Good quality, diffuse lighting can prevent eye fatigue, a major roadblock to a comfortable long painting session. The best daylight lamps and lighting setup provide proper white balanced light at the right brightness. These kinds of lights will also improve your ability to paint because it will accurately reveal issues of contrast and color.
In this article, I quickly address what I recommend is the ideal desktop light setup painting miniatures.
Summary (TL;DR): Miniature Painting Light Recommendation
Recommended lights for painting accurately have a color temperature that falls within the daylight range (5000 – 6500K or Kelvin) and provides sufficient diffuse illumination to prevent eye strain, e.g., squinting, and hard-shadowing.
When people ask what they can do to improve their painting, my answer, aside from thinning your paints, is: “what kind of lighting do you use? or “what desktop light setup do you need for painting miniatures?”.
The 2 lamps I highly-recommend for painting miniatures are:
These task lamps continue to impress me over time, and provide an affordable way to upgrade your workspace. I’ve suggested other cool looking lamps for those with a home office. But, for their versatility, these are the two lights I’d recommend you start your search.
Great quality swing arm lamp that emits a powerful, yet diffuse light that has lasted me more than 5 years without changing the bulb. The LED’s are white-balanced for proper color reproduction on miniatures. LEDs also do not produce much heat, so you won’t burn up during those long painting sessions in the Summer!
This lamp is also a swing arm lamp and uses an energy efficient LEDs. The LED is rated for more than 20 years continuous use, and will powerfully emit light nearly endlessly (a huge money saver). This lamp also comes with a huge magnifying lens built into it (5-diopter or 300% magnification), so it can serve as a back up visual aid for those finer details or help with assembling kits.
The following would be my lighting choice if I had a bigger budget and could do it all over again:
Swing arm, bright LED full-spectrum daylight emission and additional functionality make this my choice if I had a bigger budget. It has a dimmer (6 levels) and other fine-tuning capabilities to suite painting miniatures or other hobby tasks. The other neat thing about this lamp is that because of its diffuse light and adjustable swing arm (a tad more flexibility and movement than the other two I describe above), it can be used as a video or photography light by itself.
What is the best daylight lamp for painting miniatures?
The best daylight lamp for painting miniatures is one with bright, softly diffused illumination that doesn’t create hotspots (which reduces contrast).
Poor lighting reduces contrast and distorts color on a model as it is painted. A typical desk lamp that uses a regular incandescent bulb is generally a bad choice for painting miniatures. These lamps mostly emit light that is too warm in color and dim. Many high-quality LED powered lighting systems also provide neutral colored light that reproduces many of the qualities of natural sunlight during the day.
Additionally, good quality, diffuse lighting makes a huge difference when taking photographs.
The ability to see colors and contrast accurately is vital to a good paint job. I have one of these lamps for reading or working on regular office tasks at home, but I don’t use it for painting miniatures.
For miniature painting, for long stretches, I highly recommend getting a lamp that uses a full spectrum daylight bulb or LED (close to 5000K color temperature). These lamps mimic natural sunlight for painting, providing the best source of illumination for small details and help prevent the fatigue with looking at these small objects. If you’re looking for a portable light for painting miniatures, check out the Ottlite task lamp.
Highly-recommended lighting setups for miniature painting!
The best light for painting miniatures is good quality, diffuse light in the daylight color temperature range. Good quality, diffuse lighting can prevent eye discomfort and will keep your enjoyment of the hobby from turning into a chore.
For other suggestions for best lights and lamps for miniatures, take a look at these magnifying lamps for painting miniatures and models.
For anyone hesitant in getting better lighting, just count the number of hours you spend painting miniatures or assembling kits…. why do it in the dark?