“Light boxes allow artists to improve their drawing process with a quick technique.”Jacob Cass, Brand Designer
Animator's lightboxes are extremely versatile pieces of equipment for animators and artists. An animators lightbox is also one of the most essential pieces of equipment to own if you’re a traditional animator since it drastically cuts down on the processing time it takes to duplicate each frame of an animated film.
In the past, animators, artists, and photographers that required a lightbox for tracing either had to spend a lot of money for a large piece of equipment or had to make it themselves.
Luckily, technology has advanced significantly, and animators can now buy a compact animators lightbox at an affordable price. If combined with a simple rotating stand and a peg bar, any animators lightbox can become part of a professional setup for a fraction of the cost.
From animation to tracing, sketching, and more, there is no denying the versatility of using a lightbox. A lightbox is a crucial tool for any artist that uses tracing as a cornerstone of their practice, including traditional animators.
In this blog, we list some of the best animators lightbox you can buy. In addition, we also discuss the benefits of using an animators lightbox if you’re a traditional animator, as well as some important considerations to keep in mind before buying a lightbox.
The Benefits of an Animators Lightbox for Traditional Animators
Image via Mustangbols
Animators lightboxes are an essential piece of equipment for animators when it comes to frame by frame, traditional animation. It allows traditional animators to create identical frames and make their edits to each frame. This drastically cuts the animation processing time in half when compared to just free-handing every frame piece by piece and cross-checking to make sure each frame looks the same.
Comic book artists have a similar process when using lightboxes. They can also use lightboxes for many things in comics, from getting line work out of sketches to using lightboxes to speed the process of creating final pieces of work for illustrations by combining reference materials with their artwork seamlessly.
Here's an interview with comic book artist Matt Brundage on how artists can use lightboxes as an essential tool for finishing quality work on deadlines.
An animators lightbox is used to trace images or patterns from one source to another. Many animators find that an animators lightbox is a tremendous time-saver and a satisfyingly efficient way to create traditional animations. Lightboxes are an especially ideal tool for animators and illustrators.
An animators lightbox allows for accurate repeats in pattern or subject matter. For example, animators may use a lightbox to trace an underlying, original image and then slightly alter its form or position to create different cells of images. A camera can then capture these individual cells to create the illusion of animation and movement.
Ultimately, an animators lightbox will save traditional animators time by allowing them to capture frames more accurately. Additionally, an animators lightbox also cuts down on the number of mistakes made by traditional animators, saving even more time.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Animators Lightbox
GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment via Giphy
Choosing the best lightbox for you will depend on the kind of work you need it for and your budget. Lightboxes come in a few general size categories, and there are a couple of things to consider before deciding which animators lightbox to buy. This includes things like price, workspace, light source, materials, and weight.
1. Price Point
Animators lightboxes come in a wide range of prices that range from as little as $30 to thousands of dollars. Deciding which lightbox to buy depends entirely on your budget and personal finances. Not only that but there are good quality light boxes available at affordable prices.
You need to consider the size of the drawing surface you need to complete your animations. This is an important consideration when choosing which animators lightbox to buy as they are available in various sizes.
Lightboxes are available in A4, A3, A2, and A1 sizes. The most popular sizes are A4 and A3, but your needs may require something larger. The size of the animators lightbox will also depend on the space you have available in your studio or art space. Larger lightboxes will work better for traditional animators.
4. The Brightness of the Lightsource
The brightness of animators lightboxes is measured in “lux,” and you’ll need to think about the thickness of paper or material that you want to see through and make sure your light pad has sufficient brightness to cope with it. Animators should try looking for an animators lightbox that uses energy-saving lightbulbs that won’t get as hot or burn out quickly.
The light adjustment range for animators lightboxes is also an important consideration to keep in mind. While all lightboxes have brightness adjustability, you might need something brighter depending on the type of paper you work with. This makes it better for those using their lightboxes for more than 8 hours daily.
5. Power Source
The power source of the animators lightbox you choose depends on your needs. If you require a bit more flexibility, a USB-powered lightbox might be best, while an AC-powered lightbox is sometimes the better choice because of the consistency in the brightness it provides.
The Best Animators Lightbox You Can Buy
Compared to the chunky fluorescent lightboxes of the past, animators lightboxes today are relatively thin, produce consistent light output, and have adjustments in brightness to account for different surface types.
Here are some of the best animators lightboxes you can buy:
- Huion L4S 17.7 inch LED Light Box A4
Image via Amazon
This animators lightbox combines the latest technology with over a decade of hardware knowledge to produce sleek, portable, easy-to-use lightboxes. The Huion L4S light box is perfect for 2D animators and is a good all-around lightbox.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-use alternative to traditional, cumbersome light boxes, then this is the ideal solution for you.
Its slim design and light weight make it extremely portable, and the adjustable control allows you to set the appropriate brightness level for you, which will remain set the next time you use it until you need to adjust it again.
It plugs easily into any USB outlet and provides a bright light source with eyesight-protecting technology.
- TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED Light Box
Image by Nezzy via Procartoon
TikTeck’s A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED Light Box is a slim, lightweight, and easy-to-use alternative to bulky and cumbersome traditional light boxes. The A4 Ultra-Thin is perfect for stenciling, 2D animation, Calligraphy, Scrapbooking, Sketching, Drawing, Quilting, X-ray viewing,, and any other application that requires the use of a lightbox.
If you need a lightbox but don’t want to be bothered with a large, clumsy, traditional model, this is the perfect choice for you. The slim design of the TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED light box makes it easily portable so that you can take it anywhere.
The adjustable light control allows you to set it according to your individual needs, and with the USB plug, you can power it from any standard USB source.
The TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin gives you all the functionality you need at an extremely affordable price, making it particularly appealing for anyone who needs a professional light box but doesn’t want to pay professional prices.
- Neeho Flip Book Kit With Light Pad
Image via Ubuy
The Flip Book Kit with Light Pad from Neeho is a little different from the other lightboxes as it comes with everything you need to start doing some flip book animation and get those creative juices flowing. It comes with its simple animation tutorial of a break-dancing man that you can copy to get the hang of things.
This animators lightbox is ideal for those just starting in traditional animation, and it has everything you need to get started, including a tutorial. The affordable price means you can’t go wrong with this one.
The lightbox itself is really thin and very lightweight, making it easy to take with you on the go, and the brightness levels are easily adjustable, making it versatile for many other crafts.
- Artograph LightPad 930 LX- 12” x 9”
Image by Mihcaels Stores via Pinterest
The Artograph LightPad 930 LX is a high-end and very durable lightbox ideal for all artists. A large range of brightness and a solid aluminum frame makes this lightbox the ultimate choice for serious artists, photographers, diamond painters, or vinyl weeding. The unique metal retro design makes it really solid and very stylish.
If you’re looking for a high-end lightbox with superior brightness, then the Artograph LightPad 930 LX is definitely for you, with its great build quality and excellent durability. The large range of brightness combined with the solid frame makes it an excellent choice for professionals or those looking for a long-lasting all-in-one solution.
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- Artograph LightTracer Light Box 10” x 12”
Image via Artograph
Artograph provides a lightweight, easy-to-use lightbox to make all of your projects easier. Whether you’re animating a character, sorting through negatives, or producing detailed drawings, it is ideal. The slanted surface and bright LED lights make it ideal for any use and convenient to take with you wherever you go.
The Artograph LightTracer lightbox is a compact, easy-to-use alternative to traditional light boxes. Its slanted surface makes it comfortable to use, and the LED light source is durable, with no bulbs that need to be regularly replaced.
Its small size and affordable price make it a great choice for everyone, from artists and illustrators to quilters, scrapbookers, and other home users.
- OttLite LED Light Box
Image by OttLite
The OttLite LED Light Box is extremely versatile.
With 9 large onboard storage trays coupled with a light surface that can fold out into a task lamp, the OttLite is quite impressive.
The square 14.5″ x 14.5″ drawing surface is great for most applications and relies on super bright LEDs.
Perfect for crafts and a general workstation, this lightbox relies on AC power, which will emit a constant light source that will be free of any flickering – great for reducing strain on your eyes for prolonged activities.
Overall, this light box is perfect for artists who like to go between several activities and want a one-size-fits-all approach to their lightbox.
- Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Panel
Image via Gagne
The Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Panel relies on AC power, and the LEDs shine bright and consistently for all-day use.
Additionally, the design of the frame and drawing surface itself is also uncompromising.
The frame is of a lightweight anodized aluminum coupled with a Plexiglas surface which ensures that it can withstand years of abuse.
And to ensure that it’s not a one-size-fits-most compromise, the Gagne Porta-Trace is available in more than any other lightbox on the market. These sizes include a 5″ x 11″, 6″ x 9″, 11″ x 18″, 16″ x 18″, and 18″ x 24″. You should have no problem finding the perfect animators lightbox for your preferred drawing surface.
Overall, this is a light box designed for professional application. Its body is strong and rigid and won’t need to be replaced after a few uses. However, you should expect to pay a premium given its high-quality design.
- US Art Supply Lightmaster
Image by Amazon.com via Pinterest
The U.S. Art Supply Lightmaster is one of the largest animators lightboxes on this list that is still affordable for most animators. This massive 17″ x 24″ lightbox is perfect for animators who want to transform their art desk into a fully backlit drawing surface.
This expansive and smooth drawing surface allows for long and expressive strokes that will be unimpeded because it is so thin. This animators lightbox also comes with both a measuring overlay grid and a circle template/protractor. This makes it great for precise measurements.
Overall, this is a great and affordable lightbox that doesn’t command a professional-level price tag. The thin and light body designs are also perfect for traditional animators.
- Copic Tracer LED Light Box
Image via Amazon
Copic is one of those names that has been a fixture in the art world for years – primarily through the Copic Markers. But they also introduced other artist supplies, including a LED lightbox.
The design of the Copic Tracer LED Light Box features an inviting design with smooth rounded corners. This animators lightbox is versatile and can easily be moved from your desk to your couch.
It is powered by a removable AC adapter, and it also features a gradual light source that won’t flicker or strain your eyes when working. The lightbox is available in both A4 and A3 sizes, and it should work for most drawing applications.
Overall, this is a professional-grade light box that features a bit more inviting frame design. The powerful LED light source is rated to last 50,000 hours and is great for full-day use.
Why You Need an Animators Lightbox
An animators lightbox is one of the most essential pieces of equipment to own if you’re a traditional animator. It drastically cuts down on the processing time it takes to create each individual frame of an animated film.
But with so many choices, it’s hard to know exactly which animators lightbox to choose. For this reason, it’s important to keep things like price, size, and brightness in mind when choosing a lightbox.
With the list we provided, you should have no trouble choosing an animators lightbox this will suit your lifestyle and professional needs. But none of these lightboxes is better than the other, it entirely depends on what you need and what you can afford.
If you want to grow your animation skills, check out our free masterclass, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!