light and give the most accurate color in photos. If you are using a digital camera always be sure to set your white balance to get the the most accurate photo.

My light off and on.

Left: Photo taken with my Canon Powershot SD1400, unedited.  Right: Photo taken with my iPhone 4S, unedited.
I always use my Canon when photographing. I get a more accurate picture with it. (PS...ignore the dryness, I just got done building this fabulous lightbox!). I am just wearing two coats of OPI Nail Envy here.

So in total (without the lamp & bulbs) this cost me about $16 to make. A much more reasonable option then those fancy ones you can get online and it works just as good!!! I hope this helps some of you! If you have any questions at all please leave them below and I will answer all of them as best I can!


  1. Yes, yes, yes! Ty for posting! Definitely making one now! Hitting up Tarjey (Target) tomorrow!

  2. Best light box tutorial! Thank you! I'll be making one of these ASAP!

    1. Yay! Thank you! If you don't mind could you comment to me on Instagram or post it to my facebook? They are both LusterLacquer. I'd love to see you what you come up with!

  3. Just what I needed! Thank you so much!
    I am gonna make one for my blog :)

  4. Thanks so much - so I thought the sides had to be translucent too with the tissue, no?

    1. Yes you can do that as well but then you should have a light coming in through the side also.

  5. Awesome sauce! This is too cute for words and I must make myself one! I think I have everything except the bulbs.


    1. Thanks! That's awesome!! That's what I'm saying most people have some of this stuff already so it can be really inexpensive!

  6. I just finished making mine and it was so easy! I found the light bulbs on amazon for only $9.37 (with Prime shipping) once I get some pretty paper I will post mine on my IG (peacelovepaws) thanks girl xoxo

  7. This is a really useful post Colleen. What setting do you use when shooting with the daylight lamp? And what white balance setting you usually go for? I also recently got a daylight light bulb, but I have a hard time using it.

    1. Hi!! Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I stopped updating my blog there for awhile. Well, when I posted this I had a different camera. Now I have a new camera, the Canon Rebel t3i. At the beginning i used the Daylight white balance setting but it gave kind of this yellow cast to my photos so recently I've just been using the auto white balance setting.


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