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What Daylight Bulb Should I Buy for Miniature Painting?

Okay, so you have a lamp….but you’re still not sure if you have good light. Yes, it’s bright, but do you feel you might need an upgrade. Do your hour-long efforts to blend colors seem to be a tad too warm (yellow-orangey) or cool (blue-greenish)? If so, chances are your bulbs aren’t meant for your needs.

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Lit with a regular incandescent bulb (too warm for painting)

My best and only recommendation for a daylight bulb for screw-in socket lamps:

Compared to a standard incandescent bulb ($3-5 per bulb), LED Daylight bulbs are certainly more expensive by almost double. But, they last longer (years!), provide better quality light, and use less energy. Another thing to note for some of you, is that these LED bulbs produce very little heat. There is less drying out of paint, allowing you to work longer on a blend or glaze. One of the struggles I had in the past was the unpredictable nature of paint behavior on a model. Using an LED bulb takes a huge variable out of the equation and gives me more control.

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Even if you have a cheap desk lamp or a professional swing-arm lamp (see here for my recommendation), you will need good quality daylight that keeps all the light on your miniature work bright and color-temperature neutral. You want a bulb that emits a color-temperature right smack in the middle of the visible spectrum of 5000K (“K” is for Kelvin, a measure of color temperature).

Now, if I had a bigger budget for lighting my setup, I’d probably go with one of these Rotolights, because I could also use it for my miniature photography studio.

  • Rotolight NEO LED Light ($230) – This is an LED light source that is super bright, even brighter when put into flashing-strobe mode, and allows you to change the color temperature (!). Overkill for painting miniatures, but let us dream.

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