Submitted by Iggykoopa, May 9, 2014, 12:29 PM.
Well we’ve decided that we’re going to add a section to our new blog titled “Hobby Process Improvements”. The goal is to bring you some new things that might help in the overall process of this wonderful hobby… whether it be painting on gems to make them look more realistic, how-to paint guides, tips for making movement trays, etc, etc. And hopefully it will help make your lives a little bit easier when it comes to these miniatures, because we all know how delicate they can be.
I’m dipping back into an old post that I submitted a couple years ago but I think it’s worth reposting as this item is something I still use to this day. Here’s the very first of our Hobby Process Improvement articles: The Photo Lightbox.
I do lots of painting and frequently upload the completed models to various sites and blogs in order to get some feedback. Now we all know that it’s nearly impossible to capture how well a model really looks in person on a camera… And so it’s up to us to make sure we get as close to “real” as we can get. That’s where this lightbox comes in handy. I struggled with this for years before I came across a couple of sites that showed how they took better pictures… One thing that I came across that seemed to be a common theme was the lighting of the model when you take the picture. I had just been using 2 pieces of white paper and a fluorescent light above it, and that was it. Here’s how I had been taking photos of the miniatures:
The good thing about this project is that you can get everything you need for about $10 from either Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby (weekly 40% off coupon, woot!). It took me a total of 45 minutes from start to finish and the return on investment of both time and money was well worth it. Here’s the materials I used.
You can make the lightbox any size you want but I decided to go about a square foot in length. I started by cutting out four 12 inch x 12 inch pieces of foamboard and set two of those to the side as these will need further modification. These two will need to have another square cut out into them and I went 2 inches in from the edge. I also cut out two 3 inch strips that are 12 inches in length. So far, this is what you should have:
Next what you should do is have the glue gun plugged in so that it’s hot and ready to go. Take the two square foot pieces and glue them together so that they are perpendicular with each other. Once glued take the two pieces that have squares cut into them and place them on either side, so that it’s starting to look like a 3D box. Take one of your pieces of 3 inch foamboard and glue it across the top so that it holds the two top pieces together. I know that was a lot to take in, so how about a picture of what you should have so far?
Next take the wax paper that you bought and cut it into pieces that are big enough to cover the cutouts on the side pieces. This serves as a filter to drown out some of the light that will be coming in from either side and help to give it a brighter, richer look once you begin taking photographs. You can simply take some scotch tape and apply it to the wax paper and then tape it against the foamboard. Here’s what you should have:
Lastly is the blue piece of foam that will serve as the background. You can use blue paper or spongy foam that can be found at Hobby Lobby and Walmart. Either way it will work. The blue color helps to stand out against the light and really makes the models pop so I would recommend using a light blue as opposed to any other color. I glued one end of the blue foam and then let the rest of it sort of slope downwards into the front of the lightbox. Here you go:
And here’s what it should now be looking like once you have it all glued together and the blue foam applied:
The only thing that’s not pictured is my use of another clip on light. I usually use 2 lights on either side of the lightbox and one fluorescent light on top. This way it eliminates any shadow that might be trying to creep in and thus make the model really stand out once you take pictures!
To really drive home my point of how well this works, here’s a before picture of a Deathwing terminator:
And here’s one with lightbox:
A huge change! Simple and very easy to make and one of the most effective things I’ve ever made and still use to this day. I post a lot to my blog so I try to take some good pictures and having this lightbox really helps to deliver some good photos. Hope this will help you out for your picture taking in the future! Let me know what you think!