Best light box tracer

Arts & Crafts

Most light box tracers fit in a backpack, but they don’t come with cases. To protect the device, it’s a smart idea to invest in a padded portfolio for travel.

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Which light box tracer is best?

Tracing over a piece of paper can be tricky. More than anything, you end up flipping between pages, which can result in a messy, uneven trace. Light box tracers make the process seamless and more enjoyable.

Light box tracers use LED lights to enhance the contrast of lines on the base page to improve visibility, making tracing much easier. Many models even come with integrated paper clips or ruler borders to stabilize paper to improve line accuracy. There are also light box tracers with adjustable light settings, which are suitable for illuminating lines through thicker paper.

Our top pick, Craftymint’s 19-Inch LED Light Pad, is only 1/8-inch thick to provide a flat surface for an unobstructed tracing experience.

What to know before you buy a light box tracer

Thickness

Light box tracers are no longer bulky, cumbersome devices that are uncomfortable to use. These days, you can find models that are a mere quarter-inch in thickness or thinner. There are some light boxes that are thicker than 1/3 inch, but they can be uncomfortable on wrists, so many individuals avoid them.

Size

Choose a light box tracer based on the size of paper with which you normally work. Most kids and hobbyists use the standard A4 size, which is 11.7-by-8.3 inches. Once you get into the territory of larger ones, such as A1 sizes, expect to pay significantly more. Larger light box tracers are often used by seasoned artists and professionals, including those who use specialized paper sizes for technical drawing.

Brightness

To compare brightness between light box tracers, take a look at the lux, which ranges between 1,500 and 5,000. The higher the lux, the brighter the illumination, in which case it’s easier to see the lines on the base paper.

Many entry-level light box tracers only have one brightness setting, whereas advanced models have dimmable settings. It’s worth spending the extra money on this feature if you intend to trace onto heavyweight paper, such as watercolor or construction paper.  Because these are significantly thicker, you need greater illumination to penetrate them.

What to look for in a quality light box tracer

Ruler edges

Light box tracers with ruler edges are useful for scaling and leveling lines. Some light box tracers only feature a ruler on one side, while others have one on perpendicular sides. As far as units, it’s more common to see rulers with centimeters as opposed to inches.

Brightness memory

As an artist or professional, you know that some projects are completed in more than one sitting. Light box tracers with a brightness memory setting make it easier to get back to drawing, as you don’t need to waste time fiddling to find the original setting. This feature is more common in professional-grade tracers, as it’s far more specialized than what average users typically require.

Adjustable tilt

Not everyone enjoys drawing on a flat surface. Some light box tracers are designed to accommodate your tilt preferences, whether you’re looking for a slight incline or a totally vertical surface. You usually see this feature in more expensive light box tracers.

How much you can expect to spend on a light box tracer

Entry-level light box tracers cost $15-$25 and have basic settings for budding artists. Those in the $30-$60 range have adjustable light settings. If you’re a professional, it’s worth looking in the $100-$350 range, as these models have essential features for technical drawing.

Light box tracer FAQ

How are light box tracers powered?

A. Slimline and entry-level light box tracers have USB cords. Larger, professional-grade light box tracers usually have AC adapters.

Can you change the LED lights in the light box tracer when they burn out?

A. In most models, you can’t. However, don’t expect them to burn out anytime soon, even with constant use. On average, LED lights last up to 50,000 hours. If you feel the LED lights have gone out sooner than they should, contact the manufacturer regarding defect concerns.

What’s the best light box tracer to buy?

Top light box tracer

Craftymint’s 19-Inch LED Light Pad

Craftymint’s 19-Inch LED Light Pad

What you need to know: This is a large, professional-quality model with plenty of convenient features.

What you’ll love: It has three flicker-free light settings. It comes with a ruler and oversized paper clip. It features a 10-foot cable.

What you should consider: This unit is almost twice the price of other light box tracers, but it’s larger.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top light box tracer for money

Tikteck’s Ultra-Thin Portable LED Light Box Tracer, 13.2 x 9.2 Inches

Tikteck’s Ultra-Thin Portable LED Light Box Tracer, 13.2 x 9.2 Inches

What you need to know: Basic features make this a budget-friendly light box for budding artists.

What you’ll love: It has an ultra-thin design at 0.19 inches thickness. It creates even, flicker-free LED illumination.

What you should consider: Some users might not like the reflective mesh dot background.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Small Fish’s Ultra-Thin LED Light Box, 13.3 x 9.3 Inches

Small Fish’s Ultra-Thin LED Light Box, 13.3 x 9.3 Inches

What you need to know: This is an affordable option if you’re looking for a slim, portable LED light box tracer.

What you’ll love: It has an A4 paper size drawing surface and an adjustable brightness without any dark areas.

What you should consider: It automatically powers down, sometimes in the middle of sketching.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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