5 Best Tracing Light Boxes For Artists, Animators and Photographers

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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

 

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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

 

Huion LS4 Tracing Light Box

Check prices on Amazon
>>> 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

 


Check prices on Amazon
>>> 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. Neeho Flip Book Kit With Light Pad – Best For Kids and Beginner Animators

Flip Book Kit, Neeho Flipbook Kit with Light Pad for Drawing and Tracing with 300 Sheets Premium Pre-drilled Flipbook Paper, LED Lightbox for Making Animation Flipbooks with Binding Screws Check prices on Amazon

The Flip Book Kit with light pad from Neeho is a little different to the other light pads on this list as it comes with everything you need to start doing some flip book animation and get those creative juices flowing. Coming with its own simple animation tutorial of a break dancing man that you can copy to get the hang of things, this kit is ideal for kids and beginners who want to get to grips with animation quickly and in a really fun way.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Model:A5
Thickness:5 mm
Dimensions:9.45 x 5.9in (240 x 150mm)
Active Area:8 x 5.9in (200 x 150mm)
Weight:Approx 500g
Brightness:3 levels stepless
Accessories:Also comes with:
- 300 sheets of flipbook paper
- Binding screws (5 different sizes)
- Dancing man animation tutorial for you to trace
- Pencil
- Eraser
Power:USB - 1.5m micro USB cable

 

All-In-One Kit For Flip Book Animation

 
As mentioned above Neeho’s Flip Book Kit and light pad is the all-in-one solution for animation beginners and enthusiasts. The light pad itself is A5 size so is ideal for use with the supplied flip book paper, but also as a stand alone light pad for any tracing, crafting or vinyl weeding.

It is very thin (around 5mm thick) and lightweight making it very easy to take in a backpack or by hand to school or college.

There is no battery in the light box so needs an external power source via USB (laptop or power bank). Thankfully the USB cable that is supplied also comes with a wall plug adapter so that you can plug it in to the mains if you wish.

 

300 Sheets of Paper and Binding Screws

The kit comes with 300 sheets of flip book paper with pre-punched holes, so you can work on your animation easily using separate sheets and then fixed them together later using the supplied binding screws – which come in 3 separate lengths (10mm, 15mm and 20mm) depending on how long you want your animation to be. It’s great because it avoids the usual problems you find with flip books where you can’t quite open them properly as they are already fixed at the spine (even worse for left-handers like me!). The Neeho flip books solve that problem. You’ll also get a handy little screwdriver / allen key to help you adjust the screws.

The dancing man animation tutorial is a nice addition too and a great way to get kids started.

 

Easily Adjustable Stepless Brightness

The light pad from Neeho is good quality and also has stepless brightness which is easily adjusted by pressing and holding the power button until you reach your desired level – there are 3 levels, min, med, and max. The highest setting on the brightness is more than enough to trace through a good number of sheets of paper.

 

Free Pencil and Eraser

A nice little addition with the Neeho kit is that they provide you a free pencil and eraser which means that you really don’t need anything else to get started with your animation – no excuses now! 😀

 

Pros

 

  • All in one kit for flip book animation
  • Smooth adjustable brightness
  • 300 sheets of pre-punched flipbook paper with metal binding screws
  • Free pencil and eraser
  • The thin A5 light pad is versatile to use in other crafts
  • Simple animation tutorial for first-timers
  • Great value

 

Cons

 

  • Bear in mind there is no battery in the light pad, so it will always need to be plugged in somewhere.

 

Summary

The Flip Book and light pad animation kit from Neeho really is one of the best choices for kids, teens and those taking their first steps in drawn animation. With everything you need to get started, including a fun little tutorial, at an affordable price you can’t really go wrong with this one.

The light pad itself is really thin and very lightweight making it easy to take with you on the go to school or college, and the brightness levels are easily adjustable making it versatile for many other crafts.

The paper and screws to make your own flip books are such a cool idea, I only wish this kit was available when I was a kid! 🙂

>>> Check the best prices for the Neeho Flip Book Light Pad Kit on Amazon <<<

 


4. Artograph LightPad 930 LX- 12″ x 9″ – Brightest and Best Heavy Duty Light Pad

Artograph LightPad 930 LX-12 Check prices on Amazon

Artograph have been producing projectors and light boxes since 1947 so what they are doing, and in the LightPad 930 LX (and the larger 950 LX model) Artograph have produced a high-end and very durable light pad ideal for all artists and crafts. A large range of brightness and a solid aluminium frame make this light pad the ultimate choice for serious artists, photographers, diamond painters or vinyl weeding. The unique metal retro design makes it really solid and very stylish – a real head-turner.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

Models:920, 930, 940, 950
Thickness:0.5 inches (12.7mm)
Dimensions:14.25 x 11.25in (360 x 285mm)
Light Area:12 x 9in (305 x 230mm)
Weight:Approx 1kg
Brightness:1000-5,000 lux
(6,500K colour temperature - Cool White)
Adjustable Brightness?:Yes
Power:Mains AC adapter included (no USB)

 

Fantastic Brightness and Cool White Temperature

The 930 LX has the highest range of brightness of all the light pads on this list going up to a whopping 5,000 lux which is more than double than most of the other light pads, and means it can easily shine through 300 pound cold-pressed watercolour paper and fabric, and can also be used as a backlighting tool in product photography. The range goes from 1,000 to 5,000 lux, and adjustable through the touch button on the side which remember your settings if you switch it off.

The colour temperature range sits at 6,500K (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.

 

Solid Aluminium Frame For Durability

Now, most other light pads are made of thin acrylic which means they can scratch easily or be damaged on their sides particularly if transported regularly. The Artograph LightPad 930 LX on the other hand has a solid aluminium frame which not only gives a cool retro look, but also makes it ideal for students or artists who need to take it to school or their studio and are worried about damaging the thinner pads that are on the market. 2d animators can also safely use a metal pegbar without worrying about scratching the surface by accident.

 

Doubles As A Drafting / Drawing Table

The durable metal sides are also great for using 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.

There are also pad pucks available that you can use to tilt the light pad if needed without slippage, and without requiring the need for an additional light pad stand.

There are also support bars available for the Artograph Futura Light Table which are specifically designed for use with the LX series of light pads.

Although the 930 LX is very solid and sturdy, this comes at a price in the form of additional weight, so it’s not quite as portable as many of the other light pads on this list.

 

Pros

 

  • Great build quality
  • Solid and durable aluminium frame
  • Exceptional levels of brightness with UV-free LED light lasting up to 50,000 hours
  • Nice colour temperature
  • Comes with custom protective sleeve

 

Cons

 

  • More expensive than others on this list so not suitable for all budgets
  • Extra 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 930 LX is definitely for you, with its great build quality and excellent durability. The large range of brightness combined with the solid frame make it an excellent choice for professionals or those looking for a long lasting all-in-one solution.

>>> Check the best prices for the Artograph LightPad 930 LX on Amazon here <<<

 


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

 


Check prices on Amazon

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. 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. 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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