What desktop light setup do you need for painting miniatures?
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 (more below).
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?”
The 2 lamps I currently use for painting miniatures and highly-recommend are:
- Phive LED Task Lamp, 15 Watt Super Bright Desk Lamp with Clamp, Dimmable Gooseneck Monitor Lamp (4 Color Modes, 5-Level Dimmer, Memory Function, Highly Adjustable Office Light/Workbench Lamp) ($75) – 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!
- Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Lamp ($55) – 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:
- Phive Architect Lamp/LED Task Lamp with Clamp – 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.
Good quality, diffuse lighting makes a huge difference when taking photographs
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.
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. 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.
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?