How to Build a Light Table for Drawing 

How to Build a Light Table for Drawing! Have you ever wondered how professional artists achieve such precise and intricate sketches? The answer lies in their secret weapon – a light table! This game-changing tool enables artists to seamlessly overlay reference images onto their work surface, making capturing intricate details and ensuring accurate proportions easier than ever. But what if I told you you can build your own light table at home without breaking the bank? That’s right! In this article, we will guide you through constructing a budget-friendly light table for drawing that will take your artistry skills to new heights. Let there be light on your creative path!

How to Build a Light Table for Drawing 

Let’s dive into the details.

Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin, gather the following materials and tools

A Flat Surface: This serves as the base for your light table. A piece of plywood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), or acrylic sheet is suitable.

Opaque Material: You’ll need a sheet of material that diffuses light evenly. Options include white acrylic, frosted glass, or a sheet of white Plexiglas.

Light Source: LED strip lights are an excellent choice due to their energy efficiency and even illumination. You can find these in various lengths and colours.

Power Supply: Depending on your chosen LED strip lights, you may need a compatible power supply or adapter.

Wooden or Metal Strips: These strips will form the frame with the light source and the opaque material in place.

Screws, Nails, or Glue: You’ll use these to secure the frame and attach the light source.

Drill and Drill Bits: If necessary, you’ll use these to create holes for power cords and mounting brackets.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

If you’re using a table or wood, ensure it’s clean and debris-free. If you’re using a glass or acrylic sheet, ensure it’s clean and free from smudges or scratches.

Step 2: Measure and Cut

Measure the dimensions of your surface, as this will determine the size of your frame and the LED strips you need. Plan the measurements according to your intended drawing area.

Step 3: Create the Frame

Now, create a frame around the edges of your surface using wooden or metal strips. Follow these steps:

Cut the strips to match the dimensions of your surface.

Position the strips to create a border around the surface. Make sure they are flush with the edges.

Secure the strips in place using screws, nails, or glue. Ensure the frame is stable and level.

Step 4: Attach the Light Source

The next step is to install the LED strip lights inside the frame. Here’s how:

Measure the length of the frame’s interior perimeter.

Cut the LED strip lights to match this length. Most LED strips have designated cutting points.

Remove the adhesive backing on the LED strips and carefully attach them to the inner edges of the frame.

Step 5: Add the Opaque Material

Place the opaque material (e.g., white acrylic or Plexiglas) on top of the frame, covering the entire surface. Ensure it’s centred and smooth. Secure the material by attaching it to the frame’s edges using screws or adhesive.

Step 6: Connect the Power Supply

If your LED strips require a separate power supply, connect it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that any cords or wires are neatly routed and don’t obstruct the surface.

Step 7: Test Your Light Table

Turn on the light source and check the evenness of the illumination across the surface. Adjust the placement or distribution of the LED strips if needed to achieve uniform lighting.

Step 8: Start Drawing

Your DIY light table is now ready to use. Place your reference material or drawing on the illuminated surface and begin your artistic work with enhanced clarity and precision.


Building a light table for drawing is a practical and cost-effective way to improve your artistic workflow. Whether you’re a professional artist, illustrator, or hobbyist, having a customized light table can elevate your creative process and help you achieve precise results. By following this step-by-step guide and investing a little time and effort, you can create a versatile tool that enhances your drawing and tracing capabilities. Enjoy the benefits of working with even, consistent lighting and bring your artistic visions to life with greater clarity and precision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is a light table, and why is it used for drawing?

A1: A light table, also known as a lightbox, is a flat, illuminated surface for tracing, sketching, and other artistic tasks. It provides uniform and adjustable lighting that allows artists to work with precision.

Q2: What essential materials are needed to build a light table for drawing?

A2: Essential materials include a flat surface (e.g., plywood or acrylic), an opaque diffusing material (e.g., white acrylic or Plexiglas), LED strip lights, a power supply, wooden or metal strips for framing, screws or adhesive, and essential tools like a drill.

Q3: What is the purpose of the frame in a DIY light table?

A3: The frame holds the LED strip lights in place and secures the opaque diffusing material on top of the surface. It provides stability and even illumination across the drawing area.

Q4: How can you ensure uniform lighting on your DIY light table?

A4: Achieve uniform lighting by evenly distributing the LED strip lights along the inner edges of the frame. Test the lighting by turning it on and adjusting the placement of the strips as needed.

Q5: What creative benefits do artists gain from using a light table for drawing?

A5: Artists benefit from improved accuracy and precision in tracing and sketching, making it easier to work on intricate details and achieve consistent results.

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