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

Founding Editor Dave Merson Hess has worked in independent animation as a producer, director, and composer. As a media arts educator, he's taught workshops and/or developed curriculum for film-arts non-profit Aurora Picture Show, Rush Process Fest, DIY Animation Club, Zine Fest Houston, comedy incubator BETA Theater, Houston Independent School District, and the arts-in-medicine programs at Texas Children’s Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dave Merson Hess

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