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Light Box Extravaganza


Department of Art + Design, College of Art + Architecture, University of Idaho



Course Level

Particularly useful for online courses employing 3D.


Conversation points for instructors

The Light Box project is valuable anytime the course requires online critique or 2d documentation of 3d work. Due to the 2020 pandemic and the need for physical distancing, all work was moved online and to Zoom/videoconferencing-- as I told my students: “We cannot critique what I cannot see.”


I introduced this project to my class as a non-graded element. While I do not give extra credit, using a light box to document and present work well can inadvertently raise grades.


This project was adapted from the online sources listed below.



Project Prompt / Challenge

Your challenge is to create a light box to photograph 3d artworks for professional documentation and presentation.



  • Find an appropriately-sized box (larger than the work you want to photograph). Remove its top and front.

  • Using a ruler and pencil mark out a “window”  two inches (2”) from the edge on each side of your box.

  • Using a utility knife, cut out and remove the windows you drew on each side.

  • Measure paper to fit each window.

  • Glue the measured papers to the cardboard covering windows.

  • Cut a large piece of paper into a rectangle. Its width should equal the inside of your box and the length should equal the height and depth of the box.

  • Next, with binder clips, attach the top of your large paper rectangle to the top of the back, inside of the box.

  • Now, with more binder clips, attach the bottom of your large paper rectangle to the bottom front of the box.

  • Do not crease the paper! The interior paper needs to drape from top to bottom like a skateboarder’s half pipe.

  • Place two (2) lights to the side and one (1) above your light box.


Large cardboard box, white paper (to diffuse light), utility or exacto knife, adhesive (tape or glue), binder clips, three (3) light sources, daylight light bulbs, ruler, pencil.


This project should take 45min-60min. (Please see links below)


Online / Video Resources:

Additional Tips:

As the instructor, you are in the unique position to see into the future. For this project, it's helpful to require the light boxes be sized to fit the other projects you are planning for the semester. Also, make sure the boxes are big enough to photograph work easily, without the sides of the box encroaching on the image. For example, for a jewelry class, a shoe box may be appropriate, but if your class is creating chainsaw grizzlies, you may want a refrigerator box.

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