Saturday 15 April 2017

How to Make a Shadow Box Set Up for Still Life Work

(Note: for ages 12 +. Children will need to ask for an adult’s assistance with cutting).

Shadow boxes are a cheap and easy method of controlling the light that hits small subject matter for still life works. 

They cut out extra light sources that make the subject matter too complicated, and those light sources that will move through the day, such as sunlight from a window.
Shadow boxes are perfect when you are learning or when using media that take a long time (such as acrylics and oil paints).

You’ll need a cardboard box, serrated knife, scissors, a hanging cloth, pegs or clips, (packing tape), a lamp (preferably a study lamp that you can angle). Very generally, the cardboard box needs to be two to three times the size of the subject matter you want to draw, to leave some space around your subject matter.
Make that your shadow box is taped at the bottom, otherwise tape it with packing tape.

Step 1
Take your cardboard box and turn it on its side, placing the bottom of the box at the back (as this is the strongest side). Use your scissors to cut off or through any plastic or tape etc.
Step 2
Using a serrated knife, (I prefer steak knives), cut the cardboard flaps off. You may find it easier to start cuts with the scissors then continue using the knife. Remember to cut away from you.

Step 3
Cut out the top panel (only). You’ll find it easier if you cut through the folds as these are usually a bit thinner. This makes the standard shadow box. Don’t worry about the rough edges – they’ll be covered.

Step 4
Check out how this works for you. You make find it a little too closed in. You can choose to shape the box down at the front:

Step 5
Place your cloth into the box and spread it out. You don’t want it too lumpy at the bottom but a few folds will look elegant and interesting. Use the pegs or clips to keep it in place.
Orient your light as you would like and now you are ready for your still life study!

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