A quick and easy way to take photos of your miniatures with a DIY Lightbox 🙂
Now that you have managed to paint some beautiful creative spaceships, you’ll want to be able to show them off to the rest of the world 🙂 And to give them the look they deserve, you might consider creating a little lightbox so that even your mobile phone pictures turn out no less than fantastic. This is such an easy thing to do and creates a big impact when sharing your work on social media or “just” with your friends and family.
Why a lightbox and what does it do?
Now, you don’t have to study photography to understand that light is vital to be able to take a good picture. Ever tried to take a picture at night without a flash? Yeah that doesn’t work… Unless of course you are very creative and still think it turned out as a great portrait in some fashionable modern art sort of way. So our only option is to add light, and as soon as you add light to the equation you will unavoidably also add shadows. And sometimes you would want to have shadows in your photos, but have you ever seen the shadow of an X-Wing gliding through the emptiness of space?? Didn’t think so. So one of the main benefits of using a lightbox is eliminating shadows and thus making the photo more believable to our eyes.
The only shadows found in this picture are created from the light of the exploding Star Destroyer…
A lightbox eliminates the shadows by diffusing the light. In other words, make it less harsh and direct but instead soft and broad. This is typically achieved by putting a “screen” of some sort in between the light source and the subject. In our case the easiest, cheapest and probably best option would be to use tissue paper. Very thin, almost translucent, white paper.
Another way to eliminate shadow is to counter it by using a second light source coming from the opposite direction. The shadow created by the first light source will simply be overpowered by the second light source. If you add this to the diffusing factor of the tissue paper you should end up with no shadow at all.
The last thing a lightbox does is create a neutral (mostly white) background without any sharp edges. You can substitute the thick white paper background I used in the picture above with any other colour or pattern to change the effect. Sometimes black has a very cool effect on the miniatures. As you can see, the white paper in the back is curved slightly to create what they call an “infinity edge”. This is simple technique to avoid any harsh edges in the background and on the final picture. Simple yet very effective 😉
How to make a Lightbox
This is possibly the simplest and cheapest way of doing this. Feel free to elaborate and experiment at home 🙂
All you need is the following:
- Some sort of cardboard box (mine is 22x19x19cm. / 8,5×7,5×7,5in. but I think a bit bigger would be better)
- Box cutter knife and scissors
- Duct tape
- A sheet of thick white paper for the background
- Tissue paper (enough to cover three sides of the box)
- 2 light sources (LED table lamps with yellow glow would be ideal)
Start by cutting off the foldable side flaps from your cardboard box and cut three windows (two on the sides and one on the top). The bottom part of the box will be where your background goes and one of the sides will now be your bottom. You can cut out any sides you want as long as you leave two adjacent sides untouched. You might have to stabilize the former bottom side of your box with some extra duct tape.
Leave enough space on the frames of the windows so you can tape the tissue paper to it. I didn’t add any tissue paper in my own lightbox as I haven’t bought the right lamps yet to shine through the screen. But I’m sure you can imagine the process 😉 Now all you have to do is add the infinity edge by cutting the thick white paper so it fits snuggly into the box and curve it along the back and bottom sides.
That’s it! As simple as that 🙂 Your DIY lightbox is now fully operational.
Take your beautifully painted minis, stick ’em in the box and show off those mobile phone (or of course DSLR) capabilities on your social media feeds.
*As you will probably notice on my pictures there are still some shadows to be found, simply due to me ignoring my own advice and leaving out the tissue paper as well as a second light source… This is for illustration purposes only. If you do it right, your pictures should look a lot better than mine 😉
I hope you enjoyed this simple and short guide and I can’t wait to see your results on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.
May the paint be with you