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Light Boxes Outlined

As we’ve outlined in our previous blogs, light boxes have an expansive range of uses. Whether used in the treatment of SAD or for artists to draw or trace one aspect of a picture to a blank sheet of paper, light boxes are essential. In essence light boxes are transparent drawing surfaces.

How to use a light box

Using a light box couldn’t be easier. It’s basically like using tracing paper – and at some point in our lives we’ve all used tracing paper – more than likely when we were small children. All that you need to do is to place a piece of paper on top of the light box. Once the light has been turned on the image underneath will be clearly visible. Artists will be able to clearly trace the whole, or portions of the picture.

Light Boxes and Physics

To understand just how a light box works we must first have an understanding of light and colour. This is fundamental to understanding the physics of light boxes.  We must first consider the way that we all view colour. The human eye will see a shape or colour and interpret the visual picture into messages that our brain can understand.

If we look at a leaf it looks green. We recognise the colour green as, well green. The colour of the leaf is green because once the light hits the leaf all the colours are absorbed into the leaf, with the exception of the colour green. This green colour bounces off the leaf. When the light reaches your eyes you see the colour that your brain recognises as green.

Think of it this way, when you enter a room devoid of any light whatsoever, a room that’s pitch black, and hold a vivid red object in front of your face the colour of the object will still be dark. This is because the darkness of the room is absorbing any light. There is no light to reflect to your eyes.

When using a light box for illustration there you must make sure that the paper used is thin enough to allow light to escape. If black ink is present on the paper, light will be absorbed as it tries to move through the paper. Should the paper have coloured ink light will similarly be absorbed, yet red ink will be slightly visible through the layers of paper. In simple terms, a light box lets you see what is visible on one sheet of paper through another one.

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