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The best lightbox for tracing and drawing in 2022

Man using lightbox to trace an image onto paper: Best lightbox for drawing and tracing
(Image credit: Westend61 via Getty)

With the best lightbox for tracing and drawing, you have a simple but versatile tool at your disposal for all sorts of different applications. A lightbox is a simple thing – you place something that you want to trace on the box, be it a diagram, sketch, photo, illustration or whatever else. Then, the box shines a bright light through it, making it easy to trace onto professional drawing paper.

This can be great for calligraphy, scrapbooking, tattoo design, quilting and a hundred other pursuits. It may seem simple, but it is worth thinking about a few things before you wade in and click “Buy” on a lightbox. How much desk space do you have, and how large are the designs you want to trace? Lightboxes tend to come in sizes ranging from A2 to A4, so there’s no sense getting something too large or small for your requirements.  

Lightboxes tend to come in sizes ranging from A2 to A4

Also, if you’re planning on tracing onto thick, good-quality paper, you will need a very bright light to shine through it. Lightboxes will give you an idea of maximum brightness, expressed in lux – we’ve included options here that range from 1,100 lux to 4,050 lux, many of which allow you to adjust the brightness settings for different papers. Also, do you want a lightbox you can plug right into a wall socket with an AC cable, or are you fine to get by on USB power?

Options tend to be a little different across the Atlantic, so we’ve split this guide into two sections. First, we list the best lightboxes you can buy in the US, then we move to the best options for lightboxes for readers in the UK.

If you'll be doing digital drawing as well, make sure you also see our guides to the best drawing tablets and the best drawing tablets for kids, and for devices for other kinds of crafts, see our guide to the best Cricut accessories.

The best lightbox for tracing: US

Best lightbox for tracing: Huion A3 LightboxCB

(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
+
4,050 lux brightness
+
Generous working area

Reasons to avoid

-
Power cable could be longer

We think the Huion A3 LED Light Pad is an excellent all round lightbox. If you’re familiar with drawing tablets, then Huion is a name you’ll recognise – but you may not have been aware that the firm is also one of the leading names in the world of lightboxes. We’ve plumped for the Huion A3 LED Light Pad as our top pick – with the combination of a generous drawing area, a slim build and an impressive maximum brightness of 4,050 lux, it’s a lightbox that’s going to suit the vast majority of users.

Its LED illumination is cold and even, as well as powerful enough to shine through even the thickest papers. Also, in a nice touch, the Huion A3 LED Light Pad has a smart memory feature, meaning it can remember the last brightness level you used. If you’re returning time and again to a longform project on the same paper stock, this can be a real time-saver. 

With a working area of 16.9 x 12.2 inches, you’ve got plenty of drawing space. One annoyance we did find is that the AC cable is a little short, at just 44 inches, which may restrict where you can place the lightbox in your home. However, given that Huion rates this lightbox to have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, and it has the capability to be used for up to 24 hours continuously without overheating, this is one of the best options for those who plan to get a lot of use out of their lightbox. So maybe you can move your desk around.  

Best lightbox: Huion L4S Light PadCB endorsed

(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: 1.3lbs
Thickness: 0.2 inches
Brightness: 1,100 lux

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and portable 
+
Lightweight
+
High build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 1100 lux

The Huion L4S Light Pad is a good choice for anyone who feels like they don’t need or want the bulk of an A3 lightbox – it’s A4 sized, but still comes with loads of useful features, including adjustable brightness and the smart memory feature that can remember your settings. 

This means it’s a good lightbox for taking up less space in your office, studio or bedroom. Also, the fact that the Huion L4S Light Pad weighs just 0.59kg makes it much more travel-friendly than a lot of the bigger lightboxes out there. 

It’s worth being aware that the maximum brightness is much lower than that of the Huion A3 LED Light Pad, hitting 1,100 lux. This is still enough for most purposes, but it’s something to be aware of. In the box you get a bulldog clip for securing your paper, as well as a generously sized 78-inch USB cable for charging purposes.

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

We’d recommend the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box for budget-conscious creatives, as it’s a popular choice on Amazon and offers all the features you need from a lightbox.

Even with its slender price tag, the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box packs in impressive specs, with a maximum adjustable brightness of 4,000 lux of LED illumination. There’s also the smart memory feature that can retain your settings, like with Huion’s options, and the lightbox itself is very slim and lightweight, making it easy to transport.

One word of caution – the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box does get hot. It’s powered by a USB cable, and if you leave it running too long you’ll start to notice it heating up. This makes us think it might not last as long as the Huion options (though of course, we haven’t been able to test it for 50,000 hours to check). Overall though, this is a solid budget lightbox that comes well recommended. 

Voilamart lightbox

(Image credit: Voilamart)

04. Voilamart A2 LED Tracing Board

The best lightbox for tracing on 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 3,100 lux
+
Carrying case included

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest

The Voilamart A2 LED Tracing Board is our pick as the best lightbox for tracing on up to A2 size paper. It 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. It also has a special built-in filter to help prevent eye fatigue. 

You have the flexibility of powering this lightbox either from the wall or via USB (both connectors are included). Despite the size, it's easy to transport too, weighing just 6lbs and coming with its own handy carrying case. You also get a metal clamp and a 60-inch long adapter for extra mobility.

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

05. Huion A2 LED Light Box

Another brilliant 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

Another good lightbox for large sizes is the Huion A2 LED Light Box, which is the biggest lightbox from Huion. We should point out that, despite the A2 in the title, the illuminated area is actually smaller than that, at 20.5 x 12.6 inches, although that's still pretty huge. 

The Huion A2 LED Light Box is nice and slim at just 0.2 inches (5.1mm), and it weighs just 5.9lbs. Like all the Huion lightboxes, it's well built, and it features adjustable brightness and smart memory. This model provides a maximum brightness of 1,100 lux. It comes with a 78 inch-long USB cable.

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 lightbox

Specifications

Dimensions: 26.33 x 19.5 inches
Working area: 17 x 24 inches
Weight: 4.8lbs
Thickness: 0.33 inches
Brightness: 2,900 lux

Reasons to buy

+
A2 working surface
+
One year warranty
+
Freebies included

Reasons to avoid

-
May be overkill

The Lightmaster from US Art Supply is the most expensive lightbox on our list, but for the price, you get what is very much a premium product, and one of the best lightboxes you can get if you're not on a limited budget. 

The Lightmaster from US Art Supply boasts a 17 x 24-inch working area that will fit paper up to A2 comfortably and it provides adjustable brightness up to a maximum of 2,900 lux. This lightbox is also wonderfully slim, at just a third of an inch thick.

The LED lamps are promised to last up to 50,000 hours and the lightbox comes with a one-year unconditional full replacement warranty. It runs off AC power, and you get a measuring overlay grid and a circle template/protractor thrown in. It will be overkill for some, but if you want a huge premium lightbox, and you live in the US, this is a good option.

The best lightbox for tracing: UK

Huion A3 LightboxCB

(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

Widely available internationally, the Huion A3 LED Light Pad is our top choice as the best lightbox in the UK as well as in the US. It offers brightness up to an impressive 4,050 lux, allowing you to trace through the heaviest paper or fabric, it lets you adjust the level of brightness, and its handy smart memory feature automatically remembers the level of brightness you last used. 

This lightbox provides a generous working area of 42.9 x 30.9cm (16.9 x 12.2 inches), and, as with all Huion lightboxes, it's very robust and well-built. 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. Our one small niggle with this lightbox is that measuring only 114cm, the power cable isn't the longest and some people will probably need an extension cable.

Best lightbox for tracing: Huion L4S light padCB endorsed

02. Huion L4S Light Pad

The best lightbox for tracing at smaller sizes

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

The Huion L4S Light Pad is our second choice for the best lightbox is also the same on both sides of the Atlantic. For a smaller lightbox that saves space on your desk and is easier to carry from place to place, Huion’s L4S Light Pad is a fantastic choice. Like the larger Huion lightbox above, it's well built and robust, offers adjustable levels of brightness via the power button, and has a brightness memory function too. 

In this case, the maximum level of brightness is lower, at 1,100 lux. That isn't the brightest, but it will still be sufficient for most tracing purposes unless you're using really thick support. The lightbox is powered by a 2m-long USB cable, and it 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

The best lightbox for tracing at large sizes in the UK

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

The best lightbox for those in the UK who need a larger option is the Huion A2 LED Light Pad. It's the largest lightbox on our UK list, measuring a generous 56.9 x 37.1cm, although note that this is the size of the whole device, not the working area. Despite this lightbox's name, the working area isn't actually quite as large as A2.

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

best light box for tracing: LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

04. LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box

The best cheap lightbox for tracing

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

If you have less money to spend on a lightbox, we suggest taking a look at the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box, which is the best lightbox available at a truly economical price. It still provides very impressive fully adjustable levels of brightness, right up to a massive 4,000 lux. 

The LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box is powered by USB, and comes with a year-long warranty and hassle-free return policy. It can heat up quite quickly, so it's probably not the best choice for prolonged professional use, but at this price, it offers brilliant value.

best lightbox: Lumsburry A3 LED light box

(Image credit: Lumsburry)

05. Lumsburry A3 LED light box

The best lightbox for tracing at A3 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

And if you have a tight budget but need to trace at a larger size? Then in steps another low-cost model, the Lumsburry A3 LED light box. This option's cheap and lets you trace at A3 size. You don't get the fully adjustable dimming like on the other options on our list, but there are three different brightness levels to choose from, so it does offer some flexibility. 

The Lumsburry A3 LED light box also 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 four non-slip mats to keep it in place. It comes with a USB cable for power.

Best lightbox: Hand using pencil to trace drawing onto lightbox

(Image credit: Suncling)

06. Sun Cling A3 LED Light Box Tracer

A general-use lightbox at 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 is another 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, and it's slightly more expensive than the option above without adding much in terms of extra features. However, it does the job well and comes at an affordable price. Again. it's powered by USB cable, so you'll need to plug it into your laptop or a wall adapter.

The best lightbox: frequent questions

What is a lightbox?

A lightbox is quite a simple device. It's basically a square or rectangular container that has a glass or plexiglass surface with a light shining beneath it. You switch it on, place an image you want to copy onto the glass, and then place your paper or fabric on top. The light should shine through your paper, enabling you to see the image below clearly enough to trace it.

Depending on the thickness of the paper or fabric you use and the brightness of the lightbox, you may need to dim the lights in your studio or office, since the darker you make the room, the easier it will be to see the image on the lightbox. 

Also note that while these devices are conventionally dubbed ‘lightboxes’, they're not actually so big and chunky. Most are thin and sleek, and not so box-like, so you'll also see them referred to as ‘light tables’, or even more accurately as ‘light pads’ since they’re quite similar in size and shape to a notepad, or even an iPad.

What is the best lightbox?

In our opinion, the best lightbox for tracing overall at the moment is the Huion A3 LED Light pad. It’s a very reliable, solid performer, offers a good range of brightness levels, a great brightness control system, and a generous work surface area. 

However, other lightboxes may suit your specific needs if you need to work at larger sizes, want to save space on your desk, or if you have a tighter (or larger) budget, so, in the guide above, we've included a range of options, each with its own selling points.

How much does a lightbox cost?

Most lightboxes cost somewhere between $20 / £15 and $100 / £75, but there are much more expensive models for specialist purposes, which can run into the hundreds of dollars/pounds. Generally, it's accurate to say that you get what you pay for, with cheaper lightboxes often providing lower levels of brightness and tending to overheat more quickly. 

The choice of the best lightbox for you will usually come down to budget and four specific factors: the size of working surface you need, how strong you need the light to be (in general, the thicker your paper, the higher the level of brightness you'll need), how lightweight and portable you want the device to be, and the type of power supply you require.

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.