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This post was most recently updated on November 7th, 2021

Do you want to make your own softbox but don’t want to spend a fortune? Perhaps yours has broken, and you are after a low-budget option for now?

Or maybe you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a fortune on a softbox? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

Softboxes play a vital role in photography and tend to be in every photographer’s collection. However, they aren’t the cheapest item to buy, and the cost puts many budding photographers off, leaving them to deal with dodgy lighting and disgruntled clients. 

Well, no more! We are here to put an end to high softbox prices and poor lighting! Today we bring you a complete step-by-step guide to help you make a softbox using a lamp!

The method is easy and extremely affordable, saving you money and giving you access to better lighting. Without further ado, let’s get into it and make your softbox today!

What Is A Softbox?

Before we get into it, let’s have a quick recap for those in the room that need it! A softbox is used to soften the lighting and increase the size of smaller light sources.

Softbox

It works to diffuse harsh and bright lights into softer and more pleasing lights that will enhance your photographs. They can also reduce harsh shadows and are frequently used in amateur and professional photography. 

Unlike other lighting devices, a softbox can control the shape and direction of the light more accurately.

The shape of these boxes can vary, but their makeup is usually the same. A softbox will feature a translucent cloth with a light source (strobe or Speedlight), usually on a light stand. 

The interior and exterior cloth is wrapped around a wire-framed box covered at the front with a diffusion panel. Black exterior cloth prevents the light from spilling out into the studio. 

Now that we have covered what a softbox is and how it’s made up let’s move on to create our own! The following method can be used to home make a softbox without spending a fortune! 

How To Home Make A Softbox

Let’s get straight into it! This method to make your softbox at home is designed to be as cheap as possible. You are likely to have most of these items at home, meaning it could cost you nothing but your time! We will walk you through what you need and how to assemble it, so fear not, you are in safe hands!

However, if you run into any difficulty or prefer some visuals, we suggest searching for video tutorials online! There are plenty of tutorials out there offering fantastic visuals, so be sure to check them instead of struggling! 

To make your softbox at home today, you will need the following items: 

  • A lamp with an LED bulb
  • Two cardboard boxes 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • White garbage bag, or white fabric/tracing paper, any translucent fabric could be used providing its white. 
  • Hot glue gun
  • Clear tape
  • Ruler and pencil
  • x-Acto knife

As we mentioned earlier, you will probably already have these items at home, making them super affordable. You can pick most of them up in craft stores or online for a very affordable price if you don’t!

Once you have the items ready, you can begin your work!

You will have noticed that we suggest LED bulbs. Not only do they tend to last longer, but they also don’t have the heat issues that incandescent light bulbs do.

Again, if you don’t have an LED light bulb to hand, you can pick them up usually in multi-packs at an incredibly low price. 

Use the following steps below to make your softbox at home: 

Prepare Your Box 

For this, we used a cardboard box measuring 18 x 18 x 16 inches and cut it down so that it’s 10 inches high. Cut your box to the appropriate size, or if possible, use a box that is 10 inches high. 

Next, mark the middle of it at the bottom of the box and cut a hole in the middle. Here is where your lamp will be placed, so you will want the hole to be slightly bigger than the lamp.

You can use a measuring tape or a ruler here to help you decide how big the hole should be. Ensure that your LED bulb is securely in your lamp (and that it works) before placing your lamp into the box. 

If you cut the hole too big, don’t panic, we can fill it with hot glue to seal it! It doesn’t need to look too fancy (unless you want it to). 

Make The Reflectors 

Once the box is prepared, we can make the reflectors for the inside of the softbox.

To do this, take the other cardboard box and cut out four trapezoids (a quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides). Be sure to use your ruler here to ensure the size of them is equal.  

Once you have cut out your trapezoids, line them around the lamp in the softbox. 

You will want the smallest sides next to your lamp (so that it looks encased in a square). If you are happy with the lining of the trapezoids, secure them down using clear tape. 

The box should now have the lamp in the middle of the box, with the bulb pointing out of the bottom of the bulb.

How To Home Make A Softbox With A Lamp (Cheap and Easy)

There should be four trapezoids around the bulb, with their smallest sides closest to the box and the largest along the edge of the box. If you aren’t sure, be sure to use tutorials here to check how it should look!

Attach The Foil 

If you are happy with the steps so far, it’s time to turn your attention to the inside of the softbox. You will want to line the inside of the box with aluminum foil. To secure it, fix the foil into place with hot glue.

Again, check out some tutorials here if you aren’t sure. 

If possible, you don’t want any gaps in the foil; this might involve layering foil pieces over each other. As long as this isn’t done a lot, it should be fine. Avoid thick layers of aluminum foil, though; a single layer across the box with some overlapping is best. 

Cover The Box

We are almost done, didn’t we tell you it was easy? Stretch the white garbage bag or other fabric over the box and tape it down to finish your softbox. If you don’t have a garbage bag, you can use white linen or tracing paper to make the light even softer! 

And like that, you can turn the lamp on, and your softbox is complete! If you have it to hand, you could cover the sides of the softbox with black cloth to stop any light spilling out the sides.

It will drive the cost up, but you can easily attach the cloth with glue or tape if you feel it’s needed. 

Final Thoughts 

And just like that, we have reached the end of our softbox journey today! As you can see, building a softbox at home can be done easily and without spending lots of money! Be sure to use the steps above to build your softbox with ease! 

Don’t forget to check out tutorials online if you need more help along the way; there are plenty out there to help make your homemade softbox dreams become a reality!