[tutorial] Building a light table


Recently I was sketching a comic and had to draw reoccurring characters multiple times. I used a sheet of carbon paper to copy the outlines. But this method was not really enjoyable, so I decided to build a light table. I think the use of a light table has many advantages when you have to copy or alter things from a template.

I decided to make my light table 35×50 cm big, so it can comfortably fit an A3 sized sheet of paper.


5 mm frosted acrylic glass (35×50 cm)
roof batten (I think it was 45×20 mm)
tiny screws
old back wall of shelf unit
white LED strip (5 m)


I started with sanding the batten and cutting it into 4 pieces with 45 degrees angles, to fabricate the frame. I made all pieces 1 cm shorter than the measurements of the acrylic glass, so it has enough space to safely rest on each frame piece.

I reinforced the corners with tiny metal angles. Then I took a piece of an old Ikea shelf back wall and cut it to size to fit the frame as a bottom. I also cut four strips out of the same back wall, which will hold the acrylic glass in place later.

I secured everything in place with 1 cm wood screws. Next, I cut away an opening for the power chord of the LED strip. For this I first marked the outlines and then cut the hole with a pull saw and a chisel.

Finally came the time for installing the LEDs. For this I measured how many segments of the strip will fill the width of the light table and cut them to size with pliers.
Since I got a weather proof LED strip, it waas covered with a rubber coating, that I had to remove in order to solder the cut strips back together later.

I layed the strips about 10 cm away of each other and stuck them to the bottom plate with their self-adhesive back layer.

Before soldering all the strips together, I secured the power connector with a bit of hot glue.

After soldering each strip, I tested the functionality of the LEDs.

Since I had a lot of LEDs left, I decided to double the amount of LEDs, by inserting strips between the ones I already soldered in.

The result is quite nice. Here I am testing the light table with a print, that I did on 130 gsm printing paper with another sheet of that paper ontop and with a piece of 300 gsm watercolor paper – the thickest paper, that I have.

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