How to Use a Light Pad (Light Box) for Lettering and Crafts

Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite tools for lettering and many other crafts and projects - the light pad ("light box" or "light tablet.")


The post contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you.




Years ago, I discovered light boxes (now also called light pads or light tablets) when I began learning calligraphy and lettering.

What is a Light Pad?

 A light pad is basically a thin box or tablet with a translucent surface that is lit from inside.  You simply place a sheet of paper on it that has guidelines or an image you want to trace, and then place another sheet of paper on top of that. When you turn on the light, it allows you to see the image on the paper beneath.


How Do I Use My Light Pad?

For Lettering


  • It's perfect for practicing brush lettering, (or any lettering!), because you can just place a sheet of the original letterforms you want to practice on the tablet and trace over them on the top paper.  This develops your muscle memory and helps your lettering improve really quickly.


How to Use a Light Pad for Lettering
The image from the paper underneath shines through so you can trace it. I used a Tombow Dual Brush Pen  (large brush marker) on HP Premium 32 Paper.




  • Also, because you are never actually writing on the original itself, you can use your lettering guidelines over and over.  Guidelines help keep your lettering consistent, especially while you are learning or when you're addressing envelopes, and with a light pad, your original guidelines remain pristine and unused. Much better than printing out worksheets over and over! 


How to Use a Light Pad (Light Box) for Lettering
The practice sheet in the photo above is free at tombowusa.com. Search "lettering practice worksheets" at the site. They're free to download. I used a Tombow Fudenosuke pen (small brush marker.)


  • If you've ever had problems with trying to remove pencil marks, after you've watercolored a project, you will love a light pad. You can sketch the layout in pencil, place your paper over the pencil sketch, go over your lettering with watercolor,  and not have to worry about the pencil lines showing through the watercolor.



  • And, creating a lettering layout is much easier with a light pad, too. It saves so much time.


For Dry Embossing, Scrapbooking, Tracing

There are many other art and craft applications for a light pad.   I used to use mine a lot for dry embossing,  but I haven't done that in a while.  (I need to get out my stencils and do some dry embossing!)  I've used it for scrapbooking, too.

For Pattern Tracing and Quilting 

Although I haven't used mine for sewing (pattern tracing) or quilting, those are some other ways to use a lightbox.

For Kids

 Kids love a light pad for tracing over lettering or drawings, too.


As you can see, a light pad is really fun to have!




I love my Lightpad 930, because the light is bright LED light that shines through a lot of different papers. It's relatively thin, so it's not difficult to store. The lit surface is only 9 x 12 inches, so I would actually have preferred one of the larger ones in the line, but it works well when I'm working with standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch papers. They do have larger ones available. Artograph has been making light pads/light boxes for a long time, so I know the quality is reliable.




                                        LightPad 930






I have seen this newer  Huion light pad  (below) used by lettering artists on Youtube, and it is very highly rated.  The work surface is 16.9 x 12.2, bigger than my LightPad 930. It looks thinner too, and is less expensive. So, this might be one I would consider if I were buying one now.


Huion A3 Thin Light Box LED





You might be able to find light pads at your local craft store and use a coupon to get one cheaper than you can online.


DIY Light Pads

There are even several ways to make your own simple lightbox, and I did this early on.

The easiest way to DIY  a light pad is to simply place a lamp under a clear table.  The light shines up through the paper, and allows you to trace over an example.  I have also used a window, (but this doesn't work for all projects of course!)

Another way to make a DIY light pad is to have a translucent piece of plexiglass cut, lean it on some books, and place a lightsource under the plexiglass.

 These DIY alternatives are very cost effective, especially if you don't plan to use it a lot.



My light pads are some of my favorite tools, and I highly recommend them. Have you used one before?


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Linking to:

Thursday Favorite Things
Creatively Crafty at Try It, Like It
Create, Bake, Grow, and Gather at Shabby Art Boutique
Blogger's Pit Stop
Home Matters at Modern on Monticello
Wonderful Wednesday at OMHG
Artsy Fartsy Link Party
Little Things Thursday at Good Random Fun
Snickerdoodle Create, Bake, Make, at Eye Love Knots
Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy
Handmade Monday at Sum of Their Stories
Little Cottage Link Party at Love My Little Cottage
Happy Now at Jenerally Informed
Inspire Me Monday at Mostly Blogging
Tuesday Turn About at My Wee Abode


12 comments

  1. I would like to get a lightbox. When I made my wedding invitations last year, I drew it out on a regular printer paper, and then held the paper up to the window, and copied it over onto cardstock. A lightbox would have been much more helpful.

    Alexandra
    EyeLoveKnots.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so impressed that you made your own wedding invitations! That window trick works, but yes, a lightbox would have been helpful!

      Delete
  2. I really need one of these! I was just saying that I want to learn calligraphy - or at least improve my handwriting so I'm not embarrassed when I attempt to write inspiring things on my chalkboard! Thanks for the tips!
    Shelley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are definitely helpful and fun - Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  3. I had forgotten how helpful lightboxes can be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's fun to re-discover different crafting tools, for sure.

      Delete
  4. Oh I love this! I woudl definitely use this and will look into one. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amy! I highly recommend these!

      Delete
  5. While I like all of your reasons, the one for kids resonates most because my daughter loves learning cursive and would love to show my son how to trace her writing.
    Also, my mom made her own light box - crazy, right??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, that would be sweet. I love that your daughter is being taught cursive. I'm always sad to hear that some schools aren't teaching it anymore. Also, I love that your mom made her own light box too!!

      Delete
  6. I used to use a lightbox while in Design school and they have certainly gotten a lot smaller in size than they used to be. Very tempted to buy one now. Thanks for sharing this week. #HomeMattersParty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they are so much thinner now, too. Thanks for hosting the party!

      Delete

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