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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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    75 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    1 reply
    Anne StraussJayefuu

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.

    Gunk on Floordingle

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 6

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

    dingleGunk on Floor

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 6

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


    6 years ago on Introduction

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


    7 years ago on Step 7

    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.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

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


    13 years ago

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

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Step 7

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


    8 years ago on Step 5

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