Having a light pad can significantly impact your work, whether you’re an illustrator, diamond painter, embroiderer, calligrapher, tattoo artist — the list goes on.
These devices are undeniable game-changers for tired eyes and lengthy crafting sessions, especially if your projects tend to be detailed or require meticulous tracing.
Apart from your classic box, there are a bunch of LED pads worth checking out; these are lightweight, mostly portable, and come in different sizes to benefit all types of artwork.
If you’re having difficulty figuring out which will suit you best, check out our suggestions below; we’ve included a comprehensive list to shed some light on (pun intended!) the best light boxes and light pads available.
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Best light boxes and light pads: Quick picks
HSK A2 Light Box Light Pad
- Excellent quality for an affordable price
- Brightness compatible with multiple projects
- Models available in A2, A3, and A4
Mlife Diamond Painting A4 LED Light Pad
- Popular pad for diamond painters
- Perfect brightness for detail
Artograph LightTracer Light Box
- Up to 14,000 lux
- Great for thick paper and fabric
- Slanted design for comfort
Best light boxes and light pads
- Best overall: HSK A2 Light Box Light Pad
- Best budget-friendly: LitEnergy Portable A4 Light Box
- Best portable: Cricut BrightPad Go
- Best portable A2 light pad: Daylight Lighting — Wafer 3
- Best ultra-thin: Native Lighting A4
- Best for weeding vinyl: Cricut BrightPad
- Best for diamond painting: Mlife A4 LED Light Pad
- Best for illustration: Artograph LightTracer Light Box
- Best for children: IMAGE Light Up Tracing Pad
- Best for photography: Litebox Light Box
How to choose the best light boxes and light pads
While a single light pad can often cater to various crafts, it’s always best to find an option that suits a specific medium or project type.
That said, it’s always a good idea to review product features beyond brand and price to make sure you’re making the best investment possible.
Light pads for home use come in A2, A3, and A4 sizes. To know which is best for you, consider the size of your projects.
Will you be diamond painting a large canvas? Tracing directly into your sketchbook? Preparing intricate needlecraft patterns? Also, decide if you want your device to be portable — the smaller it is, the more convenient it will be to carry.
On the other hand, a larger-sized pad will accommodate a broader range of project types and is ideal if you primarily craft at your desk.
If you’re looking for the best craft tables and desks, check out our suggestions here!
It’s impossible to speak about these devices without mentioning brightness.
Many already incorporate adjustable brightness settings. However, it’s essential to understand your workspace beforehand — the darker your room is, the less light intensity you’ll need. And, of course, consider your materials.
If you’re working with thick watercolor paper or fabric, choose a device that offers a higher brightness intensity. If you work with delicate, thin materials, too much brightness can be over the top and sore your eyes.
A device with ~1,500-3,000 lux (light intensity) is a good standard for most crafts, especially if you’re leaning toward more technical, intricate work.
USB charged light pads are increasingly becoming the most common and practical, giving you the option to connect your cable to anything from your laptop to a portable power bank.
A battery-run device has its advantages, including portability. However, that does mean it will need to be recharged regularly and is more prone to flickering brightness.
An AC adaptor is one of the best options because it provides more consistent, long-lasting light, especially beneficial if you tend to craft throughout several hours will little interruption.
Best light boxes and lights pads
There’s no doubt that a light box or pad can be one of the most valuable tools you can add to your craft station. Scroll through our recommendations below to find yours!
Best light box overall: HSK A2 Light Box Light Pad
Combining affordability, practicality, and quality, this light pad is our top pick, offering all the versatility you need whether you’re a professional or hobbyist.
Featuring a super-thin 6mm frame, this model comes in three different sizes (A2, A3, and A4) and has a 4,500 lux capacity, guaranteeing excellent brightness for a myriad of projects.
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Digital artists, urban sketchers, tattoo artists, diamond painters, and needlecrafters will significantly benefit from this model. The device includes five dimming settings, providing flexible light adjustment according to your materials and setting.
No matter what size you pick, this is a super worthwhile product that will grant you quality crafting within a very reasonable budget. It’s lightweight and sturdy, but all models require an external power source — no batteries here.
Best budget-friendly light box: LitEnergy Portable A4 Light Box
This A4 ultra-thin portable light pad comes in four colors with adjustable brightness settings and flicker-free illumination for a little under $20 — the perfect option to test the waters without burning a hole in your pocket!
While the brand does offer A2 and A3 models, the A4-sized pad is the ideal budget-friendly purchase if you work on small-scale projects like sketching, diamond painting, watercolors, and storyboarding, boasting a maximum of 6,000 lux.
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A USB cable powers the pad, and although the charging cord is a little on the short side, it’ll work perfectly, whether connected to a computer or power bank — a great way to keep your device charged when on the go!
Besides price and providing excellent grip onto paper, one of the highlights of this product is how thin it is, making it easy to carry and perfect to slip into the pages of your sketchbook for tracing: no need to rip out pages here!
Best portable light pad: Cricut BrightPad Go
Cricut is a top cutting machine brand that develops exciting materials for demanding crafters, such as this high-quality portable light pad.
This model offers five brightness settings (4,200 lux max.), a non-slip base, and a super sturdy surface that’s up to six times more resistant than most devices.
It measures 11.5 x 9 inches (29.2 x 22.8 cm), is very lightweight, and includes a built-in rechargeable battery that allows for over two hours of cordless crafting. This means you can transport your device where you deem convenient, whether your designated craft station or your couch!
The portable light pad comes with a micro USB cable and USB adapter. It’s compatible with several crafts although particularly appealing if you own a Cricut cutting machine and are into weeding vinyl projects.
Best portable A2 light pad: Daylight Lighting — Wafer 3
If a portable model is what you’re looking for but need something a little larger, this ultra-slim and ultra-bright A2 light pad is a great option.
This device boasts uniform brightness throughout its surface and accommodates various paper types and fabric thicknesses.
Read also: Best calligraphy sets and kits for beginners
Perfect for everything from sketching, calligraphy, and scrapbooking to embroidery and sewing, this device provides optimal color matching and dimmable light settings — highly recommended for needlework and fiber artists.
The marking guide along the sides of the pad will help guide you through your projects to make sure you work with precision and efficiency. The A2 model features an illuminated surface of 23.6 x 18 inches (60 x 46 cm) and comes with a mains adapter for charging.
Best ultra-thin light box: Native Lighting A4
The Native Lighting Light Box is an excellent option if you’re looking for a more professional, ultra-thin device with more advanced features.
Also available in A3, this A4 light pad offers dimmable settings, a ruler marked around its sides (in both centimeters and inches), and a maximum brightness of 4,900 lux.
One of the item’s highlights is that it emits little heat, meaning that you’ll have the advantage of enjoying extended periods of uninterrupted crafting time since it takes longer for the device to overheat vs. average light pads.
Suited for calligraphy, sketching, tracing, embossing, and more, the device also boasts a top-quality distribution of light across its surface, making it adaptable to various projects.
This light pad is lightweight, vegan-friendly, and USB-charged and is an especially great pick if you’re looking for a more professional model that will keep up with long hours of creative work.
Best light pad for weeding vinyl: Cricut BrightPad
Next up is another Cricut brand product, offering all the features you need for an impeccable weeding vinyl experience.
The light pad is lightweight and super scratch-resistant and showcases a non-slip surface that enhances carefree crafting on its 11.5 x 9 inch (29.2 x 22.8 cm) surface.
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Although it’s the top contender for weeding vinyl (especially if you’re thinking of purchasing or already own a Cricut cutting machine!), it’s also an excellent pick for crafts that involve pattern designing and jewelry-making.
It includes three brightness levels and a potent LED light (3,800 lux) that helps see the most precise lines. In addition, this specific model has a USB power cable and is four times more resistant than your average light box.
Best light box for diamond painting: Mlife A4 LED Light Pad
Having a designated craft table and a complete diamond painting kit will undoubtedly get you started with the craft, but getting a light pad will definitely make life easier.
Portable and slim, this 4.7mm thick A4 light box for diamond painting is a fantastic, budget-friendly solution with eyesight protection, flicker-free technology, and adjustable lighting settings: ideal for spotting the smallest of details.
Read also: Essential diamond painting tools
This pack includes a USB charger, four clips to keep your sheets in place, and a detachable stand with three adjustable angles. This is a particularly helpful feature diamond painters will appreciate to avoid bad posture and enjoy hours of strain-free crafting.
Besides being affordable, lightweight, and portable, this light box for diamond painting is an excellent investment if your craft requires reading and following specific color codes or symbols such as cross-stitch, paint-by-numbers, or even latch hooking!
Best light box for illustration: Artograph LightTracer Light Box
The Artography light pad is a popular option due to its excellent illumination and is especially sought-after by sketchers and illustrators.
This product offers an immense range of brightness (5,000 – 14,000 lux) across a 10 × 12 inch (~25 x ~30cm) surface. It’s highly compatible with drawing styles that require detail, such as storyboarding, comic book illustration, and architectural sketching.
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Nevertheless, it’s also an option to consider if you work with fabric or thick materials. The pad’s slanted design is another beneficial feature, allowing you to rest your arm organically as you work.
If you tend to vary between sitting and standing while you craft away (perfect for standing desk aficionados!), the box’s sloped surface makes it really comfortable to work on, no matter your angle.
However, the bulky design isn’t very portable, so you’ll want to keep this on on your desk.
Best light pad for children: IMAGE Light Up Tracing Pad
This IMAGE light pad is a fun item for kids and an entertaining tool to add to their budding craft stations.
The device is manufactured in blue and pink, is 5mm thin, lightweight, portable — and under $30. You can also adjust brightness, and, best of all, the box set includes multiple sheets of traceable images of plants and animals!
Read also: Best children’s book illustration classes
Appropriate for ages six and up, this is a great way to get young artists to appreciate craftsy hobbies from an early age. Keep in mind that this product is targeted at children, so it isn’t an item to purchase if you’re a serious crafter.
Also, one of the product’s downsides is that it doesn’t include clips to secure paper down, which can get challenging when tracing. However, this is something you can easily DIY with a bit of imagination and a few household items!
Best light box for photography: Litebox
Last up is the Litebox — a compact, aesthetic light box oozing nostalgia that every retro-loving photographer will want.
This lightweight device measures 12 × 16 inches (30 × 41 cm) and is ideal for viewing film negatives and color slides. Besides a self-storing cord, the box lights up by the touch of a switch to activate a 15W daylight bulb.
While you can purchase this item to trace and draw, it will not provide the equal brightness expected from a LED-illuminated device. This is because its classic design and bulb tend to centralize light vs. spreading brightness and, therefore, is most compatible with small-scale projects.
Because it’s so compact, this item can fit and be stored comfortably in tighter craft spaces, although it’s definitely a piece worth showcasing as décor when not in use.
That’s it for our guide to the best light boxes and light pads! Any advice for other intrepid crafters? Let everyone know in the comments below!