Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)

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:

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
  • 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. 
Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)

RELATED: “WEARABLE” MAGNIFYING VISORS FOR PAINTING MINIATURES

Best Light for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
Painting miniatures with good light is important!

The following would be my lighting choice if I had a bigger budget and could do it all over again:

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
Phive Architect Lamp/LED Task Lamp
  • Phive Architect Lamp/LED Task Lamp with ClampSwing 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. 
Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
The best light for painting miniatures is the one that doesn’t give you eye strain and illuminates color accurately.

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.

RELATED: BEST 13 DESK LAMPS FOR PAINTING MINIATURES AND MODELS

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.

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
A regular bulb is bad for painting
Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
Regular desk lamp with incandescent bulb (yuck). Hard shadows and uneven light that adds unwanted, extra warm color to your 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.

If you’re looking for a portable light for painting miniatures, check out the Ottlite task lamp.

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)

Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Lamp

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)

Amico 11W LED Architect Desk Lamp

Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)
Good lighting setups help with color blending, because tone and value aren’t washed out or lost.

Final Thoughts

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?

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3 thoughts on “Lights for Painting Miniatures (Tips and Recommendation)”

  1. Nice job on the painting. For several years I was building 1/87 – HO scale buildings and vehicles, I loved the building and weathering. I never had a train, but I really enjoyed making little dioramas.

  2. Pingback: 7 Great Ultrasonic Cleaners for Airbrushes - Tangible Day

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