I love the feeling and depth that shadow boxes have, and thought it would be a perfect way to display the fighting scene between Gandalf and the Balrog!
- Hot glue gun
- Circular saw
- Soldering iron
- X-acto knife
- Nail gun
- Wood glue
- Palm sander
Step 1: Making a Template
First of all, it's important to have a template. Either if you draw it directly on the paper or you create it digitally, we got to have one. I personally prefer making my templates digitally, and then print it out. If you want to use my template, download the .pdf file, and you'll get all the separate layers! If you want to make your own template, it's important to remember to print out every single layer on its own, in order to avoid any mistakes.
Step 2: Prepare Your Template
So, when we've got our template in mind, we can draw it onto the paper we'll use, or just print out the template we created digitally.
Step 3: Cut Out the Layers
We can't use regular print paper for this, we got to use some thicker paper. (Just using some thick sketching paper, nothing fancy). We're taping that to our print and onto the table, and then we'll cut out the pattern with an x-acto knife.
Step 4: Making the Box
Now, we need a box to put these paper layers in. We're gonna use MDF, because it's more sturdy than cardboard, but it's easy to cut and work with. First, we cut a long strip that's 10 cm wide. Then we cut that piece into the 4 sides we need. We need it to be just big enough to fit an A4 page snuggly inside it. To assemble the box, we're using some corner clamps, wood glue and a nail gun.
Step 5: Fixing Up the Box
We'll paint the box black with some acrylic paint to make it more plain and elegant. Just giving it a quick round of sanding first, so that it feels more flush and smooth.
Step 6: Making Support Corners
The paper isn't gonna hold itself, so we have to make some sort of support corners to fix that. We'll cut 4 squares of cardboard for each layer - it really doesn't have to be more fancy than that. To make the space between the layers even, we mark up where we're gluing them on. The front layer is 1 cm in, and then 2 cm between each, which should leave about 3 cm for the electronics at the back. We only need hot glue to fasten the cardboard.
Step 7: Adding a Switch and Power Input
I want to be able to turn the lights off and on, so we'll drill a hole for a switch. On the other side we're drilling another hole for the power input. Before continuing, we'll just do a quick layer of paint again to cover up the cardboard and the new holes.
Step 8: Electronics
So, here's our plan (look at the schematic). We're connecting the positive wire from the power input directly to the switch, and the negative wire from the power input to the LED strip. From the other side of the switch, we'll add some wires to the LED strips that goes round the whole inside of the box. It's actually pretty simple.
Step 9: Wiring Up
Here we can see how it's wired to the switch.
Note: The left half of the box has red LEDs, while the right half had cold white LEDs. It's just to create the right effect for this particular motive. It could be cool to try some RGB lights if your motive is right, but I felt since this motive has got both flames and magic in it, it would be kinda wrong to mix around the colours.
Step 10: Attaching the Layers
Finally, we can attach the layers! At the very back we just need a full white paper. On other shadow boxes I've made, I've used thinner paper here, because it will let more light through, but it's usually not necessary. Another cool effect you can make on this back layer is a starry sky effect - you just have to use a needle to poke tons of holes in it, and it will look like stars!
Anyway, we're just adding the layers in the correct order, using hot glue again.
Step 11: Adding a Back Piece
We'll make a back piece using cardboard. To make it a bit prettier, we'll paint it black and add some black tape to the edges. The most important thing to remember is to add a layer of aluminium foil to the inside, so that the brightness of the lights is strengthened. Finally, we glue the whole thing shut!