5 Best Tracing Light Boxes For Artists, Animators and Photographers

 

In days gone by, animators, artists and photographers that needed a light box for tracing, either had to spend a fair sum of money for a hefty piece of equipment or end up making one themselves, but that’s often easier said than done right?…

DIY lightbox
image credit Megan McClain

Thankfully, these days you can pick up a great quality LED light pad for less than $50 and, by combining it with a simple rotating stand, and a pegbar (if you want to do traditional 2d animation) you can have a professional set up at a fraction of the cost.

 

Quick Summary

 

How To Choose A Lightbox

 

Choosing the best lightbox for you will depend on the kind of work you need it for and your budget.

Most good lightboxes on the market these days use LED lamps which are very efficient, long-lasting, give off almost no heat and are easier on the eyes than the old fashioned flourescent tube lights. They also allow for variations in colour and brightness.

When making your choice, you’ll need to consider the following:

Size – lightboxes are available in A4, A3, A2, and A1 sizes. Most popular is A4 and A3 but your needs may require something larger.

Brightness – measured in “lux” you’ll need to think about the thickness of paper or material that you want to see through and make sure your light pad has sufficient brightness to cope with it – for example, watercolour paper has a thickness of 300 gsm (equivalent 140lb) and the Huion LED light pad below with a lux of 4480 is bright enough to show through making it the best for watercolour artists.

All the lightboxes on this page have adjustable levels of brightness.

Weight – are you looking for a permanent desk-style solution or a portable light pad that you can easily carry from one place to another? Most light boxes do not weigh much and some are ultra-thin which makes transportation a doddle.

Cutting – in some crafts like vinyl weeding or architectural design you might wish to cut directly on the surface of the light box. Therefore you will need to look for a light box that has a scratch-resistant tempered glass surface like the Artograph LightPad Pro below.

Price – prices can range from less than $20 to several hundred dollars, so there is something to suit every budget.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 5 recommendations…

 

5 Best LED Light Boxes and Pads For Tracing


 


 

1. Huion L4S 17.7 inch LED Light Box A4 – Best All-Rounder


 
Huion LS4 Tracing Light Box

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>>> Read my full review of the Huion L4S here <<<

 
Huion combines the latest technology with over a decade of hardware knowledge to produce sleek, portable, easy to use affordable drawing tablets and light boxes. The Huion L4S light pad is perfect for 2d animators, artists, designers and art students as well as for home use. It comes in handy for hobbies such as photography (ideal for checking photographic negatives), quilting and scrap-booking or for just keeping the kids happy on a rainy day.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:L4S, A4, LB4
Thickness:5.1mm
Dimensions:360 x 270mm (14.17 x 10.63in)
Active Area:310mm x 210mm (12.2 x 8.27in)
Weight:0.6kg
Brightness:745cd/m2
Adjustable Brightness?:Yes
Power:USB cable supplied. Wall adapter NOT included
Accessories:Comes with free Huion tracing paper clip

 

Eyesight-protected Design

 
Huion’s advanced eyesight-protected technology takes the worry out of using this light box. Even after hours of use, there won’t be any damage to your eyes from staring into its ultra safe LED light source. You can use it for all sorts of purposes, including tracing work like 2d animation that requires careful concentration, without worrying about eye strain.

 

Smart Light Control with Memory

 
Unlike many light boxes, the light on the Huion L4S can be adjusted quickly and easily to suit your needs. Simply hold the on/off button on the left side of the box until you reach your desired light intensity and then let go. The light will remain at that setting the next time you turn the box on so you don’t need to re-adjust each time.

huion-l4s-adjustable-brightness

 

USB Powered

 
The Huion L4S is easy to use anywhere you are as it can be powered from any computer, power bank or USB plug that plugs directly into a wall outlet using the USB cable included. However, please note that a wall adapter is NOT included in the package and will need to be purchased separately if required.

 

Very Inexpensive

 
Huion prides itself in providing top quality light boxes at affordable prices. At just under $50 RRP, the L4S will easily fit into most budgets. Even art students on a tight budget or parents who want a light pad for their children can afford this model without breaking the bank. I’ve rated this as the best light pad for beginners and hobbyists as it is often sold with a paper clip meaning you can start your project with this straight out of the box.

 

Ultra Thin

 
huion-l4s-thickness
At just 5.1 mm thick, this model is lightweight and easy to transport and it takes up little workspace, so it can fit into even the smallest of offices. For home use, it can fit easily on a desk or tabletop without taking up a lot of room.

 

Portable

 
The sleek design and small, 12″ x 8″ work surface make the L4S suitable for use anywhere. At a weight of just 0.60kg it is easy to carry on the go so you can take it with you to work, school or when you travel.

huion l4s paper clip

 

Pros

 

  • Adjustable light source with memory
  • USB compatible
  • Lightweight
  • Slim design
  • Affordable price for professional or home use

 

Cons

 

  • Power outlet tends to be overly sensitive. Some customers have complained about the socket becoming loose after just a few uses, preventing the light pad from being powered up. As of yet, Huion has offered no solution for this issue.

 

Summary

 
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy to use alternative to traditional, cumbersome light boxes, then this is the ideal solution for you. Its slim design and light weight makes it extremely portable and the adjustable control allows you to set the appropriate brightness level for you, which will remain set the next time you use it until you need to adjust it again.

It plugs easily into any USB outlet and provides a bright light source with eyesight protecting technology. The Huion L4S is the perfect choice for animators, students, hobbyists or kids at a price anyone can afford.

>>> Check the best prices for Huion L4S Light Pad here <<<

 


 

2. TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED Light Box – Best Value Light Pad


 


click here button
 
>>> Read my full review of the TikTeck A4 light box here <<<

 
From TikTeck comes the A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED Light Box, a slim, lightweight and easy to use alternative to bulky and cumbersome traditional light boxes. The A4 Ultra-Thin is perfect for stenciling, 2D animation, Calligraphy, Scrapbooking, Sketching, Drawing, Quilting, X-ray viewing and any other application that requires the use of a light box.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:A4-DC
Thickness:0.2in (5mm)
Dimensions:14.17 x 9.45 x 0.2 in
Active Area:12.20 in x 8.27in
Weight:0.527kg
Brightness:2,500 lux
Adjustable Brightness?:Yes- stepless
Power:USB to micro-USB cable supplied.

 

Eyesight-protected Technology

 
TikTeck’s advanced eyesight-protected technology enables you to use the A4 Ultra-thin for hours without developing sore eyes. No matter what you’re using it for, you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing that you don’t have to worry about eyestrain.

 

Stepless Adjustable Light Source

 
The A4 Ultra-thin features a Stepless adjustable light source that can be operated easily with just one switch. Simply turn the unit on with the on/off button on the left of the unit and then hold the button down to adjust the brightness. Once you’ve reached the intensity you want, just let go and the light will remain at that setting.

 

USB Powered

 
With the USB power cable included, you can easily power up the A4 Ultra-thin from any computer, power bank or USB plug that connects directly into a wall outlet. No more worrying about the power supply running out, just plug it in and work for as long as you need.

 

Very Inexpensive

 
TikTeck is known for providing the highest quality products at extremely affordable prices. At under $30 the A4 Ultra-thin is easy on everyone’s budget. It’s the perfect choice for children, for hobbies or for cash-strapped art students.

 

Ultra Thin

 
It’s just 5 mm thick, yet the A4 Ultra-thin offers a generous 12.20 in x 9 in work space, which makes it the ideal solution for artists and hobbyists who need room to create within a limited space. It can fit easily on a desk or tabletop without taking up a lot of extra room.

 

Portable

 
At just 1.65 pounds, the A4 Ultra-thin is easy to pick up and take with you wherever you need to go. Whether commuting to work or school or traveling on vacation, you can easily pack it into a protective case and carry it along.

 

Pros

 

  • Stepless Adjustable light source
  • Eyesight protection technology
  • USB compatible
  • Lightweight
  • Slim design
  • 24 hour customer service plus 90 day warranty
  • Affordable price for professional or home use

 

Cons

 

  • The USB plug tends to be rather flimsy. Customers have reported that it easily comes apart when unplugging after just a couple of uses.
  • Also seems to have durability issues, probably related to its extremely slim and lightweight build.

 

Summary

 
If you need a light box but don’t want to be bothered with a large, clumsy, traditional model, this is the perfect choice for you. The slim design of the TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin Portable LED light box makes it easily portable so that you can take it anywhere.

The adjustable light control allows you to set it according to your individual needs and with the USB plug you can power it from any standard USB source.

The TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin gives you all the functionality you need at an extremely affordable price, making it particularly appealing for anyone who needs a professional light box but doesn’t want to pay professional prices.

>>> Check the best prices for the TikTeck A4 Ultra-thin Light Pad here <<<

 


 

3. Artograph LightPad Pro 1700 – Highest Brightness and Tempered Glass


 
artograph-lightpad-pro-1700
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In the LightPad Pro 1700 (and the smaller 1200 model) Artograph have produced a high-end light pad ideal for all artists and crafts. A huge range of brightness and adjustable colour temperature along with a scratch-resistant tempered glass make this light pad the ultimate choice for serious photographers, artists, diamond painters or anyone needing to cut directly on the surface of the pad like in vinyl weeding. The unique square design makes it extremely portable and very stylish – a real head-turner.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:1200, 1700
Thickness:0.5 inches (12.7mm)
Dimensions:20.5 x 20.5in (520 x 520mm)
Active Area:17.5 x 17.5in (445 x 445mm)
Weight:Approx 5kg
Brightness:500-5,500 lux
MAX setting of 11,000
Adjustable Brightness?:Yes (and colour temperature control)
Power:Mains AC adapter included (no USB)

 

Amazing Brightness and Adjustable Colours

 

It has the highest range of brightness of all the light pads on this list going up to a whopping 11,000 lux which means it can shine through 300 pound cold-pressed watercolour paper and fabric, and is excellent as a backlighting tool in product photography. The range goes from 500 to 5,500 lux with the maximum setting at 11,000 (press the lightning button), and adjustable through the touch buttons on the sides which remember your settings if you switch it off.

You can also adjust the colour temperature from warm to cool white which is great for checking photographic negatives and testing colour ranges on your artwork.

 

UV-Free Light Safe For Eyes and Archival Photos and Documents

 
While producing unparalleled brightness you can also be safe in the knowledge that the led light is UV-free, making it easy on your eyes and importantly, non-destructive for important archival documents or photos which can easily be damaged by natural light or other cheaper light boxes.

 

Tempered Glass For Cutting On

 
Now, most other light pads are made of acrylic which means they can scratch and are not to be used as a cutting board. The Artograph LightPad Pro on the other hand has a tempered glass screen specifically designed for such a use, making it ideal for airbrush artists who need to cut masks, vinyl weeding or other craft involving cutting. 2d animators can also safely use a metal pegbar without worrying about scratching the surface by accident.

 

Doubles As A Drafting / Drawing Table

 
The sides have been designed for use with a T-Square so architects and designers can use this light box almost like a mini drafting or drawing table, particularly if they’re short on space or need a portable version to take with them on the move. The 17.5in x 17.5in square design is sleek while providing oodles of room to work.

The free pucks that come with the pad means you can tilt the light pad if needed without slippage, and without requiring the need for an additional light pad stand.

Although it is very solid and sturdy, this comes at a price in the form of additional weight. The 1700 model weighs in around 5kg, so not as portable as many of the other light pads on this list.

 

Pros

 

  • Great build quality
  • Scratch-resistant tempered glass for cutting on
  • Exceptional levels of brightness with UV-free LED light lasting up to 50,000 hours
  • Nice colour variation and temperature
  • Excellent customer service
  • Made in the USA

 

Cons

 

  • Expensive so not suitable for all budgets
  • Weight means it’s not as portable as other light pads
  • Only uses an AC power adapter, no USB connection

 

Summary

 
If you’re looking for a high-end light pad with superior brightness then the Artograph LightPad Pro 1700 is definitely for you, with its great build quality, square design and curved corners. The large range of brightness and control of colour temperature combined with the scratch-resistant tempered glass make it an excellent choice for professionals or those looking for a solid all-in-one solution.

>>> Check the best prices for the Artograph LightPad Pro 1700 here <<<

 


 

4. US ART SUPPLY Lightmaster USB Powered 18.75” Diagonal Professional Artist Size (A4) 9”x12” LED Lightbox Board


 
US Art Supply Lightmaster A4 light pad
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US ART SUPPLY takes the light box to the next level with its Lightmaster 9”x12” A4 Lightbox Board. The board is slim, portable, and easy to use and features a generous work space with super bright, energy efficient flicker-free LED lights that are guaranteed to provide up to 50,000 hours of use. It even comes with a measuring overlay grid and a circle template/protractor. The Lightmaster is a great option for artists, designers and hobbyists who don’t want to be bogged down by cumbersome traditional lightboxes.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:A4, A3, A2, A1
Thickness:0.375 inches (9.5mm)
Dimensions:15 x 11.75in (380 x 300mm)
Active Area:12 x 9in (305 x 229mm)
Weight:0.5-1kg
Brightness:5W
Adjustable Brightness?:Yes
Power:Micro USB cable with attachable wall adapter included.
Accessories:Comes with FREE Scalable Overlay Grid & Circle Template/protractor
Warranty:1 Year Unconditional Full Replacement Guarantee

 

LED Lamps

 
US ART SUPPLY uses super bright LED lights that are energy efficient, flicker free and spaced to provide an evenly distributed light surface. Unlike the bulbs in traditional light boxes these are designed to be maintenance-free and will last for up to 50,000 hours of use.

 

Screen Brightness

 
The super bright 5 volt, 5 watt LED panel features dimmable touch button technology that allows you to adjust brightness quickly and easily. Just hold the on/off button down until you reach your desired intensity and the Lightmaster will remain at that setting until you switch it off.

 

USB Power Option

 
The Lightmaster can be powered from any computer, power bank or wall outlet using the USB power adapter included.

 

Affordable

 
At around $50 the Lightmaster is slightly more expensive than some of the other slim light box models, but with its LED light source, generous work space and slim design it’s well worth the investment and still comes in well under the cost of larger traditional light boxes.

 

Ultra Thin

 
With a slim 3/4” profile, this light box is designed to fit into even the smallest of work spaces. It takes up a minimal amount of space on your desk or table top and is easily portable so that you can take it with you wherever you go.

 

1 Year Warranty

 
Each Lightmaster comes with an unconditional 1 year full replacement warranty. If you experience any problems with your light box, just contact US ART SUPPLY and they’ll replace your unit no questions asked.

 

Pros

 

  • Energy efficient, super bright LED light source
  • USB compatible
  • Dimmable touch button control
  • Slim design
  • Generous artist size 9”x12” work space
  • 1 Year Unconditional Full Replacement Warranty

 

Cons

 

  • The USB power input sticks straight out from the box with no support, making it vulnerable to damage.
  • Also, despite the manufacturer’s claims it has been reported that this light box tends to stop working well ahead of the 50,000 hours promised for the LED lights.

 

Summary

 
If you need an alternative to large, cumbersome traditional light boxes, the US ART SUPPLY Lightmaster Lightbox Board is a great option. With a slim design it is easily portable and yet it offers an artist’s size 9” x 12” work space, so you have plenty of room to work.

The super bright, flicker-free LED lights provide an evenly distributed light source that is easily adjusted with a touch of the control button. It plugs easily into any USB outlet so it can be used anywhere you go. The price puts it at the mid level for slim-line light boxes but it is still easily affordable for artists, students or hobbyists alike, and the free grid and protractor overlays are a nice little addition to the package, particularly for animators planning out scenes.

>>> Check the best prices for the US Art Supply LightMaster A4 Light Box Pad here <<<

 


 

5. Artograph LightTracer Light Box 10 in. by 12 in. – Best Box-Style Light Box


 

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Artograph provides a lightweight, easy to use light box to make all of your projects easier. Whether you’re animating a character, sorting through negatives, or producing detailed drawings it is ideal. The slanted surface and bright LED lights make it ideal for any use and convenient to take with you wherever you go.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:LightTracer, LightTracer 2
Thickness:N / A – slanted work surface
Dimensions:10in x 12in (254 x 304.8 mm)
Active Area:15.6 in (397mm)
Weight:approx. 1kg
Brightness:5,000 to 14,000 lux
Adjustable Brightness?:No
Power:12 volt wall adapter supplied. No USB functionality.

 

Slanted Work Surface

 
The comfortable, slanted work surface of the Artograph LightTracer makes it easy to use without causing neck or back strain. Unlike traditional light boxes, this model is designed to allow you to use it for hours on end, wherever you may be, with no excess stress or strain. It’s easy to use, whether you’re doing 2d drawn animation, producing professional sketches or checking photographic negatives.

 

LED Illumination

 
The Artograph LightTracer uses LED lights for its light source, which provide a bright, clean background for any use without causing excess eyestrain. Not only is the light source of the highest quality, you shouldn’t have to replace any light bulbs as the LED lights are long lasting (thousands of hours worth). You’ll get the light you need for as long as you need it, with no worries.

 

Storage Tray

 
Along with its slanted work surface, this model also includes a built-in storage tray that allows you to keep your pens, pencils and other supplies close at hand without them rolling off the desk.

 

Power Adapter

 
The LightTracer comes with a 12-volt power adapter that allows it to plug into any standard outlet. That way you don’t have to worry about losing power in the middle of a project. Just plug it in and forget about it while you focus on your work.

 

Compact Design

 
With a 12 in. x 10 in. workspace, this model can easily fit on any desktop or table, which makes it ideal for even the most compact workplace. You can use it wherever you need it, unlike its bulkier, more awkward traditional counterparts.

 

Portable

 
The LightTracer weighs just 2.7 pounds, which makes it easy to transport anywhere you need it to be. You can carry it with you to school, work or anywhere else with relative ease.

 

Pros

 

  • Comfortable, slanted work surface
  • Built-in storage tray
  • Lightweight
  • Compact design
  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Affordable price

 

Cons

 

  • Some issues with the intensity of the light and the location of light source, which is toward the top of the unit, so that the light is uneven. Makes it less than ideal for viewing negatives but perfectly adequate for tracing.
  • Lack of adjustment on the light means it can be too bright when used for any length of time.

 

Summary

 
The Artograph LightTracer light box is a compact, easy to use alternative to traditional light boxes. Its slanted surface makes it comfortable to use and the LED light source is durable with no bulbs that need to be regularly replaced.

Its small size and affordable price make it a great choice for everyone from artists and illustrators to quilters, scrap-bookers and other home users.

>>> Check the best prices for the Artograph LightTracer Light Box here <<<

 

 

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Comments

  1. Reply

    We purchased a Huion based on your review. It was challenging because straight out of the box it would not turn on. After about 30 minutes of messing with it we got it to work. The lightest touch on the sensor changed the lighting. However, it worked well and I used it to complete the illustrations for my book. I put it away for about a month and then got it back out to use again and would not turn on. We contacted Amazon and they gave us the company number. We have been trying to reach them for two months solid with no reply. I am writing this not to criticize your review but in the hopes that you or someone who reads this will be able to reach the company so I can get my light table replaced or repaired.

    1. Reply

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about your experience with the Huion light pad.
      Unfortunately I don’t represent the company so can only advise you to follow up with the number Amazon gave you, and if that fails to chase it with Amazon themselves. Let me know how you get on

      All the best

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