best light table
Lightbox photo by Jeffrey Safran

Best Lightbox Art Board For Drawing & Tracing

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Artists can use lightboxes for tracing over drawings or calligraphy onto new sheets of paper. They can also be used to transfer old drawings or to create traditional 2D animation from scratch.

But regardless of why you need a lightbox I still recommend the XP-Pen 18″ LED Light Table as my #1 pick.

This is one of the few models that’s affordable, well-designed, and offers a variety of shapes & sizes. It uses an 18″ design with a DC power adapter and swivel stand. But you can get other sizes of the same brand for A3 size or even running on USB power.

xppen led tablet

Overall this lightbox is definitely the best bang for your buck.

However I’m sure you want to dig a bit deeper to see what else is out there. So in this post I’ll cover everything you need to know about the best lightboxes and light tables to find the perfect one for your needs.

Features To Consider

Every lightbox is designed with unique specs and dimensions. Some lightbox screens are sized for A4 paper, others for A3 paper or even A2(among other sizes).

This is something you have to think about before getting a lightbox. What size do you need?

Will this be for copying ideas out of a sketchbook? Or is this more for big sheets of calligraphy or fine artwork?

Also you’ll need to think about USB or DC power since not every lightbox offers both. You could buy two different lightboxes, one with a wall charger and another for USB power. But this kinda defeats the point of owning one simple lightbox.

Other topics to think about when looking over this list:

  • Heat
  • Weight
  • Comfort
  • Brightness settings

Some backlight screens are designed differently than others including the surface material. You’ll usually want a clear LED surface display with adjustable options to change the brightness.

But the best size, shape, and features will all differ based on why you’re getting a light table.

How To Pick

First consider what you’re looking for. Is it a light table for tracing existing drawings? Or do you want to transfer old drawings onto better paper?

For this you’ll probably want a very large light box suitable for any sized artwork.

But what about for animation or cartooning? This can shape your decision because you might want a smaller lightbox that’s portable and easier to rotate.

Some even come with swivel stands where you can lock the lightbox in place and rotate it for better drawing angles.

As long as you know why you’re getting a lightbox and if you have a budget in mind then you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect product.

But let’s look at some of our picks for the best light box to see how they stack up. I’ll share my thoughts on each one including top recommendations.

XP-Pen 18″ LED Light Table

xppen 18 lightbox

I chose the XP-Pen LED light table as the #1 pick because it’s one of the best performers with long-lasting LED lights. This unit mitigates heat dramatically which also extends the life of the lightbox.

It measures about 14″ wide and 10½” tall. This leaves plenty of room for a standard sheet of A4 paper on the light screen background.

Screen brightness settings can be adjusted by holding the button in the back of the unit. And with XP-Pen’s smart memory feature it’ll automatically remember your previously-used brightness setting.

This is perfect for tracing really big drawings that might require multiple sittings to complete the job.

And this specific unit comes with its own stand too. You can adjust the hinges to change the light box’s tilt for drawing at an angle. It’s powered by a DC wall outlet so it can shine brighter than most USB-powered options.

Bottom line this thing is a beast. For the price it’s definitely the best lightbox you can get.

And XP-Pen even has an option to choose between A3 or A4 size. Both options can come with or without the stand, plus the A4 size even lets you get a USB-powered lightbox to make it portable.

 

Litup A3 Light Box

litup lp3 lightbox

Another really great choice is the Litup LP3 A3 Light Box which is quite a bit larger than the XP-Pen A4 unit.

Litup is a great company for lightboxes and they have tons of product lines. But the LP3 A3 is one of my favorites coming with the standard DC power cable.

This unit weighs about 3lbs and only measures 33 millimeters thin. Yet surprisingly it still feels very firm when resting your palm on the display. You might think it’d be at risk of cracking but this is one of the stronger lightboxes in this collection.

If you go with Litup you’ll get an 18-month manufacturer’s warranty that guarantees the life of all LED bulbs and full working operation of this lightbox for that whole year and a half.

The design is fantastic and since it’s so thin you can take this anywhere. But one thing you will notice is the lack of any rubber feet on the back.

You can’t really lay this down flat on a desk without some type of padding or block to keep it from sliding. This might be annoying if you prefer to trace flat, but it works great if you apply some pressure or if you keep it leaning against something.

Naturally this also comes with a gradation of light settings so you can adjust as needed.

I’d highly recommend this for anyone who wants a big tracing panel for everyday use. And can be handy for more than just tracing if you need to backlight anything like letters or tattoo art.

 

Artograph LightTracer Light Box

artograph lightbox

Sometimes you’ll just want a really small lightbox for checking letters, tracing calligraphy, or even for your kids to practice drawing.

The Artograph LightTracer is super affordable and perfectly designed for a hobbyist. It measures 10 inches wide by 12 inches long with a slanted surface that slants down towards you.

This slant can be annoying if you’re looking for a flat unit. But it’s designed this way so you can draw on a flat desk without hunching over the lightbox. The lighting does shine evenly across the whole surface but it doesn’t light the outer sides of the box.

Two things I really like about the LightTracer:

  • It’s less than 3lbs
  • It’s easy to carry anywhere

You might feel weird plopping this onto a table in the cafe or in your school’s cafeteria. But it’s perfectly designed for on-the-go use or for saving space at home.

I also recommend the Artograph LightTracer for kids who want a lightbox to trace cartoons or books. It’s the perfect size for kids and it’s easy to store anywhere.

Not to mention this is one of the cheaper lightboxes you can get that still offers a quality tracing experience.

 

Huion Thin A3 Light Pad With Holder

huion thin a3 lightpad

I’ve reviewed a number of Huion tablets and one thing I like is their construction. They all feel firm and support the weight of your hand while drawing.

That’s why this Huion A3 Lightbox is definitely a runner-up for the best pick. It is a bit pricier than some but it also comes with its own stand. This stand works on a swivel so you can rotate the lightbox a complete 360° for full control.

Huion’s thin lightbox design comes in three different sizes: A2, A3, and A4. All of them come with the swivel holder so in my opinion the price is justified. But it’s also the reason I couldn’t put this as my top pick.

Honestly if price is no problem then Huion all the way. It’s a fantastic lightbox measuring about 7mm thick(only about ⅓ of an inch thick).

However it is a bit heavier than most since it weighs about 6lbs. This is for the A3 model and weights do vary based on size.

All these Huion lightboxes also come with light switches to alter the dimness as needed.

I really do like Huion’s work and this lightbox is one of the best of its kind.

 

Missyee LED Artist Light Board

missyee light board

I’ve never used the Missyee brand before so I can’t vouch for their other stuff. But the Missyee LED Light Board is one of the best in class for its size and price range.

This model is definitely thicker than the other lightboxes I’ve featured. The A3-sized board comes at 2.5 inches thick weighing just over 5lbs. The entire lightbox is a standard size for A3 with 21.5 inches wide and 16 inches tall.

But with this lightbox you’ll get quite a few extras inside.

Specifically a couple binder clips, a carrying bag, a rotating pad, and free copies of tracing paper. So if you’re looking for the best deal this is probably it!

Out of all the lightbox stands this one is the best, or at least in the top three. The stand extends up a bit and swivels in a full circle to make drawing/tracing easier.

Because it’s so thick this lightbox feels durable so you’ll never worry about applying too much pressure. And it comes with 3 settings for the backlight dimmer so you can adjust as needed.

One negative is the highest brightness setting can be blinding. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but in a dark room you might need to adjust your eyes. But I’d rather have a lightbox that’s a touch on the brighter side rather than being too dim.

 

Arich A4 USB Light Box

arich a4 usb lightbox

The Arich A4 USB Light Box is the cheapest choice among all the major lightboxes. I personally think it’s a fantastic budget lightbox for artists who can work from a USB cable.

It’s about 1.5 inches thick which offers a nice middle ground. Not grossly thick or paper thin. The total dimensions measure about 17 inches wide by 11 inches tall. This naturally takes a landscape orientation but you can adjust the position as needed.

The tracing surface is all made of glass so it’s not plastic or anything cheap. However the glass doesn’t feel loose or at risk of breaking.

One thing I don’t like is the dot pattern behind the glass. It doesn’t affect tracing but it does often distract my eye while drawing.

On the plus side it is cheap and easy to carry as a travel lightbox. And the USB cable comes with a wall adapter so you can run this baby through your computer or any wall outlet.

 

AGPtek 17″ A4 Light Box

agptek light box

If you are on a budget and need a cheaper A4-sized tracing box then check out the AGPtek A4 Light Box. It only comes in one size so you’ll have to work with the A4 design.

But it is very affordable and the dimensions are reasonable. It’s about 1.5 inches thick with 17 inches wide and just under 11 inches tall. This is your standard A4 lightbox design so there’s nothing strange with the specs.

I do like how this drawing surface uses acrylic instead of glass. It feels incredibly stable so you don’t need to worry about storage. It’ll also hold up during travel which is a bonus.

And since it only weighs 2lbs it makes the perfect travel companion.

The AGPtek also comes with a dual USB/outlet option so it’s the perfect unit for multiple purposes. I recommend this for serious artists or designers who are working on a budget. The design feels sturdy and it works as both a USB+outlet lightbox for maximum support.

 

Uriver Thin A4 LED Light Board

uriver a4 light board

Cheap, simple, and right down to business. That’s what you’ll get with Uriver’s A4 LED Light Board.

I think this is best suited for an office environment or a professional artist studio. It is the typical A4 size but it’s not flashy and certainly not heavy with features.

This doesn’t feel like a whole box since it’s only about half an inch thick. If we’re gonna get specific this is a light pad designed much like a drawing pad or sketchbook. It uses bright LED display lights that can shine through multiple sheets of paper.

Unfortunately this does not come with any switches to change the brightness setting. It’s a budget option for simple purposes like tracing tattoos, calligraphy, or working with documents. It works well as a travel pad and comes with a full USB-to-wall adapter cable measuring 6′ long.

This should be more than enough room to reach from a laptop or a wall outlet. But you can also replace the cord with any other micro-USB cable so it’s a great product for longterm use.

My biggest complaint is the lack of an on/off switch. How does a lightbox designer not add a freaking on/off switch? That right there might be enough to skip over this item.

But I do think the Uriver light pad can work well for anyone who needs a real simple A4 light pad and not much else.

 

ME456 A2/A3/A4 LED Light Box

me456 light box

Some people have trouble with bright lights and this can make lightboxes annoyingly difficult to use. The ME456 A2 LED Light Box comes with a film cover that reduces LED light while keeping it bright enough to draw on.

The drawing surface is designed for no glare using non-flicker LED lights. It’s one of the longest lasting lightboxes you can get and it’ll stand the test of time for years.

The A2 lightbox measures 24″ wide by 17″ tall so it’s a pretty large. This is also the largest model they offer in the series of A2, A3, and A4 lightboxes.

All these sizes come in the same design so you’ll basically be getting the same lightbox. Only difference is size of the drawing space.

This is powered by a DC wall cable and it comes with a dimmer switch to reduce the brightness. And if you need to measure precise marks then you’ll like the outer measurements.

Along all four sides you’ll notice tiny marks that measure inches like a built-in ruler. If you’re looking to make straight lines you’ll still need a ruler or yardstick or something. But these measurement markers work well for making quick estimations on your paper.

The ME456 lightbox is reasonably priced for each of the A2/A3/A4 units. It is a wall-only device but if you only need a home model this can work wonders.

 

MSRM A3 LED Light Pad

msrm a3 light pad

A very similar and much cheaper alternative to the above is the MSRM LED light pad. This has a similar design offering A2, A3, and A4 sizes.

I do find this a bit heavier and clunkier than the ME456. But it feels a lot stronger too, as in it can probably take a hit and be OK. Still I wouldn’t try dropping it!

But the best thing about the MSRM is all the free stuff you get.

The A4/A2 models come with binder clips and a free tote bag. The A3 model has this too but it also comes with a swivel stand. For some reason this swivel stand doesn’t come with the other models, but either way these goodies are a nice bonus for the price.

Each one comes with an adjustor switch working on gradation so you can continually adjust the brightness settings. The largest downside is that many customers have had issues with lights shorting out quickly.

This should be covered under a 1yr manufacturer’s warranty. But it might not be worth the risk of needing to send it back for a replacement.

The MSRM light pad is certainly an OK buy. In my opinion the ME456 would be a better choice, but if you’re on a budget then this works well too.

 

Best Lightbox For Animators

Animators want flexibility to do their work with a powerhouse piece of equipment that’ll swivel and rotate with ease. For that I’d recommend Missyee’s Light Board full of measurement lines and custom brightness settings.

It also comes with a light board stand so you can rest the board at an angle. This board is light, easy to carry, easy to maneuver, and and super easy to setup anywhere.

Some animators prefer a rotating light box like the Artograph LightPad Revolution. But I don’t find this useful unless it’s built into a desk or a drawing setup.

Instead I’d recommend the Missyee light board since it’s plenty large enough(21.5″ wide x 16″ tall) to fit any sort of animation paper or tracing paper. The board measures at an A3 size and the drawing surface is super bright.

I can’t say this is the perfect choice for every animator. But it should suit almost every animation project and it’s a sturdy model that will last for years.

And if you’re getting a lightbox for animation I would at least reach for an A3 or A2 design. These do cost a little more but they’re much more versatile when planning and tracing sketches.

 

Best Budget Lightbox

If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck then check out the AGPtek A4 Light Box. It’s one of the cheapest options in this list and it has a few impressive features.

Firstly it’s all acrylic so there’s no glass to worry about breaking. It’s very light and easy to carry so you can drag this thing anywhere.

And it comes with a full USB cable with adapter so you can power this bad boy through your laptop or through any wall outlet. It’s the most versatile tablet here and there’s no major risk for being damaged while in transit.

This is also a very popular choice for any type of tracing/stencil/copying work. Yes it’s great for artists. But it can work just as well for coloring, calligraphy, handwriting, stencils, or other similar crafts.

The AGPtek light box is one of the best multi-purpose options. This is also true of the XP-Pen light box except the price difference makes this better for anyone on a budget.

I would undeniably recommend AGPtek’s lightbox to anyone looking for a high quality and affordable light box without sacrificing top features.

 

Final Pick: Best of the Best

Making a final choice I still stand by the XP-Pen 18″ LED Light Table for it’s build, features, and large variety of sizing options.

You can get this in A3 or A4 with either USB or DC power. In many ways this can be annoying if you want to have something that plugs right into your computer and the wall. But it’s also useful enough to justify the divide with similar features either way.

If you want a light box supporting both USB+DC then you might consider a smaller unit like Uriver’s A4 LED Light Board. This only comes in A4 size but it can be powered by either cable.

XP-Pen’s build and style feels much stronger and it offers A4 sizes too(among other sizes). Their LED light box is specially designed to reduce heat and keep the light bright without causing eye strain.

But if for any reason you don’t like the XP-Pen display then take another look over this list!

I guarantee with some effort and research you can find the right light box for whatever your needs may be.