What sort of lighting setup do I need for 2-D stop motion?

I don't have a lot of space, so the canvas area won't be huge. I will probably use 11" x 14" heavy 11" x 14" matte paper. All the animation will consist of cutouts and be flat (not sure if this was obvious).

I'm thinking of using 2 cheap clamp lamps from Home Depot, and positioning them at the ends of long side of the paper. Not sure if I should diffuse or not.

Then I'll put my camera above the light source, to avoid getting my camera's shadow in the snapshots.


1 Answer 1


Well, the only one who can determine the setup is you.

This is becouse you don't need a technical issue like eliminationg shadows while reproducing a painting.

You probably need:

  • the texture of the paper to be noticable, or not.

  • the wrincles of the cutout paper, or not.

  • some shadows to make emphasis that is not computer generated, or not.

  • a light that simulates a real light on your scene. Imagine that you are making a shoot in the woods. Probably make a cutout for shadows simulationg a forest, or not.

At the end. Make some shoots and make choices.

Just some technical notes.

  • Let the lamps to warm up for some minutes before making the shoots.

  • Define a white point.

  • Finish a scene. Make a new one in a diferent day.

  • Use manual control on the camera.

  • Use markers for the camera position and light positions (and angles)

  • \$\begingroup\$ A VERY important point it to use lighting which has a wide gamut output. Some lamps (eg cheap ccfl) have a very odd output and are missing a lot of wavelength - It may not be obvious to the eye, but the shots can look very flat. I learned this while trying to photograph oil and watercolour paintings to print for a customer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2015 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. You need to balance things like this wavelength and the temperature it generates for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow thanks a lot for the in depth response Rafael. Would you have any suggestions on a inexpensive light that simulates real light? I'm thinking 2 swing arm lamps with 2 60W Equivalent Daylight (5000K) light bulbs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jose B
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 1:57

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