02. How to Make a Scrim

A scrim is used by photographers to reduce intensity and/or harshness of light.

In this class you’ll see how to make them yourself.  A Scrim is something that Karl uses a lot in his work especially in shoots like the ones shown in this Advertising, Product and Still life course. Learn what affordable equipment you need to make your own and exactly how Karl does it.


  1. Hi Karl, is there any fabric that can be used instead of the diffusion material used in the video and still produce good results ?

  2. I just want to make very small ones to test first, as I only have speedlights for now. What gsm would you recommend for basic tracing paper?

    1. Hi Tod, tracing paper will work and the GSM doesn’t matter as you can double the paper. If you are not sure just take a torch and shine it through some first to see how well it diffuses.

  3. Hey Karl my studio is kinda small 2.3 is so big do u think 120*120 is good for most situations or no ..i just get savage medium wight and i was about to make the frame but when i see your video i got confused about the size

    1. Hi I’d try and go for longer in one direction. Personally I’d want the 150cm wide paper so at least 150 x 150.

  4. Hey Karl,

    Am only curious, is there a way to make a bigger scrim to light a side of car for example?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Amr, sometimes very large sheets of fabric are used but this would not be my preferred option for car photography, which would be to use a huge solid white floating panel above the car that you then shine your lights up into and that reflects back down on the car.

  5. This is very helpful, thank you!
    Do you also show how your (gray and white) “studio blocks” are build? (The ones you use for laying perspex on, standing a model on it etc.)

    Thank you for your help!

  6. Hey Karl,

    Have you found there is a smallest functional size of a scrim? I presume it’s relative to product size and desired effect, but curious if you’ve found anything you’ve made that’s just collecting dust. Is bigger always better? I still shoot a fair bit of tabletop work in a garage studio space and often work solo, so looking to eek out any space/mounting advantages I can.

    I also noticed you’ve mounted handles on some of yours. I’ve been looking for something with a pin sticking out so I can mount in a grip head and rotate easily, but haven’t found anything. Have you looked for such a beast?

    Any thoughts appreciated.



    1. Hi Jim, your comment about relative to product size is correct but it is also relative to product shape, the more curved a glossy product then the bigger and closer the scrim will need to be. You don’t need the handles I just use the wooden frames now and clip them into my grips.

  7. Hi there
    In the list on the right
    I guess we should read 2.3m instead of 1.3m…

    Thank you for your amazing job

  8. Hi Karl. I live in France.
    It’s necessary to have the both sides ?
    And what’s the difference for you between 1 side or 2 side for the diffusion ?
    Kind regards

    1. This is back when Karl used to use tracing paper, and to get the best graduation one side would be too thin, now Karl only ever uses one side but instead of using tracing paper he uses LEE 216 diffusion material, it gives a much better graduation and is a lot safer as tracing paper is a real fire hazard when using so close to bare bulb lights

  9. Hi Karl, Thank you so much for your very helpful advice and the associated product referral. I really appreciate it. Hope you had a lovely weekend, Brian

  10. Hi Karl, I hope you are keeping well.

    If you don’t have the room to store a large homemade scrim, would a collapsible commercial scrim, such as the Lastolite Skylite or the California Sunbounce Pro 4×6 (with a diffusion panel), deliver a level of graduated light that meets the required standards for commercial photography? If not, I understand Lee produces a roll of the 216 diffusion material, which is 1.22m (4ft) wide. I could easily tape/clip that to my Sunbounce frame, as it features the same width dimension.

    Thanks in advance for your advice. I found the video very helpful and am loving the new education platform. Keep up the good work. All the best, Brian

    1. Hi Brian, the collapsible scrims don’t graduate the light properly for product photography due to the material that they are made from. They are OK for simple diffusion but thats about it. I now use Lee 216 or the thick Lee lux 400 on the roll and tape to a wooden frame but I also use it on the roll just hanging from a C-stand as you will see in some of my other tutorials. The rolls are also available in 1.5m wide by 7m long which give you a bigger area which is better. We sell the rolls and as a member you get 15% off these prices, they are listed on our old site at the moment here https://www.karltaylorphotography.com/lighting-diffusion-rolls.htm if you want to order from us just contact us by email and we can arrange this for you. Cheers Karl.

      1. Hi Karl,

        are the rolls (Lee 216) you’re referring too material or paper?

        On the old site where I was a member it refers to material and on the video its paper?


        1. Hi Richie they are a type of paper, similar to tracing paper that architects used to use. But they are a bit tougher and more fire resistant and also designed to diffuse the light better. They are not a fabric.

          1. Hi Karl,

            Do you prefer the 3/4 stop reduction or 1 1/2 stop reduction with the Lee 216?


          2. Hi Jonathan, I’m sorry to say that I have no idea or do I really think it matters! I can check the rolls that we use if you like but I use exactly the same ones that we sell in our shop.

  11. Hello Karl,
    What’s the advantage of having your scrim double sided and how many stop do they “cost” you ?
    Thanks and regards,

    1. Hi Lionel, There was an advantage when using tracing paper as it gave better diffusion, however now I use Lee diffusion rolls 216 and these give much better diffusion so you only need one sheet.

      1. Have you tried Lee 129 Karl? I much prefer it to 216 but never really see it in studios for some reason. It kills an extra 2/3rd stop but it gives much more diffusion and best of all is a little thicker than 216

          1. Hi Karl,
            as you have both: besides the 30 cm less width of Lee 400, is there a difference to the Lee 216?
            Thank you!

          2. Hi Jens, the first one you mentioned gives a slightly stronger diffusion but I get by with the other one nearly all of the time.

Leave a Comment