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Light Sources & Projection Surfaces

For shadow puppetry, the shadows depend very much on what light source you use.  Is it bright?  It is colored?  Does it move?  Is it blurry or clear?  See some ideas and suggestions below to make sure you know the basics - then, experiment and discover!

DESK LAMP                                 CLIP LIGHT                                   STANDING LAMP

Any lamp will do.  Lamps with movable heads work best.  Make sure there is nothing in between the light and the shadow puppet or screen - take off lampshades if they are removable.  Kids, make sure to get an adults help when working with electricity.

Lamp Choices

Light Bulbs

FROSTED BULB                           CLEAR BULB

The clarity of the shadow made by the shadow puppet depends on the light bulb you use and the projection surface you choose.  

If you have a frosted bulb (your bulb is frosted if you cannot see inside the light bulb) - the shadow will appear fuzzy when your shadow puppet is not directly touching the shadow puppet screen.  For frosted bulbs, it is best to use paper screens or a tightly stretched fabric screen.  

For clear bulbs (your bulb is clear if you can see the filament inside), the shadow will appear more clearly, allowing you to step back from your projection surface and play with size and scale of your shadows.  

Performance Set Up


In this scenario, remember, the shadow puppets must be directly up agains the projection surface/screen in order to be clearly seen.  Here, the shadow puppeteer on the left, has a light bulb above her head and the projection surface directly in front of her. This prevents her from blocking the light with her body while performing.


In this scenario, remember, the shadow puppets can be further away from the projection surface/screen.  Here, the shadow puppeteer on the left is kneeling down to avoid blocking the light with her body.  

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