Tips for even lighting using LED's (my first time).


Sr Member
I am making another custom Star Wars costume and am currently building up a chest box/flight box which will dominate the front chest area of the final costume. The chest box is based loosely off of the X-wing pilot chest boxes.

always eager to further develop my skills, I thought it would be fun to try implementing something that I have never tried before - LED lights.

I have the wiring and construction figured out - that is not where my question lies.

My question is about the actual technique.

On the front of the chestbox I want to have a large light-up display (think targeting computer). I plan to have some sort of semi-transparent/white opaque plastic with the LEDs behind it, giving it a "glow" when switched on. The area is roughly 2 1/2 in. by 6 in, and I want to use a bright orange/yellow for the glow.
In addition to this large center display I also want to have a smaller, similar display off to one side. This one will be green.

This is sort of the look I am going for:


Remember, the colors I will be using are orange and green.

Now this is where I turn to you guys. What are your recommendations for accomplishing this?

What type of plastic/cover material should I be using for this? I was thinking that the plastic screen used to cover florescent kitchen lights might be a good start...but not sure on that one. I would prefer it if the material remained a "white" color when not switched on...but that's not a big deal.

And what should I be doing with the LEDs themselves? Will this work properly if the LED's shine directly under the display or should they be diffused somehow?
My target look is a totally even, spread-out glow. I want to avoid that "lite-brite" look that I've seen on other projects - where you can clearly see that there are just LED's in a row behind the object and you can basically count each bulb through the material. I've noticed this on stuff like Tron costumes and Republic Commando helmets.

Is there a particular type of LED I should be using. I was looking to purchase the basic "bulb" style, but in the process of doing so I was made aware of a wide-angle model too (they called it a "straw hat" style). What should I be looking for in this department?

Please give me all you've got. Like I said, this is my first time working with lighting, so I am definitely thirsty for suggestions.

It should also be noted that I have more than enough room for the components (the chest box is completely hollow at a good 2 in. deep), so running out of space should not be a problem.

Do your worst. Thanks in advance!

P.S. This thread got posted on the fake forum initially. It took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on.


Master Member
Wouldn't it be easier to use an EL sheet? I believe you could just use a white EL sheet and then put orange or yellow gels.


Sr Member
Agree - EL is the way to go but could expensive. I would us 12V LED strip along the walls of the box facing inward. Much cheaper than EL and the power requirements are low. 9V batteries should be fine.

This was done using this technique and I had little more than 1" of depth. I can send you an 18" piece of LED strip for shipping cost if you'd like it. PM me...

Checkout for backlit prints. 90% of my backlit prints came from these guys. Minimum price is $9.99 which covers up to 8x10 (I think).



Sr Member
Shows how much I know - I wasn't even aware this EL sheet stuff existed. I guess most of costume-building experience comes from the early 2000's when LEDs were all the rage.

Checkout for backlit prints. 90% of my backlit prints came from these guys. Minimum price is $9.99 which covers up to 8x10 (I think).


I am taking a look at these guys now. Which material do you think is best? Vinyl?
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