The search for a better light box
(This blog was originally posted in 2015.)
Since I ink my drawings on watercolor paper I use a lightbox to transfer my drawings (See my finished art here) This has a couple advantages: 1: My sketches can be as messy as I like or be done on several layers and 2: Too much erasing on watercolor paper can strip the sizing off.
My first lightboxes were a thick slanted design with a fluorescent bulb.The shape was awkward when turned to work on longer vertical drawings. Luckily I only broke and had to replace one lightbulb. A few years later when LED lightpads from Artograph came out I got a 9×12 size. I’ve been using that ever since. The main improvement was that was much thinner, flat and lightbulbs couldn’t be broken. The weight and thickness was still awkward to use with larger paper. I was eyeing the new revolving lightpad but the cost was pretty high and it wouldn’t be portable.
My studio has skylights high over my desk, which is great for painting but leaves me unable to use the lightbox during the day. When I read that Huion light pads were supposedly brighter I decided to get two sizes so I could take one to conventions and coffee shops. I was able to get both for a similar price as buying the larger Artograph.
Whereas the Artograph lightpad is heavy duty metal and the case can take a beating, the Huion has LEDs encased in plexiglass. As far as I can tell the A3 model is brighter than both the Artograph and the USB model, making a bit easier for me to use it during daylight. I would definitely recommend these to artist and illustrators!
Artograph 11.5×14.5 lightpad – [Artograph 12 inch by 9 inch Light Pad Light Box]
size: 9×12 working area
weight: About 5 pounds
brightness: I couldn’t find any record of this.
cord: Comes with a standard wall adapter. The socket on the lightpad had popped out and needed to be taped on after some use. After a few years my cord also came apart at the base and had to be replaced with something similar. Artograph doesn’t sell adapters separately.
pros: According to their youtube videos you can drop it off a roof or run a car over it.
cons: Very heavy, not as bright, and problems with the cord. It never fully fit in any of my book bags.
Huion A3 23.5 inch – [Huion 23.5 Inch Tatoo Tracing Light Table LED Light Box – A3]
weight: 3.8 pounds
brightness: 4050 Lux
cord: Comes with a standard wall adapter. Huion sells replacement adapters should you break one.
pros: Lighter weight, Much larger working area and brighter adjustable lights.
cons: There’s just one button which you hold down to turn on and off and adjust brightness. Not as indestructible as the metal lightbox.
Huion L4S 17.7 inch – [Huion 17.7 Inch (Diagonal) LED Artcraft Tracing Light Pad Light Box (L4S)]
size: 8×12 inch work surface
weight: 1.3 lbs
brightness: Adjustable brightness (below 1500 Lux)
cord: Comes with a USB cord to plug into a computer or battery instead an outlet. This resembles a wacom cord. I was able to connect it to my ipad cord and another I already had to plug into the wall.
pros: Very portable! Easily fits in my messenger bag with my sketchbooks. USB powered. (There is also a similar model with a built in battery)
cons: Not as bright as the A3 model. Needs a 3rd party adapter to plug into the wall.
[Addendum: This pad is thinner than the larger model. I’d like to add that if you lean on the area near the button or place reference books on top it can shut off with too much pressure]