Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bet you can make this Tracing Light Box in 10 minutes and for FREE!

I did!  Well, I made it with things I had laying around the house.  But, if you have to buy anything I bet you can make this Tracing Light Box for under $5.00 easy!

What you need:
  • A white box - I used one that held computer copy paper.
  • A 16 x 20 picture frame with glass - go to Salvation Army, yard sale, Goodwill, etc., and get the ugliest and cheapest one you can find. 
  • A sheet of tissue paper.  Only one - yep.  Preferably without a ton of wrinkles in it...
  • A lamp.  (Don't tell me that you have to go buy a lamp *lol* THAT is not in our budget!)
The first thing that you will need to do is to discard the computer box lid, open the two end flaps of the box (so you have a flat piece of cardboard, and the reassemble your box inside out.  Leave one of the ends open for the lamp and securely tape the other end closed.  Your box will then look something like this ~

Now take your ugly frame and get rid of any cardboard or paper backing (you can't see through that, you know *winks*).  Just keep the frame and the glass.  Set your frame on top of the box with the back side of the frame up.  Make sure your frame sits securely on the box and that nothing wobbles!  Now comes the tissue paper fun!

Take a piece of plain old ordinary cheap tissue paper and lay it on top of the glass.  My frame has these little bendable points in it which hold the glass in place.  I slid the tissue paper under the points.  If your frame doesn't have anything like this, make friends with your local picture framer and ask them if they could put some in your frame for you.  They may charge you a little bit, but it will be worth it!

Now you are ready to test this out!

Shine your lamp or bright flashlight in the box.  I like this lamp because I can aim it where I want the light to go.  Also, although it does get hot (it is kind of old), I can keep it from touching the glass, frame and cardboard.  And I never leave the light on in this tracing light box on when I am not tracing!

Does it work?  You bet!

Put your photograph, drawing or whatever you want to trace on top of the tissue paper.  This little image of Fiona is on regular photo paper from an ink jet printer - so it is heavy, but not as heavy as chip board.

That's a regular piece of 24 pound Xerox copy paper on top of the photo paper.  Voila!  That's photo paper is pretty heavy and I can still see the details well enough to trace them.
Here's a few last minute details...
  • DO NOT LEAVE THIS TRACING LIGHT BOX UNATTENDED.  You know - lamp, heat, hot, paper, cardboard - like, don't start a fire, okay!  Turn your lamp off if you are not tracing.  If you can trace from another room, I want to know what planet you are from and whether your arms telescope or stay that long all the time.  If your planet is not nice, nevermind - I don't want to know about the arms after all.
  • BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU HANDLE THE GLASS.  Please*please*please* always be careful when you handle any kind or any size of a piece of glass.  Do not use your glass to slice and dice any body parts.  NO!  That is NOT in the instructions!  NONONONO!
  • BE SURE THAT YOUR FRAME IS FIRMLY PLACED ON YOUR BOX AND THAT YOUR BOX IS ABLE TO SECURELY SUPPORT THE WEIGHT OF YOUR FRAME.  In other words, please do not create a landslide that involves your box, frame and glass.  Please!!! 
  • BE SURE THAT YOUR BOX IS ON A GOOD SOLID TABLE AND THAT NOTHING WOBBLES.  No wobbling box, no wobbling frame, no wobbling tables are allowed!  No*no*no*no!
  • BE SURE THAT YOUR GLASS IS SECURELY HELD IN YOUR FRAME.  If you can't get your picture framer to help you out with those really fun little flexible points, then glue the glass in the frame.  That is why we bought a cheap ugly frame.  Glue the glass in and you will never be tempted to use this frame to put your artwork in it.  *shivers at the thought*
And - last of all, have fun and look at all the moola you just saved!  Go check out what a tracing lightbox this size would have cost you.  Yep, you can get a fancy coffee now - or, if you're me - you can make a trip to Pralines of Prescott for some real chocolate!

Happy tracing!

Not in Prescott and you still want great chocolate?  Pralines of Prescott will ship it right to you!  mmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!


  1. TY for the tracing light box info. Does this kind work for taking photos too? I still love the aceo I got from you. ♥Patti Panda

  2. Great idea, thanks for sharing. LOL at your last minute details.

  3. BackyardNaturePhotosSeptember 29, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    Great ideas & I promise I won't burn the place down. Hey, would you believe I don't own a small light?

  4. Thanks for the tutorial and I wanted to add that a flashlight would work in a pinch.

  5. Excellent Kathy!! Thanks for sharing ;o)

  6. Awww - thank you, Patti! I have another lightbox that I made that works much better for taking pictures. I will be sharing that one soon (LOL - I hope "soon")

    Thanks, Marlene - hehe - yeah, just thought I should mention them... hehe - especially the chocolate!

    Please, Jane, tell me that you DO own a flashlight! LOL - or else no more late night critter watching for you! Seriously - a bright flashlight will work great in this, too.

    Thanks, Kim - so very true!

    Thanks, memories - me, too!

    Thanks, Carole =)

    Thanks, Stacy! You are welcome =)

  7. BackyardNaturePhotosSeptember 30, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    hehe, silly me didn't think about that. Thanks for taking such good care of me & yes, I do have some flashlights.

  8. LOL - I would miss you, Jane! You are welcome =)

    Thanks, Pam!

  9. Wow, Kathleen. I was going through the old EtsyBloggers thread to find something, and saw I'd missed this post. I'm so glad I saw it! This is going on my "GET THIS DONE RIGHT AWAY" list. Thank you!!!

  10. You are welcome, Anitra - this works really good for me!


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