Teaching myself to take better photos meant I needed a light box to hide the general clutter of my house. If you explore Instructables (or just Google it), you’ll find a huge variety of homemade light boxes, but none of them were exactly what I wanted, so I decided to put together my own. This light box is collapsible (easy, cat-free storage), pretty large (20x20x20 inches), and doesn’t require me to have a spare cardboard box. All boxes become tribute to cats upon arrival. Here’s the design. I hope you like it.


  • Large ruler/straight-edge
  • pencil
  • cutting surface
  • blade to cut foam board


  •  3 sheets of foam board (20×30 inches)
  • 1 large sheet of white paper (20 inches wide and the taller the better)
  • White (or clear) packing tape. I used clear tape, but white would cover up the corners better and prevent excess light)
  • 2 sheets of scrapbooking vellum. These should be translucent white to allow diffuse light to pass through.
  • glue

Step 1: Cut Foam Board


Cut 2 of the foam boards down to 20 x 20 inches. The 20-inch pieces will be the sides. Save the remaining 10-inch pieces. These will become the back of the light box.

Cut the final foam board down to 21 x 20 inches. This will be the top of the light box. Put it aside for now.

Step 2: Cut Holes for Vellum

On one of the sides, find the center of the board.


Cut a square around it a half inch smaller than your vellum sheet. Cut the second side.


Step 3: Glue Vellum Inserts

Center and glue a sheet of vellum over the hole. Repeat with the second side and use a couple of books to hold down the edges while everything dries.


Step 4: Tape Back of Lightbox

Place the two 10-inch sheets of foam board together to foam a square. Use the white or clear tape to tape one side.


Fold the sides together along the tape and stand up with the “fold” up. Run tape along the second side so the cut edges are covered. When the parts fold back, they will create a 20×20 inch back for your light box.


Step 5: Tape Sides to Back

Use the same taping procedure from step 4 to tape the sides to the back. The three sides should form a ‘U’ that stands up on it’s own.


Step 6: Setup

To set up the light box, unfold the box into a ‘U’, using a book or something to help keep the back straight. Slope the white paper inside of the box to create a seamless back and place the 21-inch “lid” on the top. You can shine lights through the vellum on either side or against the top of the light box to illuminate the subject.


Breakdown is also simple. Remove the lid of the box and put aside. Unfold the sides and fold the back along the center tape line. Store with the white paper inside of the V to keep it clean.