A $20 DIY Animation Light Box That Requires No Tools To Make

I used to make light boxes for students of my animation workshops out of repurposed cigar boxes ($2), a hardware store candelabra lamp cord set ($12), a Dremel, a 5″ x 7″ sheet of glass ($2), and gaffer tape ($6, or free if you have a roll already). These were charming and very compact and I made several of them, but after using them for some index-card based animations, I set out to come up with something a bit larger and brighter, and with a lower profile.

After some art-store R&D, here’s the basic box I use for animating on the go, and that I suggest my students make as well. It’s portable, costs about the same ($15 – $20), and requires no tools to assemble. It also doubles as a sweet pencil box, and doesn’t require a power outlet.

To make it, you’ll need:

Here it is…the shadow box animation light box:

You may want to upgrade your light box with a reflective interior to increase its overall brightness:

  • Quicker: line the insides with tin foil
  • Slicker: line the insides with pieces of reflective card stock (I like Hygloss Mirror Board), cut to size with a craft knife and secured with gorilla glue or dry mounted with rubber cement
Dave Merson Hess

Dave Merson Hess

Dave has worked in independent animation as a producer, director, and composer. He is the Programming Director for Rush Process. Since 2013, he has taught workshops in DIY animation production via BETA Theater, Aurora Picture Show, and DIY Animation Club.
Dave Merson Hess

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