Remember those old days Disney videos where you were on a tour with them to the animation studio and you were watching the animators who were drawing different cartoon characters like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse and they had a stack of papers on a lightened up apparatus which was helping them to see what was previously drawn?
Those were lightboxes and, in those days, animations were done like that but now the technology is advanced, and we do the animation on computers. But there are still some designers who prefer working with lightboxes for drawings and sketches for presentation purposes as well. Remembering the old videos, we will be looking at the best lightbox for tracing and sketching but first, we will look deep into what exactly a lightbox is!
A lightbox is an important item for any illustrator or artist. If you want to sketch, you can do t better with a lightbox as it is a simple yet clever tool that gives you a clear and bright surface to place the paper on and draw anything you want. You can focus on details and you will see that your work is more accurate and elegant.
Lightboxes are also called light boards and if we compare the light boards with light tables, we will see that they are versatile and portable. A lightbox can be great for any kind of artist, for instance, a cartoon creator can trace the sketch easily without spending too much time. Investing in a lightbox that is the best can affect your creative workflow as it allows easy and smooth tracing for different sizes and can be used by architects, designers, artists, and illustrators.
While compiling the list of best lightboxes, I have also noted down some key points that are the same in every one of them. I would like to share those points with you as well so that you can consult with them before taking any decision.
There are three major sources of power for lightboxes:
A USB powered lightbox is the best as they have more flexibility because you can switch between a computer, power bank, or a USB adapter for powering it up. AC Adapter using a lightbox can produce light consistently and you won’t notice any flickering. It is a good choice if you are working on it for more than 6 hours a day. And the battery-powered lightboxes are good for those who do not use them too often. They are rechargeable and can be lasted for a good amount of time. You can use them anywhere after charging them.
Most lightboxes are from 9×9 inches to 18×24 inches that gives you 432 inches of surface area. You can choose the lightbox for tracing depending on your work type as you should make sure that you choose the one that has enough room for your work. You can look for any current drawing for determining the size you should choose for your lightbox.
In terms of brightness, many lightboxes have up to three settings. They can be adjusted according to the thickness of the paper to have a better view of the paper. So, you need to keep in mind what kind of paper you use and if you use a mix of every kind of paper then look for the better option that comes with different ranges.
The weight of the lightbox is according to the size. But the largest lightboxes are not weighed more than 8 pounds. So, this is not much if you want to take the lightbox with you everywhere.
A lightbox can cost from $50 to $500, depending on the quality of the lightbox. The size and weight of the lightbox determine that lightbox along with brightness options and other features. You can choose one according to your requirements.
Dimensions: 13.2 x 9.2 inches | Working Area: 12.2 x 9.2 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.2 lb.
In the world of best lightboxes, Tiktecklab offers the best portable lightbox. It is slim and has a larges working area that is perfect for tracing on large papers as well. It has a very smooth and no glare lightening area which offers a good backlight for art tracing, designing, t-shirts art creating, transferring, and photo viewing. Unlike simple lightboxes, it has three brightness levels that you can adjust as per your requirements. It has a touch button to turn it on and off and controlling the brightness.
This lightbox is an innovation that comes with a USB cable; one of the best ways to power it up. This lightbox is perfect for 2D animations, stenciling, 5D diamond painting, calligraphy sketching, scrapbooking, and many more. This has a great light pad with a black mesh pattern on the lighting area. This although is not so good and recommended for viewing the negative photographs.
Dimensions: 17.9 x 10.9 inches | Working Area: 16.9 x 10.9 inches | Thickness: 6 mm | Item weight: 1.5 lb.
If you spend a lot of time on a lightbox for sketching or any other work, this product is perfect for you. AGPtek comes up with great items for you and this lightbox has some of the most amazing features. It is perfect for large size papers. It has a smooth screen and can be a great option because of its durable power options. It comes with a USB adapter and a USB cable. Powering up with a USB cable makes it more convenient as you can attach the cable with your computer or a power bank as well other than the adapter. With the adapter, you can connect it directly to the switchboard on your wall.
For its thin and lightweight, you can take it anywhere you want in your backpack. It also has three adjustable brightness levels that can be changed according to the thickness of the paper you are working on. It has a touch button that can be used to adjust the brightness and turn it on or off. Its super bright light gives you the ability to cover every detail in your drawing. This lightbox for tracing is perfect for stenciling, sketching, quilting, scrapbooking, calligraphy, and drawing.
Dimensions: 13.18 x 9.17 inches | Working Area: 12.18 x 9.17 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.04 lb.
This lightbox is slim and perfect for tracing on the paper in detail as it can illuminate the image clearly. This has made the art of tracing much easier as it has a USB power source which makes it flexible. You can attach it with your power bank or your laptop for powering it up. It great for multiple tasks like tracing, 2D animation, scrapbooking, sketching, quilting, and drawing.
It has three levels of adjustable brightness feature which makes it distinct among other lightboxes. You can adjust the light as per your need. You can easily trace the drawing on your paper with the best adjustment options.
Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.6 inches | Working Area: 20.4 x 12.5 inches | Thickness: 8 mm | Item weight: 4.4 lb.
This lightbox comes with some wonderful features as it is ideal for working in design or penmanship areas. It offers the most comfortable and soft light for animators, enthusiasts, and designers who have high-quality goals. It has an amazing technology of dimmable button for getting the ideal light level and that button can be turned on for adjusting lights or turning off the lightbox.
This is super thin and so much convenient. It is a masterpiece that is used widely across the designing field where it can be used for 2D animation, calligraphy, scrapbooking, drawing, quilting, sketching, and enhanced visualization. You can connect it with a power plug directly in the switchboard for giving consistent and stable light. It ensures flicker-free and bright light throughout your work session.
Dimensions: 15.7 x 10.6 inches | Working Area: 12.5 x 8.9 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 2 lb.
Huion is one of the most well-known brands in the lightbox for tracing world. It offers some of the most amazing technology. This specific piece has a built-in lithium battery in it that allows you to take it anywhere you want. Just charge your battery and take it to the coffee shop next door. Its battery can last for about 3 to 4 hours. It also has a USB cable with it to power up from your power bank, laptop, or adapter. This is ultra-thin and lightweight which makes it easier to carry.
It has a touch sensor for turning it on or off. You can also use it for adjusting the brightness level gradually. It has smart memory of remembering the last time used brightness that can be a good edge if you are using paper of the same thickness.
Huion is advanced in technology by offering eye protection. It has a diffuser film attached with hidden LED lights. This offers a friendly color temperature, and it does not affect your eyesight. With long-hour work, you will still be feeling fresh.
Dimensions: 13.2 x 9.25 inches | Working Area: 11.8 x 8.8 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.85 lb.
Hiraliy is known for offering flicker-free LED light with eyesight protection for lightbox users. It has three levels of brightness that can be adjusted as per your needs. The screen panel is a mesh not white with dos in the screen. This mesh is built for eyesight protection and does not affect the light. It also saves you from getting fatigued and reduces any shoulder or back pain.
There are 6 levels of adjusting the tilt of the lightbox and this protects the pad and gives you to set it at the right angle. For vinyl weeding or diamond painting, you can hold the lightbox with comfort. It offers a USB cable for powering it up by connecting it with your computer, power bank, or directly with the switchboard using an adapter.
Dimensions: 15.06 x 12.38 inches | Working Area: 14.8 x 11.8 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 2.48 lb.
Crayola has introduced a tracing pad with eye-soft technology. It automatically adjusts according to the light conditions. It has a smooth surface that makes it easy to use and you can also use it anywhere as it comes with a USB cable to attach it with your power bank, computer, or switchboard in your wall. It fits with the glow-in-dark toys for kids.
This is specially made for kids who are learning drawing and have better skills. You can gift it to them for using it for enhancing their skills. It is perfectly fit for teaching new skills in calligraphy, drawing, or sketching and inspiring some creative ideas. You can place 20 tracing sheets on the tracing pad and then on a blank sheet with a graphite pencil you can trace the image. Then use any colored pencils to color and embellish the drawing.
Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.6 inches | Working Area: 9 x 12 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.37 lb.
LitEnergy is also a super exciting brand in the world of lightboxes. It offers some great models of lightboxes. This lightbox for tracing items is super slim and lightweight. It has a vast working area, and you can keep the brightness as per your needs. You just need to press the touch button multiple times until you get your desired light level. This is known as a gradual dimming effect.
This amazing piece of technology is energy efficient that gives a perfectly smooth surface. This lightbox for tracing comes with a USB cable for connecting it with a USB adapter, power bank, or any computer. It is perfect for 2D animation, tattoo transferring, streaming, quilting, calligraphy, and many more.
Dimensions: 14.1 x 9 inches | Working Area: 13 x 9 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.45 lb.
Tiktecklab has one more amazing device of lightbox that is slim, portable, and easy to use and carry. The lights are even, flicker-free, and super bright. This lightbox comes with a USB cable that can be easily attached to any computer, power bank, or a switchboard with a USB adapter for powering it up.
It has an adjustable brightness feature just like many other good lightboxes. You can set it according to your preference and it is super bright and flickers free that gives you the ability to draw in more detail. It has a sensor switch that is used for on/off and controls the brightness. It is ideal for scrapbooking, sketching, calligraphy, and quilting.
Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.6 inches | Working Area: 9 x 12 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.39 lb.
LitEnergy’s other amazing lightbox has a large screen that allows tracing on big size papers. It has adjustable brightness that is set by pressing a touch button for few seconds until desired light comes up. This is an advanced technology lightbox that is amazing for use by professionals as well as those who are learning drawing and want to increase their skills level. It is used for calligraphy, tracing, sketching, drawing, many other purposes.
Dimensions: 15.5 x 11.8 inches | Working Area: 14.2 x 10.2 inches | Thickness: 5 mm | Item weight: 1.76 lb.
This lightbox by HSK has improved structure with no light emittance from the sides. This throws light from two sides and makes the area more illuminated. It offers USB power that can be connected with a computer or power bank, just ensure that the power bank is charged as it can affect the brightness of the lightbox.
Dimensions: 13.89 x 9.64 inches | Working Area: 10 x 6.25 inches | Thickness: 10 mm | Item weight: 1.35 lb.
This Huion product is Chromebook supported as well compatible with Mac or Windows. You can use its amazing tilt control system which gives you better angle and cursor positioning. This offers great features to tracing. You can do calligraphy, drawing, tattoo transferring, sketching, quilting, and many more. It is not stand-alone as you need to connect it to your computer or a mobile device. There are keys attached for shortcuts and this drawing tablet can be operated with a stylus.
Dimensions: 42 x 29 inches | Working Area: 4 x 34 inches | Thickness: 9 mm | Item weight: 16 lb.
Lightmaster by US Art Supplier is an ultra-thin and lightweight tracing pad and has a dimmable touch button as well. This button is used for turning the lightbox on or off and for adjusting the brightness level according to the thickness of the paper that you are using to draw on. This is a portable device that you can take anywhere. It has a super bright flicker-free LED light that can last for longer times and you do not need to keep it maintained. This device comes with one year of unconditional replacement warranty.
Dimensions: 18.25 x 14 inches | Working Area: 12 x 10 inches | Thickness: 9 mm | Item weight: 0.48 lb.
Artograph LightTracer does not come cheap but it is the best option. If you are willing to spend more money on a lightbox, you will never regret spending them on this. This LightTracer is lightweight and durable with a built-in pencil tray for keeping the tools close and protected. It has a tilted surface which offers the ability to be at a comfortable angle. The Artograph LighTracer comes with a bright LED light that can run for hours and it gives a maximum of 5000 lux. It comes with a 12V adapter and one-year replacement warranty.
In the article, I have tried to gather the best light boxes for tracing that are most wanted in the market nowadays. They all give high-level features and transparency with adjustable brightness levels and eyesight comfort. I have chosen the best lightboxes for you when it comes to features and pricing. Some are not much cheap, but you can never regret buying them for their advanced functions and comfort in using them.
The best lightbox for tracing is the one that is reliable and performs great along with offering a wide range of brightness levels, good control over the system, and a generous work area with a better power option. However, you can hardly find everything in one model as every model is suitable for different needs and requirements so I have listed down all these for you so that you can go through them all and choose what is the best for you.
The best lightboxes are those that are useful for pencil tasks as well as non-pen ones like viewing slides, scrapbooking, photo negatives, quilting, tattoo designs, and many more. But whatever you are going to choose for you, I’m confident that now you will be able to find the one that is perfect from the above list of all lightboxes.
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Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.
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