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Hi! I want opinions about my super small improvised studio.

Hello, guys.

I need some advice because I want to use a shadow box in the next works and I would like your opinion. I live in a house with small rooms, the only comfortable places to work are the dining room and the covered terrace, but since I don't live alone I don't want to disturb others and need to move my materials daily, and on the terrace the strong light, heat and dust won't let me work. I decided to use the small office / room in the house, I can stay there day and night without being disturbed. The images below show him.

The house is very old and a high wall was built behind it, so no light comes in through that window. I decided that the shadow box will be on the bed (I will not dismantle it because I would have nowhere to put the parts and I like to throw myself between breaks from work ;) ), so I will use a pipe structure in it and another to compose the support structure. This is how it will look.

It will have a black plate at the bottom, and cover with black fabric. Images below show the layout I am thinking of using.

Definitely very tight, but I think it can work. Images below show the black fabric that I will attach to the desk and closet, and the lights that I will use: four behind me, all with 7w, 5000k and 590 lumens (CRI 81, they are not the best but for now they will do). Total: 28w and 2360 lumens.

I'll test an extra one on the fan, when I see if it's necessary or not. In the shadow box I will put one more of 7w, and if it is not enough I will use two. The image below shows that the desk lamps are about 1.20 meters from the pallet and 1.30 meters from the easel, and those in the closet are about 1.20 meters.

The distances will be adjusted according to the brightness balance.

What is your opinion? Will the distance to the box be too short, or will it do? Are the lights arranged correctly? I will try to keep them as close as possible to 35 degrees on the easel.


  • You want to be four feet maybe four and a half feet from the shadow box.  You also want your easel to be vertical. Do not lean it back at all.  

  • Looks like quite the challenge.  Looks tight in there! 

    My only comment for the lighting arrangement is that the bulbs need to be high enough so your head doesn't cast a shadow on the bottom portion of your canvas!

    Good luck!


    Looks like you have the best arrangement with existing resources.

    Give some thought to ventilation. Use window and door to ensure flow through.

    The light is very weak producing 120 to 180 lumens at the work surfaces.
    Architects recommend 1000 for detailed and sustained colour discrimination.
    Put 15,000 lumens in to get about 900 on the canvas.

  • edited October 2020
    Thank you, @GTO . In the drawing my eyes are about 2.20 meters from the box. I can change this distance easily by moving the base. And the easel of the drawing is representative, mine is almost entirely vertical. In the future, I intend to acquire a bigger and better one.

    Thank you, @CBG. Yes, I'll be careful with that.

    Thank you, @dencal. I consulted the image below that I picked up here on the forum and saw that you are right. So, in addition to purchasing more lamps, I'm thinking of bringing them closer to the screen. I read some posts by @PaulB, he said he works with his LED lamps on his shoulders, I'm thinking this might be a good strategy. It seems to be simpler, I just hope I don't have problems with brightness.

    I found several better options in watts and lumens in the tubular fluorescent category. Is the LED a better option?

    In fact, do you think the shadow box will look good with 7w, or should I provide more for it? And a simple question: as I have never worked with so many lights so close, does heat become a problem?

  • Nei_P_J

    Yes LED is bright, cool, efficient and long lasting, but more expensive.

    T8 housing LED strips are the way to go. Three 5000 lumen units. 

    Arlec make DIY plug in units for about $90au, though I bought mine at a half price sale.

  • Thank you, @dencal. I will look for LED options in online stores. 

    An additional question: in the simulation drawing, my palette will receive less light than the canvas. I know I should equalize the brightness of my color checker with the shadow box, but is it not desirable for my palette to have a similar brightness? Should I put an extra light on it?
  • Nei_P_J

    Yes. Equalise light on canvas and palette. Easier to move palette, an extra light will create problems.

  • i think it will be better if you place your easel where the palette table is, if possible. so that you dont need to turn your head every time to see the setup and your canvas while painting
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