Introduction: LED Sculpture: Let's Build an LED Man!

About: Paper Crane Lab is a STEM education space in Bangalore, India that runs workshops and classes around the city. We are a group of enthusiastic teachers who love to experiment and combine STEM and the arts. Our …

The words LED and sculpture seem oddly placed together, don’t they. Well, what if you could learn about basic electronic elements, and at the same time, channel your inner creativity by making sculptures? Paper Crane Lab teaches you how to do this. Read further to find out how to do it!

If you would prefer a video tutorial of this, you can find it here.

Ages: 8+ (parental guidance required)

Activity duration: 1-1.5h


  • Soldering iron and solder wire
  • Helping hands stand (optional)
  • 3V battery 3V battery holder
  • LED of your choice of colour
  • 6 resistors (4 of them between 1-10 ohms, and the other two of any value)
  • Electrical wire
  • Wire stripper and cutter
  • Small PCB board
  • Switch

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Step 2: Circuit Diagram

Here is a basic electrical circuit diagram of your LED man sculpture. As you can see, four of the resistors will be used in the circuit, while the other two, being the arms of the LED man are not part of the circuit. The resistors used here are all of 1 ohm.

Step 3: Make the Head and the Body of the LED Man

Taking the wire cutter, cut the two leads of the LED. Make sure that before you do this, you carefully note down which end is positive, and which end is negative (the longer lead is positive). Make sure that in the circuit, you connect the positive end of the LED to the positive end of the battery as shown in the circuit diagram previously.

Once you have cut the leads short, solder two 1 ohm resistors onto each lead to form the body of the LED man as shown here. The resistor leads have been cut short to make the chest part as shown.

Step 4: Attach the Legs

To the two resistors, solder on two more resistors which have been cut short, and slightly bent to form the knees of two legs of the LED man as shown.

Step 5: Make the Base

In order to make the LED man stand, push the legs of the sculpture through the small PCB board to make it stand nice and firm as shown in the image. Now bend the leads on the other end of the PCB board slightly and solder it in place to make it stable.

Step 6: Attach the Arms

Now that you have the basic body ready, solder on the two arms as shown in the diagram, by cutting the leads a bit short, and bending it to form the elbows and the hands and place them however you would like your LED man's arms to look like.

Step 7: Connect the Battery and Switch

Now, based on the circuit diagram, we need to connect the switch to one leg, and the battery to the other, while soldering the switch and battery together. Ensure that the polarity of the battery is such that the positive connects to the positive of the LED.

First, connect two wires to the legs of the LED man. You can do this by stripping the ends of the wires, and soldering it to the legs of the LED man as shown.

Step 8: Complete the Circuit

Once you have this, connect the battery and switch with the correct polarities as shown in the images. Now you have an LED man that glows!

Step 9: Customize

Now you can hide the switch and battery inside a box as shown in our video, or add more circuit elements to make it interesting, like creating a drummer, or a guitarist in a music band. Check out our video below to get a better idea of all the different kinds of things you can make your LED man do.

Be sure to make it, and tell us how you liked it, in the comments below.

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Sculpting Challenge

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Sculpting Challenge