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The best lightboxes for tracing and drawing 2021

Included in this guide:

Best lightbox for tracing: Woman's hands tracing a picture using lightbox
(Image credit: Lumsburry)

The best lightbox for tracing and drawing is a must-have for a variety of creatives, including artists, illustrators, designers and architects. It's also useful for many hobbies, such as scrapbooking, calligaphy, tattoo design and quilting.

How does a lightbox work? It's simple. You place a printed diagram, sketch, illustration or photo on top of it, and the device shines a bright light through. This allows you to trace the image onto professional drawing paper. (For more details, jump to how does a lightbox work or how to choose a lightbox).

When deciding what model to buy, there are a number of factors to take into account. The first is the size of paper you want to trace onto, which generally ranges from from A4 to A2. In one sense, more drawing area is better, but also ask yourself if you have enough space on your desk to fit a large lightbox.

Also think about how thick your paper needs to be. The thicker it is, the greater the brightness you'll need; this is normally measured in Lux. Finally, there's power supply: do you want a model that runs on AC or USB, or both? If a lightbox only comes with a USB cable, you'll need to supply your own adapter if you want to plug it into the wall.

Read on for our pick of the best lightboxes for tracing.  We'll start with the best lightbox available to US readers, and then go on to reveal the best lightbox for UK readers.

Need to do some digital drawing as well? Then don't miss our guides to the best drawing tablets, as well as the best drawing tablets for kids.

The best lightbox for tracing in the US

Best lightbox for tracing: Huion A3 Lightbox

(Image credit: Huion)

01. Huion A3 LED Light Pad

The best lightbox for tracing overall

Specifications
Dimensions: 18.82 x 14.17 inches
Working area: 16.9 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 5.6lbs
Thickness: 0.31 inches
Brightness: 4,050 lux
Reasons to buy
+Premium build quality+4050 lux brightness+Generous working area
Reasons to avoid
-Power cable could be longer

When it comes to lightboxes, Huion is the leading brand right now. So it's no surprise that we've picked the Huion A3 LED Light Pad as the best lightbox for tracing overall. Why? Because it's slim, generously sized, and powerfully bright, reaching a maximum of 4,050 Lux, so it will work with even the thickest of paper. 

The LED illumination offers a cold, even light, and is also adjustable, from bright to dark. Handily, it also has a smart memory feature, which remembers the brightness of your last use. 

It provides a working area of 16.9 x 12.2 inches, which should be enough for most people's needs. And most importantly, it's built to high quality standards, promising a lifespan of 50,000 hours and use for up to 24 hours without overheating. Our only small criticism is that the AC power cable, at 44 inches, could be a little longer, so you may need an extension cable. 

Best lightbox: Huion L4S Light Pad

(Image credit: Huion)

02. Huion L4S Light Pad

The best lightbox for tracing at A4 size

Specifications
Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.7 inches
Working area: 12 x 8.2 inches
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Thickness: 0.2 inches
Brightness: 1,100 lux
Reasons to buy
+Compact and portable +Lightweight+High build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1100 lux

Looking for something smaller than A3? Then Huion’s L4S is our top pick for a lightbox at A4 size. Like the Huion A3 LED Light Pad, above, this is well built, offers  adjustable brightness, and comes with a smart memory feature. 

While you'll obviously get less working area than with an A3 lightbox, on the flipside it will take up less space on your desk and be more lightweight, at just 1.3 lbs, making it much portable and suitable for travel. You also get a bulldog clip to keep your artwork in place as you trace, and a 78-inch USB cable for charging. On the minus side, it only offers brightness up to 1,100 lux, but that should be sufficient for most people's needs.

Best lightbox for tracing: LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

03. LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

The best lightbox for creatives on a budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.6 inches
Working area: 12 x 9 inches
Weight: 1.5lbs
Thickness: 0.2in
Brightness: 4,000 lux
Reasons to buy
+Low price +Slim and light+Up to 4,000 Lux
Reasons to avoid
-Can get hot

Short on cash? Then check out the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box, which is the best lightbox you can buy today at a super-low price. An Amazon best-seller, it's very slim, at just 0.2 inches and lightweight, at 1.5lbs. But it still delivers an impressive 4,000 lux of LED illumination, with adjustable brightness and smart memory. Powered by an included USB cable, it heats up quite quickly, and we're not convinced this will last as long as, say, the Huion lightboxes. But then again at this price, does that matter?

Voilamart lightbox

(Image credit: Voilamart)

04. Voilamart A2 LED Tracing Board

The best lightbox for tracing A2

Specifications
Dimensions: 25.3 x 18.6 inches
Working area: 23 x 17 inches
Thickness: 0.3 inches
Weight: 6lbs
Brightness: 1,100 lux
Reasons to buy
+Large surface area+Up to 3100 Lux+Carrying case included
Reasons to avoid
-Not the cheapest

Looking to trace onto paper at large sizes, up to A2? Then here's our top pick. The Voilamart A2 LED Tracing Board has an impressively generous working area of 23 x 17 inches and three levels of brightness going up to 2,700 Lux, which is bright enough to trace through 4mm-thick watercolour paper. 

A special built in filter helps prevent eye fatigue. It's powered by either a wall plug or USB lead (both included). And it's easy to transport, weighing just 6lbs and coming with its own handy carrying case. You also get a metal clamp and a 60-inch long adapter for added mobility.

Best lightbox for tracing: Huion Super Large and Slim LED Light Box

05. Huion A2 LED Light Box

Another great lightbox for large sizes

Specifications
Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.6 x 0.3 inches
Working area: 20.5 x 12.6 inches
Thickness: 0.4 inches
Weight: 5.9lbs
Brightness: 1,100 lux
Reasons to buy
+Huge working area+Well built 
Reasons to avoid
-Working area not A2 -Only 1,100 lux

The Huion A2 LED Light Box is the biggest lightbox that Huion makes, and is the perfect choice if you're looking to trace very large artworks. We should point out that, despite the A2 in the title, the illuminated area is smaller than that, at 20.5 x 12.6 inches, although that's still pretty huge. It's also nice and slim at just 0.2 inches (5.1mm) thick, and weighs 0.6kg (1.3lbs). Like all the Huion light boxes, this is well built, features adjustable brightness and smart memory. It has a 78 inch-long USB cable, and offers a maximum brightness of 1,100 lux.

Best lightbox: US ART SUPPLY Lightmaster 32.5" Extra Large

(Image credit: US Art Supply)

06. US Art Supply Lightmaster Extra Large lightbox

The best premium-priced lightbox

Specifications
Dimensions: 26.33 x 19.5 inches
Working area: 17 x 24 inches
Weight: 4.8 lbs
Thickness: 0.33 inches
Brightness: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+A2 working surface+One year warranty+Freebies included
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Lightmaster from US Art Supply is the most expensive on our list, but it is a premium product. It boasts a 17 x 24 inch working area that will fit paper up to A2 nicely. It offers adjustable brightness, promises its LED lamps will last up to 50,000 hours, and offers a one-year unconditional full replacement warranty. It's lovely and slim, at just a third of an inch thick, and runs off AC power. And you get a measuring overlay grid and a circle template/protractor throw in with the price. 

The best lightbox for tracing in the UK

Huion A3 LightboxHuion A3 Lightbox

(Image credit: Huion)

01. Huion A3 LED Light Pad

The best lighbox for tracing overall

Specifications
Dimensions: 47.9 x 36.1cm
Working area: 42.9 x 30.9cm
Weight: 2.5kg
Thickness: 70mm
Brightness: 4,050 lux
Reasons to buy
+Superior build quality+4,050 lux brightness+Smart memory
Reasons to avoid
-Cord is quite short

Our pick for the best lightbox overall, the Huion A3 LED Light Pad offers brightness up to an impressive 4,050 Lux, allowing you to trace through the heaviest paper or fabrice. It provides you with a generous working area of 42.9 x 30.9cm (16.9 x 12.2 inches), lets you gradually adjust the level of brightness, and boasts a handy smart memory feature, which automatically remembers the last level of brightness you chose. And it It 

As with all Huion lightboxes, this model is very well-built and robust. It promises a lifespan of 50,000 hours and can be used for up to 24 hours without overheating. Weighing just 2.5kg, it's relatively portable, and it's powered by AC. The only possible niggle is that at 114cm, the power cable might not be long enough for your needs, so you may need to get an extension cable too.

Best lightbox for tracing: Huion L4S light pad

02. Huion L4S Light Pad

The best lightbox for tracing at A4 size

Specifications
Dimensions: 39.9 x 30.5cm
Working area: 30.9 x 20.8cm
Weight: 680g
Thickness: 3.56cm
Brightness: 1,100 lux
Reasons to buy
+Small and portable +Lightweight+Well built and robust
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1,100 lux

Want a smaller lightbox, to save space on your desk, and which is easier to carry from place to place? Then Huion’s L4S Light Pad is a great option. Like the larger Huion featured above, it's well built and robust, offers adjustable levels of brightness via the power button, and has a brightness memory function too. 

With a maximum of 1,100 lux, isn't the brightest lightbox on our list, but it’s still sufficient for most tracing purposes. It's powered by a 2m-long USB cable, and comes with a bulldog clip to fix your papers in place.

best light box for tracing: Huion Super Large and Slim LED Light Box

03. Huion A2 LED Light Pad

A great lightbox for tracing at large sizes

Specifications
Dimensions: 56.9 x 37.1cm
Working area: 51.9cm x 32cm
Thickness: 8mm
Weight: 2.7kg
Brightness: 1,100 lux
Reasons to buy
+Large working area +Solid construction
Reasons to avoid
-Working area not A2 -Only 1,100 lux

Need a large working area for your tracing? The Huion A2 LED Light Pad light box boasts the biggest on our list by far, at a generous 51.9cm x 32cm (20.5 x 12.6 inches). However, note that this is not actually A2 as suggested in the product's name: that's the size of the box, rather than the working area. 

Given its size, this lightbox is surprisingly slim at just 8mm, and comes with a 2m-long cable which you plug into the wall. Brightness goes up to 1,100 lux and is adjustable, plus there's a brightness memory function. Overall, this is a high-quality, solidly constructed model, that's perfect for tracing artwork at large sizes.

best light box for tracing: LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

04. LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

The best lightbox for creatives on a budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 56.9 x 37.1
Working area: 30.4 x 22.8cm
Weight: 680g
Thickness: 8mm
Brightness: 4,000 lux
Reasons to buy
+Cheap +4,000 lux brightness+360 day warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Can heat up quickly

Working within a tight budget? Then we’ll recommend the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box, which is the best lightbox available for a super-low price. Despite this, it provides very impressive levels of (fully adjustable) brightness, up to a massive 4,000 lux. It's powered by USB, and comes with a year-long warranty and hassle-free return policy. It can heat up quite quickly, so it's maybe not the best choice for prolonged professional use, but at this price it does still offer superb value. 

best lightbox: Lumsburry A3 LED light box

(Image credit: Lumsburry)

05. Lumsburry A3 LED light box

The best light box for A3 tracing on a budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 33 x 21.5cm
Working area: 29 x 42cm
Weight: 1.34kg
Thickness: 5.5mm
Brightness: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Large working area+Glove and non-slip mat included
Reasons to avoid
-Only 3 brightness levels

Another low-cost model, the Lumsburry A3 LED light box isn't just cheap, but lets you trace at A3 size. Although you don't get adjustive dimming, like the other options on our list, there are three different brightness levels to choose from, so there is some flexibility there. This lightbox comes with a ruler along the top and side edges, a drawing glove to keep your hand clean when working with charcoal or pencils, and a non-slip mat to keep in place. 

Best lightbox: Hand using pencil to trace drawing onto lightbox

(Image credit: Suncling)

06. Sun Cling A3 LED Light Box Tracer

A good all-rounder for an affordable price

Specifications
Dimensions: ‎52.07 x 38.35
Working area: 29 x 42cm
Weight: 476g
Thickness: 35.6mm
Brightness: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+Reasonable price+Fits A3+All-round performer
Reasons to avoid
-No wall plug

The Sun Cling A3 LED Light Box Tracer very reasonably priced lightbox that lets you trace onto paper up to A3 in size. Weighing less than 500g (just over 1lb), it's nicely portable and you can turn it on/off and adjust the brightness by touch. Overall, there's nothing particularly exciting about this lightbox, but it does the job well and comes it at an affordable price. Do note that it's powered by USB cable, so you'll need to plug into your laptop or a wall adapter.

How does a lightbox work?

A lightbox is quite a simple device. It's basically a square or rectangular container with a glass or plexiglass surface, and a light shining beneath it. You switch the light box on, place the image you want to copy on the glass, place your paper on top, and the light should enable you to see your image clearly enough to trace it.

Depending on the thickness of paper, you may have to dim the lights in your studio; the darker you make the room, the easier the image will be to see on the lightbox. 

Also note that while these devices are called ‘lightboxes’, they're not big, chunky and box-like. Most are indeed very sleek and thin, so they’re also often called ‘light tables’ or – more accurately still – ‘light pads’ as they’re similar in size and shape to a notepad, or indeed an iPad.

How to choose a lightbox

In this post, we’ve gathered together the the best lightboxes for tracing that represent the best value on the market today. They all offer a high level of transparency, and adjustable levels of brightness, to help with both accuracy and eye strain. So the choice between them will mainly come down to specifics like the size of working surface you need, how lightweight and portable you need the device to be, and how strong you need the light to be. 

The overall best lightbox for tracing, in our view, is the Huion A3 LED Light pad. That’s because it’s an extremely reliable and solid performer, offers a good range of brightness levels, a great brightness control system, and a generous work surface area. However, other models of lightbox may be more suited to your specific needs, so we’ve also included four others, each of which has a unique selling point.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.