Thursday, June 2

HOBBY: Milk jug light box.

Guest post by 

I am always looking for new and better ways to do everything that revolves
around 40K. But the one thing that I have found is, no matter now much
hard work I put into this hobby, it can only be seen in all its glory by the small group
of people that I meet in public or the infinite number of people who
might find blurry, unfocused, badly lighted pictures on the Internet. Time to fix that!

As such, I want to show my work on camera to the best of my ability.
This is not always an easy task and there are tons of how to videos on
The net and the same goes with written versions like the one your
reading now.

So why bring it up? Well I found a new way of doing what I had been doing
for some time, taking photos of my models, but better and much cheaper.
This idea I had not found on the net and was so interesting and easy
I had to share it.

I did get this idea from a great friend of mind that went to photography
school in Chicago and is a practicing photographer there. To you I
say "Thanks for the inspiration FOO, I'm so glad to get advice from you
and not have to pay those insane school bills!"

Shameless plug to her site:

I was talking about how to get better photos of my figs. I told her
I had tried several different hand made light boxes and such.
Then she asked me if I had ever used a milk jug...?
Say what? Sure she says, I do it all the time on small items that need
close up photos and even lighting.

So, here it is...The milk jug light box.
First, take a empty milk jug and cut the top off.
Then cut a strip of card board that will fit across the floor and up the
back in an "L" shape. Select a background material to wrap it in.
I went to the local fabric store and found some Grey satin type material
for cheep. I cant really tell you what it is because I really don't know.

Then I used some tape to fix the material to the card board and bent it
into its "L" shape.
Next placing it in the carton, making the floor and back
While leaving the sides and top to collect light.

As you can see I use some basic clip on lamps that can be found at any
Home Depot, Lowes or the like. The cheaper the better for me, these were
only a few bucks and I use them for all kinds of things.

Also, I should note that I use standard 60 watt bulbs in them.
You might need to use something better if you don’t have a camera with
custom settings. Its one of those things that you just have to experiment
to find out what works for you.
I position the lamps on each side just a bit to the front.

Now all I had to do was put a fig in it, adjust the lights some
and get my settings right. (More on that later.)

The entire thing cost next to nothing and produced better results than
any light box I have built in the past.
And yes I have built several, even bought one from the camera shop.

At this point I showed what I had done to some people,
they ask me about problems with larger models and squads.
This prompted me to take a second look and make some changes that would
improve the original.

Thus begins-Part 2
Not content with my new home made "milk jug" light box I started looking
for a better container. I found it at work on its way to the trash.
It was more like a rectangle, made of the same white/clear plastic
like a milk jug and a much better size.
You might find something at a restaurant or a whole sale store like Sam's
or Costco.

Again I cut the top off, and trimmed a piece of card board.
Note the fold is already in place and I used the white side of the
card board.

Next I took some metal strap and used the hot glue gun to stick them to
the back of the card board.

Continuing with the hot glue gun I attached the fabric to the back wall
section of the board. Then bent it into a "L" shape. The straps keep
the shape allowing me to work with it as it will be inside the container.


After that I tacked the floor section down on the back side making sure
that it was tight.
Note how I pulled it away from the back wall just a bit so that
it slopes to the floor and wont show a shadow in the photos.

Now I just slid it into the light box and used a clip to hold it in place.
Much like before but better!!!

As you can see this one will hold larger models and its easy to set them
up and position them.
Then I used the 2 lights, again with just plain 60 watt bulbs and
positioned them slightly to the front.

A side note on camera settings and lights.
You will notice that the bulbs I use cast a yellow light.
I have compensated for this in several ways. One is to use the "Tungsten"
setting on the white balance menu. Also the photos of the finished models
you see are shot at 1600 ISO with the shutter speed at 1/1600.
And most important, always always always use a tri-pod. Even the low end,
base model version is worth its weight in gold when it comes to
photographing things this small.


Here we have a pic I got of my GK Dread.

Not to bad I must say.
I did go back and add one more light over the top.

And one more shot with the extra light and a 5 man squad.

Lastly I made one final adjustment by cutting back some of the top section,
allowing me to get a better angle on the top of my subject.

Top angle shot.
This was easy, quick and I can keep it set up in storage as is so I
can shoot pics of models on the fly.
Hope this might help your future projects look even better.
Game on,

 What are you tips and tricks with taking photos of your minis?  Do you use a light box? did you buy it, or make it?  We want to know. 



  1. I just have to say... That was an awesome tutorial. For some reason this has never been mentioned before. And for some other reason I have seen these as being really hard to make. I particularly like this one because it is easy, cheap and I can hide it away really easily when Im not using it. (Which makes my wife happy!) good article swags.


  2. I've read a LOT of articles on making a lightbox and I've had all sorts of intentions to try a few. However, I think this one will actually be tried. It's so cheap and easy it would be silly not to give it a shot! Great idea this one.

  3. Nice tutorial! I'll definitely give this a try. I'm tired of lousy pictures of well painted miniatures. Thanks.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I deleted my earlier post cause I said something about using 'white' light bulbs... then when reading over the instructions for the light box again... I saw you mentioned that.. sorry :P

    I'm definitely going to have to try this though, as while I like my photo cube I bought, it's just too big for single mini photography and the light gets too lost.


  6. Saves for after I've moved house. Awesome tutorial with basic materials. Thanks man

  7. Glad to help, hope to see better photos flying around the net!

    Enjoy, Swags

    And yes I am still trying to log in...