Instructables

[Question about diffusing light] ... Making a Tron costume. How can I diffuse the LED lights to look more smooth?

Alright, so I'm making a Tron Legacy outfit for NY Comic Con in a few days. It's a spin-off of Kevin Flynn's black robe, which is basically a robe with a light on the borders of it. Pic below.

Now, for many reasons, I'm using LED strips instead of EL wire. The problem is that the LEDs are so bright that each individual light shines clearly through the white shower curtain that I'm using.

Do you guys know of any really good ways to diffuse this light so that it looks smoother? When I lift the curtain higher from the strip, maybe about an inch, it becomes more diffused. But since I will be sewing this to my garment, I'm not 100% sure how to keep the shower curtain higher above the LEDs at all times.

Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Picture of [Question about diffusing light] ... Making a Tron costume. How can I diffuse the LED lights to look more smooth?
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lemonie3 years ago

See what synthetic stuffing does. The white synthetic filler that you get in stuffed-toys, cheap cushions etc.

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jamesdavis86 (author)  lemonie3 years ago
This worked really well! I bought a bag of polyester fiberfill, which was pretty cheap for a big bag. The lights were diffused nicely. Although it gives the trim of my outfit a flush feeling, it still worked really well. Thank you so much!
+ 2

A brillig solution
psyfect lemonie3 years ago
Nice. A bag of cotton balls (walmart) might work nicely too; strip the cotton out evenly.
lemonie psyfect3 years ago

Cotton is less transparent, but yes.

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Kiteman lemonie3 years ago
+1

lemonie3 years ago

I'm pleased that worked.

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psyfect3 years ago
Maybe cover the lights with thin strips of aluminum foil (curve around them like a 'u' shape to reflect light out toward the underside of the wire) then put the lights in upside down (so you get reflected light)? If it's too bright, Sharpie the foil black or try a different material.
frollard3 years ago
If the individual pixels are too bright/spaced too far apart, place 2 strips side by side staggered so the mean distance between the diodes is smaller.

then do as others suggest and use whatever materials you can find to deflect the light.

May I suggest plexiglass cut at an angle (very shallow) with a rough sanded edge? the internal reflections/refraction should 'widen' the light area from each pixel. It's the same concept used in side-lit lcd monitors (what the ipad does iirc)
Polycarbonate makes great light pipes, any edge that is polished smooth will be transparent but any side that is 'sandblast' finished (foggy) will glow brightly.
thegeeke3 years ago
Look for a "frost" gel. It is used in stage lighting to help smooth and dispurse the light. There is another gel that is even more effective,that they use on led stage lights, but it is extreamly expensive, and I guarentee you that your leds are not anywhere as bright as stage leds.
sshuggi3 years ago
Have you tried spraypainting the cord with white paint? You'd have to get the right thickness, but it could help.
sshuggi sshuggi3 years ago
If you have the money, what you're looking for is electroluminescent wire. Or, simply, EL wire. Here's some on amazon for like $12, but you can do a bit more searching from what you need.
jamesdavis86 (author)  sshuggi3 years ago
Thanx for your reply. =.]

I'm not going the EL wire route because I find that it is not bright enough for my tastes. Plus, I would be installing it into something that's always bending and always flowing, and it is known for not handling that very well.

I have to admit, though, that is a really good deal on EL wire because when I was searching before I couldn't find that much for that cheap (though, it's really $20 as the shipping cost is $7, but still...). I was able to get 15 feet of led strips for $11 somewhere on amazon, so I jumped on that deal.