Whether you're a portrait artist or someone who draws botanical illustrations, there will likely come a time when you need to trace one of your designs. And while using tracing paper can be effective for some people, using a light box can help you save on paper costs and reduce eye strain. These devices are indispensable for traditional animators and just as practical for artists who want to cleanly trace a sketch in ink.
Before you purchase a light box or light tablet, however, there are a few things to take into consideration. First, you should check the size of the paper you normally work with. Whether it's the smaller 9″ x 12″ or a large A2 design, the size of the light box will greatly affect the price. Second, you should ask yourself whether you prefer the power to be delivered through USB, AC adapter, or batteries. While USB offers the most flexibility in terms of charging stations, an AC adapter is known to provide more consistent light for those who use a light box for six hours or more per day. Additionally, some light boxes come with light adjustment settings that will allow you to control the level of brightness displayed.
If all of this sounds like a lot to keep in mind when shopping, don't worry. We've compiled a list of the five best light boxes and light pads that will help you trace and draw with precision.
Searching for a light box or light tablet to help you with your drawing? Check out our best picks!
Voilamart LED Light Pad—A2 (16.5″ x 23.4″)
For those that need a broad work area, the LED Light Pad by Voilamart is an ideal choice. At an A2 size (16.5″ x 23.4″), this device allows for a variety of large designs. Plus it allows for three levels of brightness, which can even help you trace through watercolor paper.
Artograph Light Pad LX LED Light Box—9″ x 12″
If you do a lot of tracing but don't need as much workspace, the Artograph Light Pad is an excellent choice. Although available in a variety of sizes, the 9″ x 12″ version provides up to 50,000 hours of perfect illumination at a standard paper size.
HUION Ultra-Thin USB Powered Adjustable Light Pad—A4 (10.63″ x 14.17″)
The Ultra-Thin Light Pad by HUION is one of the most popular light boxes on Amazon. The A4 size is sleek, lightweight, comes with eyesight-protected technology, and is conveniently powered by USB.
Daylight Wafer LED Light Box—11″ x 17″
Artists on-the-go should consider looking at the Wafer LED Light Box by Daylight. Even at 11″ x 17″, this tool is ultra-thin, ultra-light, and boasts beautiful, even illumination. Its modern design is completely frameless, so your various projects won't get hung up on the edges.
Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Box—10″ x 12″
Gagne is one of the leading brands in light box technology. The Portra-Trace LED Light Box features eco-friendly, LED lights that last up to 50,000 hours. Plus, its top is made of 1/4″ thick opal Plexiglas that supplies even illumination with minimal glare and no hot spots.