The Corner Box: for Still Life, Photography, Etc.

I’ve received a few inquiries about just what it is that I am using for a background in the blog photos. It’s a corner box, a terrific and inexpensive little creation I learned about from teaching artist and author Margaret Davidson. I have been using them for setting up still-lifes for drawing, but they also make great backdrops for photographing art toys!

Here is a quick how-to for creating your own corner box.


  • Foamcore sheet
  • Box-cutter knife
  • Cork-backed ruler or T-square (24” is a convenient size)
  • Strong or removable artists’ tape
  • Recommended: a piece of cardboard or a cutting mat under your foamcore to protect your work surface

Diagram for making your corner box

Creating Your Corner Box:

  • Start with a sheet of foamcore, roughly 22 x 28” in size (size is not critical – a larger sheet will yield a larger corner box, a smaller sheet a smaller box)
  • Draw dividing lines in pencil sectioning the sheet into four quarters
  • Using your ruler as a guide for your box knife, cut completely through one quarter and remove that section
  • Cut the remaining quarters about halfway through the foamcore, fold the two side flaps up to form a corner box, and tape the spine (use removable artists’ tape if you’d like to fold your corner box down again for storage)
  • The uneven edge can be trimmed off if you like
  • That leftover quarter piece may be used as a lid to help control the lighting in your corner box, or further divided to make a smaller corner box

Here's your corner box with the "lid" resting on top to screen light

Using Your Corner Box:

  • These are very helpful for reducing visual background noise and controlling the lighting on your subject.
  • They can be lined with colored paper or draped in fabric to change the background from light to dark (or to a particular color) to better view your subject.
  • To keep your subject steady, a small amount of poster putty will tack it in place.
  • Once your subject is in place, tracing the object’s shadows right onto the foamcore (in pencil, so you can erase and reuse) allows you to record your lighting setup should the corner box or your light source shift during use, or if you need to put your setup away between uses.

Still life set up in a corner box


August 10, 2011. Tags: , , , . Art Supplies. Leave a comment.