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Lightbox Play – With Barb

Countdown to Christmas DIY home decor general Heidi Swapp Lightbox


Hello everyone!  Welcome to another Scrapbook Nerd Academy with Scrapbook Nerd.

For any of you out there who have seen my Instagram account, or those who know me personally, you know that I am completely addicted to my Heidi Swapp Lightbox!  I love to change it up and leave different messages, or to celebrate a special occasion.  Sometimes, however, what I want to share just isn’t in the premade tiles or strips. Sometimes I just want a pretty background for a message.  On those occasions I head for my computer and print off what I’m looking for.  In this tutorial, I will share just how easy that is.

First, here’s a look at the light box sign I created for this tutorial. I have used the Heidi Swapp original light box, and two of the different Heidi Swapp letter sets.

In order to customize your signs, or to add your own backgrounds or images, you will need inkjet transparencies.  You can find these at any office supply store.

The first thing I do, when looking to add a background image, is head to google images and just start searching for an image related to what I plan on saying on my message. When looking for an image, you want to make sure that the size is large enough. If the image is only 500 pixels x 500 pixels, then it will become very pixelated once you try and make it bigger. An image like this would be fine if you just wanted to print out a small icon, but not for a background.

HINT – in order to see how big the image is, just hover your curser over the image and the dimensions should pop up.  If not, once you save the photo, you can check the size in the image properties. If you’re having problems seeing the size, you should be able to tell if it’s going to look pixelated once you put it into your editing programme and make it larger.)

Once you find your image, save the image, or copy and paste it right into your publishing programme.  When I’m doing my light box sign images, I find it easiest to just copy the image and paste it right into my word programme.

Then I just drag and make my image the size I want.

If you are doing a full-sized background image, like I did on my sign, you will want your image to be no more than 9 inches tall.

Print your photo onto the transparency according to the package instructions. The inkjet transparencies have a coating on the printing side. If you wish to have the smooth side facing out, you will need to mirror your image.  I find that it doesn’t matter when its placed in the lightbox, as you can’t tell, so I print it as it is. However, there are times when I do want the shiny side out, so I will mirror the image.

Once the image is printed you will need to cut the image into three to be able to slide in into the tracks on the lighbox. This is where it can get tricky.

Each track measures about 2 7/8ths high. So, you will need to cut each strip to measure 2 7/8″ high. However, between each track, there is a 1/4″ gap. The photo below shows the side of the lightbox where you can see the gap between each track.

You need to account for the tracks when making your cuts.  If you just cut your image, without taking out the 1/4″ strip between the tracks, your image will look stretched out.  For some images, this won’t matter, but in the case of a photo

To make your cuts:

  1. Make your first cut straight across at the top of your image with your trimmer.
  2. From your first cut measure 2 7/8″ down and cut straight across with your trimmer. That strip should slide right into the top track. It its slightly too big, just trim a little off until it slides in easily.
  3. For the second strip, you will need to cut a 1/4″ off the top of the remaining image piece to account for the 1/4″ track.  (the photo below, which is actually my bottom strip, show me cutting off the 1/4″ to account for the track. without doing this, your image will look stretched out once placed into the lightbox.)
  4. Then you will cut your 2 7/8″ strip for the middle piece. Trim, slightly, if needed, to make it fit.
  5. For the third strip, you will need to cut a 1/4″ off the top of the remaining image piece to account for the 1/4″ track.
  6. Then you will cut your 2 7/8″ strip for the third piece. Trim, slightly, if needed, to make it fit.

Once your image is cut and in place, you can add your message.

Here are some other signs I’ve done by printing my own backgrounds or photos:

This photo, below, would have looked very odd, if I hadn’t taken out the 1/4″ to account for the gap between each track.

This full-sized photo was done in the landscape mode which is smaller than the light box, and so there is a gap at the top, as you can see. I also added text right to the photo as I didn’t want to cover the photo with the letter tiles.

If you don’t have a light box, you need to get one. They are so much fun to play with and there’s so much you can do with them. They are available at Scrapbook Nerd. (they are out of stock right now – but contact us and we will re-order them for you.) We also have many of the accessories that go along with these.

Join us, later this week, for a Facebook Live where we will be demonstrating this, and the new We R Memory Keepers Photo Lights live.  Watch our facebook page for that.

Thanks for checking out the tutorial this week.

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