Tutorial: DIY Flash Diffuser Made From Paint Sample Cards

In these times of austerity, we’re constantly encouraged to recycle, mend and make do. But when it comes to DIY hacks, we believe that although form follows function, we shouldn’t have to compromise on cool. So we set ourselves a challenge to create a simple DIY flash diffuser with a little bit of style.

Perhaps you don’t care if you wander around with a half chewed polystyrene cup jammed on the top of your camera but if you’re constantly hounded by the paparazzi or have neighbors to impress, the following tutorial may prompt you to consider how you can make your own hacks a fraction more awesome. A flash diffuser is designed to scatter or bounce light from the camera’s flash so that it’s much softer. Ideally, the inside of a flash diffuser should be white so that it reflects the light, but the outside can be any color of the rainbow. This opens up a world of opportunities.

Making Your Flash Diffuser

1. Arrange your tools. We’re using paint sample cards from our local DIY store to make our flash diffuser but the world is your oyster. You could make yours from an vintage Penguin book cover, a record sleeve, wallpaper samples or the cover of an old sketchbook, just to name a few examples.

2. We’re making our diffuser for a camera with a built in flash but this tutorial can be adapted to work with an external flash. Measure the width and length of your flash. In this case, two sample color cards will be used to cover the width, and two for the length of the flash.

3. Mark two cards on the inside with your width measurements. The measurement should be in the middle of the card, leaving some space on each edge (these edges will join together). Repeat with the length measurements on the other two cards.

4. Join up the marks so all cards have two long lines running their length. Lightly score the lines on all cards, and fold the flaps once.

5. Take your glue stick and paste the flaps together to form a box. The flaps fold inwards and act as teeth to help grip the flash. Check your box fits snugly on your flash and adjust by trimming cards if needed. It’s better to ensure you have a snug fit at this point, rather than wait until you’re done to discover the diffuser doesn’t fit perfectly.

7. Cut two pieces of paper, one the length and one the width of your diffuser box. Add a centimeter to both measurements. Glue the extra centimeter of paper, and neatly paste the paper back so the paper covers the top of the box. This creates two ‘lids’ and acts to diffuse the directed flash.

8. Fit the diffuser to your flash by lightly pushing it down. And you’re done!

As you can see, making a flash diffuser is fairly quick and easy. Once you’ve mastered the basics, there’s no end to the amount of adaptations and alterations you can make to create your own unique piece of DIY kit. If this has inspired you to try making your own, we’d love to see the results. And if you have any ideas on materials you could use to make a flash diffuser that not only functions well, but also looks pretty cool, we’d love to hear about these in the comments below.