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Thursday, January 20, 2022
Thursday, January 20, 2022

NOTE: You do not need an expensive camera to take nice pictures! Although the results will be better, you can also use an ordinary smartphone camera (which a pretty decent nowadays).

A photo box can help a lot to improve your model pictures.
The major advantages are:

  • a well illuminated model
  • diffused light to minimize shadows
  • and a uniform and smooth background

Here, I will show you how I build one.

What you will need

  • Large cardboard box
  • Hobby knife
  • Duck tape
  • Diffusion textile (bought on Amazon, 1,5m x 1,8m for 9€) but you could use white backing paper, too
  • Lights of course – I use two 15W LED Lights with 5500k (I found them on Amazon for about 30€) and a ceiling lamp (halogen lamp 5000k)
  • Cardboard sheet as background (or any other smooth and flat material that can be bent)

I found this box in a local hardware store. It’s 52,5cm x 35cm and therefore suitable for 72 scale models, 48 scale war birds and maybe even 35 scale vehicles. The bigger the box, the better! 

Cut out four sides of the box (these will be front, top, left and right later). It’s recomanded to leave out the bottom of the box since this is the most robust part. You can use some tape to strengthen the box frame.

Now cut the diffusion material to size and cover three openings with it — leave out the front side opening. You can use tape or glue to hold it in place. This material will diffuse the light and prevent the building of sharp shadows.

When done, your box could look like this.

Now the background comes into play. In order to have smooth background that seems to have no end, the background needs to bend from the back top to the bottom front. Fix the cardboard sheet on the back top edge and arrange it so you get a nicely curved shape, then fix it in the front. You can now experiment with whit, black or colored backgrounds.

You’re done!

This is how your final setup could look like. Place one light source in front of the left, top and right opening and take the photos from the front side.

As you can see, shadows are reduced to a minimum, while the light comes from all directions. The bent cardboard shows no visiblel edge and we get a smooth, plain and uniform background.

Some more tips

  • Don’t place the lights sources too close to the photo box — of course this depends on their brightness
  • To lighten up the lower sides of the models even more, you can install some reflectors inside the box. These could be from white paper, styrofoam or any other bright and flat material. Place them in an angle so they reflect the incoming light to the areas needed.
  • Use light background for dark models and vice versa. (Of course this is to taste and only a general recommendation that does not apply to every model!)
  • Try to get lights with a cool color temperature of about 5000k! This prevents your pictures from getting a yellowish touch like they would get in direct sun light or from ordinary light bulbs.
  • If you get troubles with lens flares, shield the camera from direct light as I did in the setup picture above. Just add some cardboard between the light source and the camera and the problems are gone.
Last updated byAnonymous on 15th June 2020
971 reads
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Scale modeller from southern Germany with an addiction to photography. I love building and weathering tanks, airplanes and others in various scales.


Scale1972 15th June 2020 at 7:33 pm

Can you please re write all my articles mine look like the gibberish of a 2 year old in comparison 😂

MK Scale Modelling 15th June 2020 at 9:04 pm

Haha common, that’s not true 😂… But ehm thanks I guess 😅

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