The 9 Best Tracing Light Pads

Updated June 16, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

9 Best Tracing Light Pads
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Whether you are an animator, a graphic artist or simply enjoy the art of drawing, one of these tracing light pads will let you create accurate and beautiful reproductions of just about any image. They provide ample illumination for seeing through most materials, and can also serve double duty as portable X-ray, photo negative, and slide viewers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tracing light pad on Amazon.

9. Dbmier LED A3

The Dbmier LED A3 is a favorite among photographers who want to examine their illuminated negatives. Its frame won't flex at all during use, so your work will stay steady, and it's a good choice for tracing quilt block shapes.
  • made with japanese acrylic panels
  • includes 10 translucent sheets
  • plexiglass material scratches easily
Brand Dbmier
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. TikTeck A4

The TikTeck A4 is a great choice for those who tend to work on letter-sized paper. Unlike many models, its drawing surface extends to three of its edges with no wraparound bezel, so it provides more working area with less bulk.
  • less than 5 millimeters thick
  • weighs just over one pound
  • some units have a checkered effect
Brand Tikteck
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. AGPtek Artcraft

The 17-inch AGPtek Artcraft comes with a power supply that can be plugged into a regular wall outlet or a USB port for mobile use. Its on/off button is positioned at a convenient distance from the drawing surface so you won't accidentally shut it off while you use it.
  • blue power indicator light
  • has metric ruled edges
  • illumination may occasionally ripple
Brand AGPtek
Model HL0163-1-1
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. US Art Supply LM-303

The US Art Supply LM-303 has flicker-free LEDs that are comfortable on the eyes, so as not to cause strain during long drawing sessions, and are rated to last up to 50,000 hours. It comes with a one-year unconditional warranty, and is easy to wipe clean.
  • sturdily constructed
  • includes two ruled templates
  • easy to accidentally turn off
Brand US Art Supply
Model LM-303
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Co-Z Ultra-Thin 19"

The Co-Z Ultra-Thin 19" has measurements built into its borders so you can easily keep track of the scale of your projects. It works well in bright areas, so it's ideal for outdoor art classes or working in a park, as long as you have a portable power supply.
  • just 8 millimeters thick
  • three brightness settings
  • can't be usb-powered
Brand CO-Z
Model A1-0023
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Huion L4S

The Huion L4S remembers the level of brightness you had it on during your last session and returns to that setting when you power it back up. It has an elegant acrylic surface that makes it look and feel like a glass panel without the added weight.
  • nonslip rubber feet
  • gradual dimming control
  • included usb cord is a bit short
Brand Huion
Model L4S
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Litup Wireless LPB3

The Litup Wireless LPB3 is among the brightest options in its field, with the ability to shine through several layers of paper, highlighting the contrast in your drawings. A simple touch-sensitive switch controls its dimmer.
  • choose from usb or battery power
  • produces minimal heat
  • convenient 6-foot-long power cord
Brand Litup
Model Litup LPB3
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Crayola Light Up 04-0907

The Crayola Light Up 04-0907 is a very slim and lightweight option that makes a great gift for aspiring young artists. It comes with 100 images to help build up your tracing skills, which can then be customized with color and shading to create unique works of art.
  • includes 12 colored pencils
  • paper locks into frame
  • great value for the price
Brand Crayola
Model 04-0907
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Artograph 225

The Artograph 225 comes in four different sizes to suit your drawing needs. It's super durable, with reinforced steel corners and an attractive aluminum frame, and has rounded edges that make it comfortable to use in your lap.
  • material won't scratch easily
  • includes a protective sleeve
  • even illumination across its surface
Brand Artograph
Model 225-930
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Light Pads: Child's Toy, Artist's Tool, Doctor's Diagnostic Aid

The concept of the light pad couldn't be more elegantly simple: a light pad consists of a flat, translucent plane below which light is shined. Light pads allow designs, writing, or other content printed on one sheet of paper to be visible through one or many other sheets, making it easy for the user to transfer the original design via tracing. Light pads also make it easier to view photographic negatives, and may even make it easier to see the fine patterns or internal structures of items ranging from leaves to fabrics to scientific slides.

A light pad therefore, simple in design though it may be, has many potential applications and these range from the purely recreational to the educational to the artistic to design to diagnostics. As a toy, a light pad can help child or adult alike create drawings and patterns copied from almost any flat document. A light pad can serve to assist youngsters just learning to write the letters of the alphabet, but it can also help an adult practice the writing of a foreign language: imagine the ease of learning Arabic's flowing script or the intricate characters of Japanese by tracing instead of copying. So too can light pads help hone the hand of the budding calligrapher or graphic designer. Light pads not only make practicing writing or drawing more productive, but they make it more satisfying and rewarding, too.

The aspiring artist, linguist, or design professional interested in using a light pad is in luck: many light pads cost only around twenty dollars. And even the most expensive options, those with adjustable light settings and which are made from the most durable materials, rarely cost more than $100. When selecting a light pad, make sure to consider the size which will best suit your needs. If you'll only be using standard 11" by 8" paper, it will be easy to find a great light pad that's quite affordable. But know that much larger light pads, even units measuring up to 17" in width, are readily available, and these may be necessary for viewing larger documents such as x-ray slides or various schematic documents or pieces of artwork.

Also consider durability as a factor: many of the lower cost light pads are more than suitable for use by adults, but one might consider spending a bit extra on a stronger, more resilient light pad if it will be used in a classroom or by younger children. It is cheaper to buy one sturdy light pad once than a more easily damaged light pad twice or more.

The Light Pad In The Hands Of The Artist

A light pad is an artist's secret weapon. These handy tools can serve artists at all levels of skill and experience, for example helping the transfer of a sketch from the master painter's field notebook to a canvas prior to commencement of a new work. They can also help the budding cartoonist copy his or favorite panels to practice a character's expressions.

And unlike traditional tracing paper, the added illumination of a light pad lets the artist work using most standard papers, canvases, or other related media. A bold design will be clearly visible through several sheets of paper, in fact, allowing an artist to overlay a few different layers of image to create a composite design they can copy onto the top sheet of paper. This can be a great asset to the graphic designer trying to create a logo, and it can help the cartoonist trying to replicate a character in many different panels of their work.

While light pads work best when the artist is copying a monochromatic work, many colors will be visible through a single sheet of paper, so they can be used even with colorful original works such as paintings or photos. Just note that if the original media is too thick, many of the details will be lost when viewed through the layer of paper atop it.

For the youngster looking to refine his or her hand, the light pad helps to develop the fine motor control and muscle memory needed for successful artistic creation. Far from suppressing the creative mind by encouraging copying instead of original production, a light pad helps to train the hand and eyes that will then be able to create images seen only in the imagination without the limitation of unrefined ability. Any parent or art teacher wanting to support the young visual artist should of course encourage individual, non-directed artistic creation, but should also enlist the help of a light pad to assist the establishment of good mechanics.

The Light Pad Beyond The Arts

Beyond the arts, a light pad can be used to view media such as x-rays or photographic negatives, and they can help illuminate slides to be studied by magnifying glass, microscope, or simply by the naked eye.

Many light pads are lightweight enough to be brought into the field, and some units are even powered by USB connection, making their use in forensic work not just feasible, but practical.

A light pad can help an architect plan a multiple-level home or building by enabling him or her to view multiple floor plans at once and it can help an industrial designer plan the inner workings of a complex machine. In short, whenever there is need to see beyond the surface of a single document or other type of media, shining light through can be illuminating indeed.

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Last updated on June 16, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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