Introduction: Super Simple Light Tent

Picture of Super Simple Light Tent

I was inspired to do this project after seeing the PVC light tent posted on the MAKE blog. This light tent uses a cardboard box, and some white material (Tyvek) and allows you to take reasonable photos of products such as bottles, watches, jewlery, small objects, etc. There is lot's of room for improvement but for the sake of 15 minutes I hope you will agree it's pretty good :)

Step 1: Select Materials

Picture of Select Materials

First thing to do is find your self a usable box. The box I used is a half of a resin plastic shelf. The dimensions are roughly 16" x 15" x 15". This size has handled most things I have put in it, however I think something a little wider would be easier to use.

Materials used

- Masking tape or other heavy tape (Duct, packing, etc)
- X-Acto knife
- Ruler
- Glue Stick
- semi transparent white material (Tyvek, White suiting/Ripstop nylon, bed sheets, etc)

Step 2: Cut the Box

Picture of Cut the Box

1) Lay the box flat

2) using the ruler add a 1" to 1-1/2" border to all sides of the box (top, bottom, left and right) - Essentially you want to cut a hole in all sides of the box.

Tip: don't forget to add a line on either side of the center of the box as it lays flat :)

3) Cut out the four panels of the box using an x-acto knife and cutting on the lines.

See the images below if the above is unclear.

Step 3: Assemble the Skeleton

Picture of Assemble the Skeleton

1) Open up the box and close the bottom of the box

2) Tape down the exterior and interior seam.

3) The Bottom of the box will serve as the platform for placing your objects.

Step 4: Wrap the Box

Picture of Wrap the Box

1) Using the semi-transparent material you have chosen wrap it around the box so that it covers 3 of the four sides

2) I used sign printing grade Tyvek and attached it using a glue stick.

Step 5: Add Continous Background

Picture of Add Continous Background

This is part of the magic of the light tent, creating a continous background in your images. To do this we add a piece of bristol board cut to fit the box.

1) Use the depth of the box + the height of the box as a rough measurement.

2) Cut out a piece of bristol board that matches the dimensions above

3) This creates a nice white platform to shoot your images against. Try using other colors, Blue, Black, etc.

3) Insert the bristol board into the box so that the edge of the bristol board is placed against the front of the box and th card board is allowed to curve like a wave, half-pipe, you get the picture (I hope :) )

As usual the pictures will make it all clear. :)

Step 6: Add Light and Enjoy

Picture of Add Light and Enjoy

1) Now that you have th box wrapped, and the continous background in place you are ready to take some photos.

2) I used a desk lamp, and a couple of Ott lights (13watt) for the apple shot in the beginning of this instructable.

3) for better/different results I am switching to the simple clamp style fixture used in the PVC light tent with 100 watt bulbs.

4) experiment with light location and diffusing the light that shines through the top of the box with other semi transparent material, nylon, etc.

The light entering the box will be diffused and the shadows will soften or disappear...

***NOTE: At this stage (or perhaps before) you can and probably cover the inside of the box with white as well, at least the frame. Or you could switch the white material from the outstide to the inside. I bring this up because It was pointed out over at ( that there is a black reflection in the photos produced using this box.
... I hope that will fix it :)

Step 7: End Result

Picture of End Result

Here are some examples of shots taken with this light box.. I am by no means a photographer but to my untrained eye these shots look pretty good.


Jayefuu (author)2010-06-19

Ohhh I get it! I came here with the expectation of it being a light tent. IE it weighed nothing. :p I had no idea how an apple related to camping! Nice box, I will be making one of these, thanks!

Anne Strauss (author)Jayefuu2016-01-07

Same here! I thought It would be a light-weight tent for camping, and I, too wondered about the apple. However, I am glad I clicked, because I never knew that light tents were a thing, but I am just beginning to take an interest in photography, and this will be just the thing for me. The design looks simple, low-cost, and really usable.

dingle (author)2006-05-02

Picture taken with newly constructed Light Tent. Thanks.

Gunk on Floor (author)dingle2007-12-24

woah, cool rings. What are those made of? If you made them I would definatley like to find out how.

dingle (author)Gunk on Floor2007-12-25

they are made of a high temperature Dupont material at the plant where i used to work,

corporatelab (author)dingle2013-07-17


NatNoBrains (author)dingle2011-01-28

Looks like you need a stronger light.

farzadbayan (author)dingle2010-11-09

Nice !

chazortiz (author)2013-02-27

Thanks for this instructable I used a smaller box and used parchment paper and I was extremely satisfied with the results.

sscarfo (author)2011-12-13

This was GREAT. Just built mine yesterday and pics are coming out nice.

Here's a link to the test pics on Flickr ( )

Only suggestion is that a person only needs to cut out 3 holes (the back doesn't need cut out, and the top flaps can be cut off). Keeping the back on makes it a bit sturdier.

stuuf (author)2009-08-18

Here's my version: I made the side and top panels from vellum taped to foamboard frames. The pieces fit together with tabs and notches so it's fully collapsible. The two origami photos underwent some minor contrast enhancement in Gimp.

Fun2Hold (author)stuuf2011-06-23

Those pictures are awesome. And I like the clean folds of your origami as well!

dingle (author)2006-05-02

Taken with newly constructed light tent. These are high temp micro molded pieces that my company makes, about the size of a nickel.

craftyv (author)dingle2011-02-25

You still need much more light.

NatNoBrains (author)2011-01-28

I edited mine to make it lighter in the background :)
For this you need a strong white light, like a dentist lamp.

Mrballeng (author)2011-01-17

I'm, for sure, making this. Thanks!

beehard44 (author)2010-10-24

you can toy around in photoshop to adjust the color of the piture so that the background is white

Puzzledd (author)2010-10-16

This looks great! I love that it's so quick and cheap to make for amateur snappers!

Puzzledd (author)2010-10-16

This is the bit I was missing when I made my own light box! Thanks for the tip!

maniacse (author)2010-09-22

excellent! perfect idea!

karlswain (author)2010-09-05

Excellent idea. I have a light tent but the door is quite small to get thing in and put of. I can make my own now, to the spec I need. Cheers for the instructable

jamwaffles (author)2010-09-02

With me starting a company soon, and needing pictured of product and all, this project looks brilliant. Also, I'm right in saying the light has to be white (not an incandescent) and everywhere to get rid of those really soft shadows you see? James

qwertyboy (author)2010-06-25

I made one too, although I need more lights.

dmitrydnk (author)2010-05-10

 Here are some eaxamples of how work.

dmitrydnk (author)2010-05-10

Tip: improve your photos with the photography postproduction web site .

KnexFreek (author)2010-01-15


KnexFreek (author)KnexFreek2010-01-15

 5 stars!

Sokje (author)2010-01-03

Def. doing to make this!
Great tut. ;-)

espboy (author)2009-12-24

A picture does not have to be centered to be good. Rule of thirds. But that isn't even using the rule of thirds....

arunn1986 (author)2009-09-18

awesomely done... simple and yet captivating... cheers!!

ReCreate (author)2009-05-15


BERTBOY13 (author)ReCreate2009-06-26

It is inside the Tent but its a tiny little world inside his tent lol

ReCreate (author)BERTBOY132009-06-26

a tiny world inside the tent? i don't get what you mean...

BERTBOY13 (author)ReCreate2009-06-26

He did take the picture in his light box but he recreated a tiny world inside it. lol was kinda rubbish lol

ReCreate (author)BERTBOY132009-06-26

oh yeah lol now i get it

iqsnaye (author)2009-06-17

very, very nice. I do embroideries-- on towels, bed linens, etc, I'm wondering if this will work for me. I am going to try it and see. 2 thumbs up, and 5 stars

ReCreate (author)2009-05-14

Its not exactly In the light tent

ReCreate (author)2009-05-14

Well then,That makes sense

scottamus (author)2007-04-24

Wow, I thought I'd found a lightweight tent to take camping. You're just lucky I'm a photographer too.

ReCreate (author)scottamus2009-05-13

Ha,Thats funny

ReCreate (author)2009-05-13

Yes,And Way to dark on the edges,He probably has a bad camera

bigfuz (author)2006-07-20

i went kinda McGyver on it and used glad press&seal; paper. came out okay/

firesketch (author)bigfuz2008-09-01

Nice : D

firesketch (author)2008-09-01

Sweet pictures man! I'm going to use a bedsheet, must make now! Props

visable_darkness (author)2008-07-05

Thanks! This is a great idea. May I ask where you got your Tyvek? I'd like to find a local retailer instead of buying online (so that I can build it today-of course!)

I got the Tyvek directly from 3M, (for Kite workshops) but you maybe able to find it at a home building center. If you do find it there the tyvek may have a logo printed in large letters across the surface, which will probably not be the best.. The only reason I chose tyvek was that I had it on hand and it was a little translucent, any white material that is some what translucent should work just fine. Good luck, Bill

stampnmichelle (author)2008-01-30

Great instructions that are simple to understand. Your suggestion to line the inside of the box as a good idea as if you look on the inside of the gold ring you can see the cardboard frame reflected there. Off to make my own box.

klinstifen (author)2007-02-25

I really like this...I liked it so much I used it in conjunction with my Instructable. My light tent is but a meager attempt compared to yours, but still yours was the inspiration. Nice job! You snapped some great pictures. Where did you pick up your lights? I figured a chain store like Target would have some clip on desk lamps, but they didn't! I try to stay away from Walmart....any ideas where one could obtain lights that would work well for this?

guitarteacher (author)klinstifen2007-10-04

Clamp reflector lights at Home Depot - cheap, and they'll clamp anywhere. I used them for years when I first got into photography (couldn't afford anything else!)

Deborah Marcotte (author)2007-08-11

Nice job ! I own a commercial version and this does the job just as well.. thanks

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