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Herdstone > Painting and Modelling > How to make an inexpensive light box


Posted by: Kawazu Jun 6 2011, 04:25 PM
Hello everybody! I have been asked how I made my light box shown in http://z2.invisionfree.com/herdstone/index.php?showtopic=19883&view=findpost&p=4292839. The function of this box is to create an environment with controlled and homogenous light:

user posted image

I am not a photographer, I actually "carve dogs for a living" (mrtn), so I took inspiration by internet resources, especially http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent and http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.com/2010/03/tutorial-photobox-selfmade.html. However, and how you can read from the title, mine is the hardcore cheapskate version, as not a single euro was drawn by my wallet in the making of this box.

So, what will you need is:

- a carton box taken from a local grocery store or a supermarket (free stuff! yay!); mine measures approximately 39 x 26 x 25 cm, but you can use different sizes and, more importantly, different shapes, as I suspect that a cubic box would serve even better

- whiter than white paper; I used a notepad that I got at a congress I attended last year

user posted image

I obviously glued it on the reverse wink.gif

- transparent paper, of the type used in technical schools (at least they use it in Italy), which I found at home - no idea where it comes from:

user posted image

you will need this for the windows

- glue stick (found at my university biggrin.gif ), scissors, cutter, a marker and adhesive tape (not shown in picture, you can also use masking tape):

user posted image


How to do it:
Sadly I have no pictures of the actual making of, but it's fairly simple.

1. remove the flaps from the top of the box, you want the roof to be completely open

2. on each vertical face of the box measure approximately 2 inches / 5 cm from the sides and draw the windows; on the front face I measured to the bottom, as I wanted to have free room to move the camera

3. time to cut! use the cutter to open the windows in the vertical faces. Be careful not to compromise the stability of the box!

4. take the white paper and cut strips that you will glue to the interior of the box - you don't have to be precise, the function of the paper is just to reflect the light. Just be careful to cover every spot!

5. take the transparent paper; cut pieces to cover the windows and fix them with the adhesive tape. My paper was slightly bigger than an A4 sheet, so it covered perfectly the bigger window on the back. Also cover the roof (which was bigger as the light will come from it!).

6. last, but not least, take a white paper sheet and use it as a background (as you can see in the first picture). You can also use a sheet with a colour gradient printed on it, but I prefer white - you can also add a background in photoshop.

The light source: a white light bulb (also called sunlight bulb) is probably the best idea. However, I have a normal yellow-ish bulb on my desk so I used that, and most digital cameras have filters that correct this issue. I use a desk stand to put the light over the roof of the box.

user posted image

The quality of the pictures!
I used to take pictures on my balcony on sunny days. However I never achieved good results, and that was only partly because of me sucking at taking pictures and because of a crappy camera. You don't really have much control on how much light gets to your miniature, and this amount of light is not very homogenous. This is where the light box comes in play.
Here are two pictures of the same miniature taken by similar angles with the same camera. Please note that these are the original pictures (i.e., before Photoshop), no adjustment whatsoever, except a resize, was used.

BEFORE THE LIGHT BOX:
user posted image

AFTER THE LIGHT BOX:
user posted image

I believe no comment is needed. I have a terrible camera (Canon Powershot A460), no tripod and I am a poor photographer, just imagine what would it be with a professional camera used by someone who knows what he/she is doing.


I think this is all. Credit goes to the aforementioned articles for the inspiration, I suggest to take a look to them also.
Hope this would be of any help! Happy painting and photographing to everybody! smile.gif

/K

Posted by: Chaotic_Monkey Jun 6 2011, 04:33 PM
This is an AWESOME tutorial! This is deffinitely something that I am going to try.

Oh, and BTW...that signature is BRILLIANT!!! thumbsup.gif

Posted by: mrtn Jun 6 2011, 09:49 PM
Great tutorial Kawazu, I'll add a link to it in the tutorial sticky.

thumbsup.gif

Posted by: Kawazu Jun 7 2011, 07:23 AM
Thanks for the feedback, I'm happy you guys liked it smile.gif

Posted by: Beastlord Karankawa Jun 7 2011, 12:40 PM
Thank you, Kawazu!

Great to see items that help the hobby and the pocket book! wink.gif

Posted by: Happy Scrappy Hero Pup Jun 7 2011, 01:25 PM
Thanks Kawazu! Great tutorial and project idea! biggrin.gif

Posted by: AimBob Jun 8 2011, 07:58 AM
Good idea! Did you use the flash on your camera or are these adjusted by your camera filter? (the picture don't look yellowish).

Posted by: Kawazu Jun 8 2011, 10:29 AM
QUOTE (AimBob @ Jun 8 2011, 08:58 AM)
Good idea! Did you use the flash on your camera or are these adjusted by your camera filter? (the picture don't look yellowish).

No flash! I think this is a point which is never stressed enough, in order to get good pictures of your miniatures you should never use a flash, it is better to control the amount of light that gets to the model with stuff like a light box smile.gif
I used a filter for tungsten bulbs.

Thanks everybody for the feedback!

Posted by: Chaos, MD Jun 8 2011, 07:08 PM
How much tweaking was done to the second photo, in an editing program? Any at all/?

Posted by: Kawazu Jun 10 2011, 02:21 PM
QUOTE (Chaos, MD @ Jun 8 2011, 08:08 PM)
How much tweaking was done to the second photo, in an editing program? Any at all/?

I can't remember the settings for the first picture, but I suspect they were identical to those of the second (as I tend to use the same settings for all my miniature pictures):

Iso100
exposure +2
tungsten filter (in the first I probably used a sunlight filter)
no flash
macro on (no supermacro)

other than this, no photo editing program was used (i.e. they're straight from the memory card) - except for a resizing in IrfanView.

Posted by: Chaos, MD Jun 10 2011, 03:47 PM
QUOTE (Kawazu @ Jun 10 2011, 09:21 AM)
...
other than this, no photo editing program was used (i.e. they're straight from the memory card) - except for a resizing in IrfanView.

Very nice, then. Very nice.

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