My Shadow Box & Tripod

ArtByte Summary
Price: Free
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Category:   Tools
Media:   For All Media
Skill Level:   Everyone
Has Video(s):   No
A step-by-step guide to building a versatile shadow-box. The idea behind this box is to control the light on your still life setup. The box is lightweight so it can be easily raised and lowered for a variety of perspectives.


Shawnee Fleenor
Tue Aug 24, 02021 8:29 AM

"Fantastic! Clear and easy to follow, so helpful."
Mark Johnson
Mon Dec 30, 02019 12:22 PM

"Very helpful. Thanks for putting this out there for free. I was hoping you'd show a few examples of setups with lighting in the box. Perhaps a future update?"
Tara Keating
Fri Jun 8, 02018 11:26 PM

"I am looking to build this and I found this hand crank adjustable tripod for under $100 at Grainger. I am trying to figure out if it would work. It doesn't go as high as the expensive one, but 67" seems more than high enough. Looks like it has a 33lb weight limit and I am wondering how much the still life box weighs?
Bego Lopez
Thu Dec 28, 02017 9:23 AM

"Great! Thank you"
Igor Belyakov
Sun Dec 4, 02016 2:29 PM

"Thank you, well done!"
Mary Hughes
Sun Dec 4, 02016 9:43 AM

"Very informative and easy to follow! Thanks for sharing!"
Tamara Lee
Fri Mar 18, 02016 11:26 AM

"Very 'to the point' with clear explanations and photos"
Katherine Hambley
Tue Jul 21, 02015 10:00 PM

"very clever, I'm going to build one, I found this bosch tripod with similar features for considerably less expensive."
Hilary Minor
Mon May 11, 02015 11:51 AM

"What an excellent set of instructions. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am a newcomer to daily painting and really need to set up a shadowbox so that I can control lighting and create attractive backgrounds. I am also enjoying reading your book :-) I have done three small paintings so far and hope to let you see them soon!"
Judy Downs
Mon Jan 26, 02015 9:44 AM

"Thank you! With your step by step, I can do it myself!"
Dorena Youlton
Sun Nov 16, 02014 4:35 PM

"As soon as I have even a smidgen of space, I am making this!"
A Main
Wed Mar 12, 02014 10:14 PM

"I've been using a large Halloween Cosco chip box for my shadow box, and have been looking to upgrade, so I'm glad to see how you approached yours."
Donna Buttaccio
Sat Dec 7, 02013 3:29 AM

"God Bless your mastermind Husband for his articulate, well explained and labeled directions for the light box. Definitely the next best thing to selling the kit. Thank you to both of you!"
Jayme del Rosario
Fri Sep 27, 02013 3:44 PM

"Such an amazing set-up. Thank you so much for the detailed and wonderful tutorial."
Celeste Bergin
Tue Jan 15, 02013 2:27 PM

"It's clear that this set-up is one of the reasons your paintings are so light-infused. Thanks for sharing this with us."
Maren Morris
Fri Dec 14, 02012 12:26 PM

"Thanks for the useful step by step explanation. Great photos (especially the 6 year old) and great writing style. Really appreciate all the time you took to put this together. Would have been nice to see objects in the shadow box at the end, after all your work : ) Thanks again for a great ArtByte!"
Jamie Gaviola
Wed Oct 24, 02012 8:54 AM

"Thank you! I will ask my husband to make me one soon.
Jana Bouc
Sat Sep 22, 02012 11:24 PM

"I modified it slightly because I use an adjustable "over the bed table" to place it on instead of a tripod so I didn't need the extra support board at the bottom. I found it very easy to assemble, thanks to the help of the guy at Home Depot that cut all the pipes and boards for me. I was very nervous since I usually totally mess up projects like this but it worked great and I love it! So much better than the foamcore box I'd made and was using before.

A couple of tips:
1) I discovered while at the store that it's impossible to get the pipes all the way into the corner pieces. I asked the strong HD guy to do it and he couldn't. That makes the dimensions a bit bigger, so I just rounded up the size of the boards.

2) Before pushing the pipe in, make sure you have the corner piece and the pipes going the right direction. I ended up with one facing the wrong way and it was hard to pull it back out again (but I did it)."
Dee Lessard
Mon Jun 4, 02012 9:47 PM

"Thanks for inspiring other artists and helping to make things easier! I'm one of your admirers!
Also enjoyed hearing how you got started. I can relate to much of your story!"
Kathy Johnson
Wed May 16, 02012 8:42 PM

"Thanks for the step by step instructions and photos. My son put one together for me and it has made it so much easier to set up a still life and get the lighting right. It make it so easy to adjust the height too for a different perspective.

Much appreciated info."
Barbara Benik
Sun Mar 11, 02012 11:55 AM

"As always, you have clear, concise directions and excellent photos. Thanks for sharing this information!"
Kathryn Glover
Fri Mar 9, 02012 6:55 PM

"I love the details pictures and descriptions. My PVC's are too long without an adjustable tripod and it's a real pain. Time to start over."
Pam Breen
Sat Mar 3, 02012 4:35 PM

"Thanks Carol for your ongoing inspiration! This information is so awesome. It's explained so clearly and the pictures make it even more useful. Looking forward to more adding more to my ArtByte library."
Gloria J Zucaro
Fri Mar 2, 02012 1:28 PM

"Wish I could start over! I had a friend's husband make the set-up, but with much larger pieces and it is sooooo heavy! But I did buy the table that James Coulter told us about through you(Thank You), so at least it is easier to raise up and down."
Kathleen Williford
Fri Mar 2, 02012 9:09 AM

"Thank you so very much for your generous spirit. You're such an inspiration. You and David have touched a lot of lives with this wonderful website and your willingness to share your tips and knowledge with the world.

I'm fairly handy and built a duplicate of your shadow box a while ago after seeing it on your blog. It is wonderful. I've been using a laptop podium as an adjustable table to support it because I couldn't afford the nice pricey tripod. It's probably much less adjustable but it does go up and down and tilts, so with a little fiddling around, works pretty well. Then a couple days ago, I was so excited to score a hefty tripod at a thrift store for $12. :) What luck... never expected that! Now I just need to get a platform attached to it and I'm good to go! Thanks!

Steinunn Einarsdottir
Fri Mar 2, 02012 5:47 AM

"A great set up Carol."
Kristen Dukat
Thu Mar 1, 02012 3:14 PM

"I'm just going to forward this directly to my fiance and tell him it's what I want for my birthday."
Marilyn Woodcock
Thu Mar 1, 02012 9:23 AM

"You are awesome. Thanks for sharing. I cannot get the nice tripod right now; so I ordered the table from that you told us about. Yeah, I will have my countertop back. Thanks!!
Lauren Pretorius
Wed Feb 29, 02012 7:12 PM

"This is great! Looks like I have a weekend project! :)"
Rose Herczeg
Wed Feb 29, 02012 3:43 PM

"Thank you so much for all your hard work. It really isn't that complicated when you see it in steps like this! :)"
Jacki Newell
Wed Feb 29, 02012 2:50 PM

"Thank you, Carole for taking the time to write down all these steps and photograph then. So helpful!!"
Dan Therrell
Wed Feb 29, 02012 1:36 PM

"Nice job on your mini-studio. I can say from past experience that a simple setup like this will improve the quality of any type of product photography at least 500%!

Since I don't have room to keep one set up, I'm going to use your plan to build a mini-studio for tabletop use, aiming for it to be easy to set-up and take-down. I'll store it in a closet when not in use. Maybe drop the PVC parts in a nylon bag. I'll send you photos when I finish putting it all together!

Being a guy, I love your fantastic German tripod. This baby is going on my wish list...and I'll use it for photography at the beach and other places where it tends to be very windy, and the footing is always kind of iffy. It looks like it is heavier than most tripods. I don't mind the extra weight if it keeps my camera from getting blown away!

Please share more of your photo tips and tricks when you have time. I just joined up, and love your site.
Kathy Cousart
Wed Feb 29, 02012 1:20 PM

"Great set up and thanks for sharing exactly how to make one. Only thing missing is David to do it for me:) Thanks!!"