Light Table - Opinions needed

Well, I just finished building myself a light table with a tilting surface. I’m pretty pumped about it. The dimensions for mine are as follows, but I can make any size desired:
Length: OD - 40" ID - 37"
Width: OD - 27" ID - 24"
Drawing surface: 24" x 37"
Depth: 6"
Height: just under 36"
I will also soon be adding a peg bar & possibly an animation disc as well.

Here are a few pics showing front & side angles as well as a closeup of the tilting mechanism & light fixtures. I really want some opinions on this, because I looked around & honestly most of the tables that are similar in size & maneuverability to mine are between $1500 - $3500. I’m sure some cheaper ones exist, but thats what I found when I googled light tables. Hell, even little 10" x 12" light boxes can be upwards of $150.
So please, tell me what you think of this table, or if you want more details on it. I am thinking about making more & trying to sell them on ebay or something, I can drastically undercut other tables & still make a nice profit for myself. So I’d like some opinions out there on fair market value & such.
I’m anxious to hear what people think, I’m pretty proud of this thing.
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s276/kdog7777/Light%20table%20pics/LightTable1.jpg
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s276/kdog7777/Light%20table%20pics/LightTable2.jpg
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s276/kdog7777/Light%20table%20pics/LightTable3.jpg
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s276/kdog7777/Light%20table%20pics/LightTable4.jpg
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s276/kdog7777/Light%20table%20pics/LightTable5.jpg

Nice work. I agree that commercially available light tables are a total ripoff. I have so far built 3 for my studio, 2 of which have holes for an animation disk.

My only comment on yours is that I would have enclosed the lights within the tilting part of the box, to prevent light leakage out the side of the box, which would possibly be seen in your peripheral vision while you work, and thus be distracting.

When I did this it made the box a bit hot. So I also installed a computer fan in the back to keep things cool. Computer fans nowadays are cheap and quiet.

interesting idea… I haven’t been bothered so far by the escaping light, but I did notice it. I was thinking a quick fix might be a simple piece of black fabric tacked around the outside. It probably wouldn’t get too hot that way either.

I had a couple different ideas as far as having the lights tilt with the top or not, & I can go either way. I definitely consider this one a prototype, & I learned alot from building it. I can easily improve the design & make subtle changes as I make more.

very nice work! you’ve got something useful, affordable, and versatile as well.

It looks as if you can use it for a full size light table for large drawings, or attach a different cover to it to hold your disk. I made a couple of disks a few years ago that work alright for me. Lightfoot Ltd also has a few different ones that are affordable as well.

I think the fan and the side covers are the only addition. It looks adjustable.

My only opinion is “Wow! Cool!”. I’ve never used a light table so I wouldn’t know a faulty one if I saw it. Well, if there was no light I might notice it. Maybe.

Very nicely done, kdog. Does it have an “on-off” switch? I can’t tell from the picture.

Light tables are a great addition to any animators set up even in these days of computer aided animation. We have several in our studio that get plenty of use.

One aspect of using light tables in animation is that most animators like to switch the light off and on depending on what they are doing in their work flow. For some work I like having the backlight ‘on’ but other times it is too hard on my poor old eyes trying to draw with that light coming thru my paper plus seeing too much information (the previous sketches) is often distracting. Frankly even having an “on-off” switch isn’t the best solution because frequent cycling of the flouresent lights is hard on them and shortens their usable life. So I came up with a great solution years ago that I still use. I have a sheet of heavy matte finished bristol board (basically art cardboard) that is registration punched and I place it on my drawing disc under my paper to block the back light when I don’t want to see it. Then I remove this “shield” when I do want the back light “on”. That way I never have to turn it “on or off” more than once per work session.

My only design suggestion is that a dual circular flouresent fixture tends to produce better light distribution for back lighting. These type of fixtures are commonly made for bathroom ceilings. Strip fixtures are fine but they can produce undesiarable shadows.

I really like the adjustable tilt feature you added. I draw at 45-50 degrees as that angle allows free movement of the arm and shoulder and produces a looser more energetic line. I don’t like to have the point of the pencil straight up and down as that makes me work too rigid and tight. In fact I tilt my Wacom the same way for the same reason. -JK

Thanks alot for the kudos guys :slight_smile:

JK - yes it does have an on/off switch (of sorts) Right now I just plugged the 2 lights into a power strip & I just hit the switch on that as an on/off. I was actually thinking about putting a dimmer on them as well, it wouldn’t be much more work at all, & I think (not sure) that a dimmer would be alot less stress on the ballast than actually turning the lights on & off repeatedly.

Circular bulbs were a thought, I really didn’t use the straight ones for any specific reason. That’s just a part of the trial & error process, there are a few other minor adjustments I might make as well.

All in all Im very happy with it & I know I can refine the rough edges & crank these out if I can drum up some business…
Any suggestions on what I should shoot for on ebay? Also how about as is VS. with peg bar & disc?

Ah Wacom, now there’s something I know about.

I use an 18" Cintiq, and besides the iMac that powers it, it’s the most important piece of hardware I use.

What does everybody use for digital drawing?

kdog,
I think that if you wanted to have a good shot at selling on eBay then you should consider a disc with pegbar set-up. There are plenty of people who regularly sell just discs at $200 each or more. If you could provide a below $100 set-up with backlight you should find a good market. A commercial setup with a plexiglas disc and light box runs nearly $400…ouch. And with a actual 12-16 fld. disc they can go as high as $800…double ouch!! I recommend going with a standard 3 hole paper style peg bar not Acme standard. That way people can use regular paper and a notebook style paper punch. Acme punched paper is very expensive mostly due to the high cost of shipping heavy reams of paper long distances. The disc makes the difference in desirability over the plain drawing board surface. Rotating is a big plus.

Will,
We use both Cintiq and regular Wacom tablets as well as tablet PCs. The only thing better than a Cintiq is real paper and pencil. But they aren’t that far apart. I like paper and pencil best only because I can get more expression in my drawing by holding my pencil sideways and using the edge for rough sketching. I do that also with the Cintiq pen but it isn’t quite as good as a soft lead pencil on edge. -JK

i also prefer a pencil and a paper sheet. the trouble with film frames starts when one has to draw the next picture.

i for my part bought a relux light table on ebay for 44 euros, but it can’t beat the animation disk due to the biggest disadvantage: its high edge. the only solution seems to be to underlay a thick book or similar thing to have an even working surface for hand movements.
there are also some thin tables for picture slides, but i don’t know their usability.

kdog, a fine work :slight_smile:
cheers,
rob