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Made Light Box and Color Checker

I'm pretty proud to have made my own color checker via Mark Carder's instructional video.  Used some scrap wood from the basement left over from a remodel.  The wood is a little wider than recommended and the eye screw is also larger.  The wood cracked some as I screwed in the eye screw, didn't have the proper drill bit to start a drill hole.  Full of glue but should work just fine.  Used a grocery store potato bag tab for the area where the paint sample will be painted on.  I have also made a light box that can be folded and put away since my "studio" is really small.  It is made from lightweight foam core board.  While experimenting with the light box, it looks like it will work great.  Took two boards to put still life objects on and stained and polyurethaned them to pick up reflections from the still life.  Figured out the lighting for my easel with the still life lit up so as not to put more light in the light box.  Now to find time to paint a still life.  Have a couple in mind and have photographed them as well.  Have only ever used fast-drying alkyd oil paints.  Do have some traditional oil paints that came in an art kit (Royal and Langnickel brand) and will be using the five colors recommended in Mark's video.  

Possible still life.  I put the light more to the side and made some interesting shadows.  Is this a good idea or should I liight it from the top?

 Again lit more from the side without the cast shadows in the background.

Hope to get to this soon.  I still work full time and take care of my disabled husband, hearth and home, a little hobby farm with sheep and chickens and plant a nice vegetable patch every year.  So excited though!!


  • I’ll be interested in seeing how you like the color checker.  I made and use the same one.
    In your first setup the blue bottle is too close to the edge. Compositionally I would put the blue bottle in the middle. And balance to the left and right edge of the frame 

    In the second one I would shift the lantern to the left slightly.  I would slso bring or scatter the matches closer to the front edge.  And maybe a little more space between the matchbox and lantern.
  • Thank you @GTO.  I can't wait to start mixing paint and using that color checker.  I have mentally prepared myself to expect the process to take a good bit of time and probably some frustration along the way after mixing a particular color I'm trying to match and still not quite right after about 30 tries. 

    I really appreciate your thoughts on the still life setups.  Hadn't thought about putting the taller blue bottle in the center.  Do the shadows in the background add some interest to the painting?  I kind of like them.

    After experimenting with still life setups in the light box, I'm wondering if a single item might not be easier to paint as a first try.  May build some confidence for more complex setups later. 

    Have been working with the proportional divider today after staining the canvas.  Used it looking at the still life and not a photograph.  Couldn't believe how great the drawing was coming out using that tool.  Got part way through and realized I had everything too close to the left side of the canvas.  Made me realize it may be a good idea to first measure the entire scene, height and width, and then place that on the canvas first before going in for with the detail.  Hence, maybe a single item still life would be simpler to do right now.

    Thank you very much.  I really do appreciate your advice.  Thanks for stopping by  =)
  • I think the three glass pieces would be a good first painting.
    what I noticed with that color checker is  the angle I held it at affected the value a lot.
    now I don’t look through the eye screw.  Instead I hold it so the flat colored patch is at the same angle as my canvas (parallel to my canvas) and I look directly at that colored patch.  That way the amount of light hitting the patch is the same as that hitting the canvas.

  • Oh my @GTO.  I will have to keep this in mind.  I think i have my lighting figured out for when I paint and will have to see how it goes.  Interesting.  
  • if you rearrange the bottles, get them slightly further from the back drop and don't hide the light in the shadow from the clear bottle.  A pencil, flower stem or something sticking up in one of the jars would be nice or a cap on one of them. I like the lantern and agree with previous comment about placement of lantern and matches. Good luck. You don't have to wear an aluminum foil hat to ward off frustration when mixing colors, a purple ribbon tied around your big toe will work just as well.
  • Thank you @BOB73 for advice on still life placement.  Really apprecite it.  And thanks for the chuckle  =)
  • edited July 15
    I made Mark's colour checker about 4 years ago.  I'm no handyman so it wasn't a very professional looking job but I was amazed at how well it worked.

    Those are nice items for a still life. Love the colours. I agree with @GTO re their placement. 
    I look forward to seeing progress shots. 
    Have fun.  :)
  • @tassieguy Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.  I don't get to paint as often as I'd like (still blessed to be working full time) and know this project will take longer than usual to get a painting done.  Really excited about it though and really looking foward to it.  
  • For those who run into trouble with their screws splitting.  You can:

    Use a clamp or vise to support the sidewalls, so that the screw engraves the wood while it is supported, and does not split when you release it.

    Always wise to do a trial run in a similar scrap of wood.

    If you can find a drill bit that is either tight enough to hold the screw slightly, or just tight enough to align the screw, you can fix it with 5 min epoxy.

    If you know how a taping screw works, you can make one by filing the screw with a notch.  Look online for a picture.  A few strokes with the file will give you a screw that cuts it's way in.  You should use this by advancing and removing the screw so chips do not build up.  Again, use the clamp for support.
  • Thank you @TamDeal.  Wish I had thought of your great tips BEFORE making my color checker.  May have to make another one and will definitely keep all this in mind.  
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