I love Stranger Things and with the release of Season 3, I thought it would be fun to take a stab at making a paper art lightbox. I really love the detail you can get with multiple layers and this technique can be applied to tons of different designs!
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Step 1: Convert to Vector Lasers for the Laser
To start the project off we need to work with the artwork. I found this awesome piece by Amien Juugo on Behance: https://www.behance.net/gallery/43706275/Stranger-...
I used Adobe Illustrator to convert this into a 7 layer grayscale graphic. Then layer by layer I would make sure all the sections were connected within the artwork so once they were cut out everything would still be attached.
The lightest layer is at the bottom of the design and closest to the light source. Each layer removes a little bit more from the design to leave only the darkest sections at the top.
Step 2: Laser Cut Designs
I used my 50W laser to cut out the design. This could also be done with an Exacto knife...the is just faster (and a lot of fun!).
I used blue tape to keep the paper in the same spot on the bed of the laser. This also helped me line up each new sheet so the design would roughly be in the same spot for each layer of artwork.
Step 3: Engrave "Stranger Things" on Acrylic
Instead of glass, I'm using clear acrylic. I engraved the Stranger Things logo onto the Acrylic so that it would (hopefully) be lit by the lights at the end. The acrylic was cut to size on the table saw.
Step 4: Build a Matte Board Frame
The inside of the frame I wanted to be able to remove. I built this out of simple matte board from Hobby Lobby. Everything was attached with superglue.
Step 5: Mill the Lumber for the Box
The box portion of the build is built from some leftover Red Oak I had laying around the shop. It has tons of bug holes in it and I thought the look went pretty well with the crazy Upside Down look in Stranger Things.
I first cut my stock down on the miter saw and then used the combination of my jointer, planer, and table saw to get the pieces to their final thickness and rough size.
Step 6: Cut the Sides to Final Size
Using my miter sled on the table saw I cut the sides of the box to their final size.
Step 7: Assemble the Box
The box was put together with simple butt joints and wood glue. I used blue tape and a few brad nails to keep everything in place. I know this isn't the strongest or nicest joint but I was wanted to make something easy and quick for this part of the build.
The box was built so that the inside matte board would fit snuggly inside.
Step 8: Cut the Pieces for the Frame
The top frame was made from the same Red Oak as before. I used a 90-degree miter jig to cut all the miters on the table saw.
Step 9: Assemble the Frame
The frame was attached with wood glue and blue tape to keep it together until the glue dried.
Step 10: Attach the Frame
The top frame is attached to the box with wood glue and brad nails.
Step 11: Attach the Clear Acrylic
The clear acrylic is attached to the inside of the top frame with CA glue. This could just as easily been hot glue or even tape.
Step 12: Solder Two Types of LED's Together.
I wanted to have red light shining into the edge of the clear acrylic and then use a multi-colored LED light from the back of the lightbox. I thought I would be able to use a normal LED connector but didn't' realize that the red lights were only 2 wires while the multi-colored lights are 4. I soldered the wires together so they could all be run off of 1 power source.
Step 13: Heat Shrink the Wires
After the wires were soldered together I used heat shrink tubing to seal the connection.
Step 14: Create a Ledge for Artwork
The artwork sits on a small ledge around the matte frame. This is constructed from the same matte board and glued into space.
Step 15: Attach the LED Lights
The LED lights were attached with the adhesive on the back of the lights. I created a stripped pattern on the back of the matte board to maximize the amount of light that would be coming through the artwork.
Step 16: Tape Artwork Layers Together
To keep all the artwork lined up I used small pieces of tape around the edges to line up all the paper layers before placing it inside the frame.
Step 17: Attach Matte Strips to Hold the Paper Layers
Small matte board strips were attached on top of the paper layers to hold them into space. These were superglued to the matte board box.
Step 18: Attached Red LED Lights
The red LED light strips were attached with the self-adhesive backing to the edge of the matte board. In the end, I wound up removing these LED's because they didn't really give the effect on the clear acrylic I was shooting for. These lights also wound up reducing the overall brightness of the backlights.
Step 19: That's It!
This was a fun project to experiment with paper designs! I'm looking forward to having this up in the shop and creating more artwork in the future. Let me know if there is some, in particular, you would like to see me create!
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