Lightbox Backdrops

Lightbox backdrop prototype

 I've had several queries about my Lightbox backdrop and figure display stand, so I thought I'd do a bit of a write up and show the "behind the scenes" of it all.

Origin Story

So a while back I laser cut some buildings for my 54mm Imaginations woodens based upon some designs that my pal and erstwhile partner in crime Jaye Wiley designed. They all fit together to make a hollow "town" as a terrain piece. Looked like this.
Town in use, with entry gate. Invading army sold separately.

Erm, I never quite got them finished in time for the battle...

These worked like a charm,telling both the story needed and, being hollow, a way to hold the troops who captured the town.  During packing up after the game I dropped it and, as I only had it lightly glued together ( it was still a WIP painting wise...) it came apart. No biggie, I was going to take it apart anyways.  I packed them away until the next battle.

Ideation Time

 On the drive back from the convention, I had a thought. These sections reminded me of stage flats.I need to take some pictures of troops, wonder what they would look like as a background? 
Basic building cut outs, with a stain and some grey on the stacks
So, I laser cut a base of cobble stones using crafting foam and glued it onto a piece of 3mm ply. this piece had slots for me to glue some triangle supports to hold the backdrop of buildings up.  The size of the backdrop is made to fit in my small lightbox that I bought off of ebay for $20.

Back view, kinda cobbled together.
Once I had it all in place, I started painting the stage front, taking a few pictures along the way. The flat was... too flat, so I added some depth to it by layering frontages, window frames, barrels and a sidewalk.

Early stages shot with little layering and WIP paint

side view showing"layering"
While doing this I experimented with various window treatments, from just etched lines to etched in windows to fully cut out. The best technique turned out the be etched lines, which is actually the easiest.  Once finished I just pop it back in my light box, with the sky backdrop showing through.  

Cobblestone street is 2mm hobby foam. I like the texture and it paints up well

This shot has an extra side building as a test.

What Next?

Like I said, I've had a lot of questions on how I built this, and a few folks wanting to commission me for one (I'm booked solid till next year).  My next steps are to design a backdrop that assembles easy with slots, possibly easy to take apart for travel and storage. I've also been drawing up some new building types, as well as a "scary woods" and a dungeon backdrop.  All fun stuff! 

Depending on how things go, I might just present this as a small Kickstarter mid next year.  If you have any basic terrain skills of your own, this kind of thing could easily be made out of foam core and balsa.

I'd love to hear feedback from you. What size would be good for you? What style(s)?



  1. I have basic terrain skills and those parts. I'm on it.

    1. Baron- yes, yes you should! You want me to send you the cobblestones?

    2. You know I love free stuff!

  2. I think this is really cool, and would certainly like to see other styles, but could make my own.

    Other styles that people may be interested in: Necromunda type, Anime cyber world (infinity), 40k-esque ruins. Multi level ones might be interesting too, like the aforementioned Necromunda, and the dungeon. Basically instead of being just flat, you make them have base wide shelves that fit miniatures.

  3. Ah, yes, I did not even think of a sci fi type piece, that makes sense. I should probably just do a magazine article on making them from foam board. Although they would not at all be as sturdy.

  4. Model railroaders have been making "flats" for years to disguise the edges of their train sets. ;-)

    1. David- you are quite right! It is a wonderful way to create space, and as you say, disguise edges. I only wish they build stuff in my scale so I could be more lazy :)


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