Need a Portable Light Solution for Miniatures?

Need a Portable Light Solution for Miniature Painting?

You’re traveling to a convention, or you want to work in another room near the family, then you probably need better portable lights. I’ve been asked on several occasions what I use for lights when I want to paint in another room in my home.

For example, I have an office desk setup, but for family reasons I need to move my hobby work to the kitchen dinner table.

What do I do? Well, I’ve had to find different ways to improve my light situation. Whatever it was, the lights had to be easily transported and stowed away when not in use.

WHAT IS A BEST DESKTOP LAMP FOR PAINTING MINIATURES?

For me and the hobbyist, this means the need for a portable daylight system. Because of energy needs, you’re probably looking for an LED solution. Preferably, battery-operated.

Personally, I love LED lamps. LEDs are energy-efficient, sustainable, and last forever.

Best Portable Light for Miniature Painting?

Here’s my take. For scale modeling, miniature hobbies and painting tasks, where you might need to change locations a lot, I’m only going to recommend one.

Not only is the OttLite LED Task Lamp (more details here) highly functional for my needs as a miniature hobbyist, it has lasted years.

Aesthetically, it looks great. For those of you who might need something to display your wares at a meeting or convention, this would fit the bill. It would fit right into a showcase.

Best portable light for painting miniatures
The OttLite LED Task Lamp – it folds down into a compact space and is very bright. The light cast from this LED lamp is color-neutral, perfect for painting miniatures.

There are many kinds of lamps and lights. But, they are not all the same! Some have magnifiers built in. Others fold down compact into small spaces.

I shopped around for a while, but here’s what I needed:

  • Small and portable
  • Battery operated with wired option
  • Bright diffuse color-neutral light
  • LED
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Bonus: Photography

A brief search on Amazon will show you a plethora of options.

What portable light system do I use and recommend?

OttLite LED Task Lamp

The OttLite is essentially a flashlight for miniature painting. Except it can stand on its own, casts a beautiful bright and diffuse light, and packs away with a nice carry handle. Ergonomically, it works in a way that is versatile for the hobbyist or just for having nearby for those unforeseen needs in your home.

Best portable light for painting miniatures
I love how small it is. Come to think of it, this “lamp” is essentially a standing flashlight with an LED panel. It casts a bright, daylight colored light that is extremely useful for painting minis in tight spaces.

Key features that make this ideal for the miniature painting hobby

Small and portable

The OttLite is tiny for how much light output it can produce. Given that you’re painting miniatures or other small parts for a modeling type hobby, the brightness of the light is key.

Small and portable!

Strong powerful lights make every detail easier to see. It also makes it possible to use magnification.

Magnification requires brighter light for minis to show good contrast and detail (see here for the magnifiers I’ve used for working with miniatures).

Do you want a larger, more powerful light? Maybe this executive version will be better for you (more info).

Battery operated bright light (wired optional)

So you want to carry this anywhere in your home or out to a traveling convention. Or maybe, you want to take this on business and paint something in your hotel room.

You’ll probably want your portable lamp to have a battery option.

Sometimes, you may not have an outlet nearby (i.e., a local cafe or hotel room desk). And, there’s a level of super convenience not having to carry tangling wires with you everywhere!

The OttLite uses batteries, but in case you need more power, it can also run off a wired AC power cable. Batteries and the AC cable are not included, but you can easily get them here and here.

I personally just use the lamp with batteries. It’s simply easier for when I need to move around.

Bright diffuse color-neutral light

All the OttLightes have lights that are close to natural sunlight. This is the best kind of light for painting miniatures. Why is this? See my article on best light bulbs for miniature work.

Ever get tired of painting; your eyes get droopy or you find yourself squinting? It’s probably because the quality of your light is hurting you. In general, natural light is easier on the eyes.

True colors from a color-neutral light show much better than standard incandescent or fluorescent light systems. OttLites show true color more effectively than incandescent or fluorescent lighting.

To have good light in a small package is awesome.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes)

As a feature, OttLite LED’s are more efficient than other types of bulbs (lasting up to 40,000 hours – which is more than a human lifetime). LEDs are also generally cool to the touch, meaning that you can use them for much longer periods without discomfort.

Don’t you hate sweating near a hot bright lamp?

LEDs don’t have this issue. Actually, I’m not even sure if it’s worth buying lights nowadays that aren’t LEDs. Maybe, if you like the warmth?

Durable

Here’s where I know there’s a difference. When it comes to portable equipment, I abuse my stuff. I throw it in a bag or suitcase and just go. I can’t be bothered with fragile stuff.

OttLites are built a tad stronger than some of the other portable desk lamp options I’ve looked at. The task lamp folds down with a carry handle and slips nicely into a backpack, or the sleeve of a laptop case. Because it’s battery operated (yeah, there’s a wire option but I don’t use it), you don’t need to worry about accessories.

Pick up and go. Flip open. Turn on the light!

No hassle, paint your stuff anywhere.

Best portable light for painting miniatures
This is my hobby desk from a few years ago. It’s much brighter than this now. But, in either case, when I want to move around, I have to take my good light with me.

Inexpensive

As a portable solution for lights for painting miniatures and other hobby work (i.e., scale modeling), the OttLite Task Lamp is worth it.

I do try to buy my best brushes at art stores.

The lamp varies in cost depending on where you buy it, but generally it’s easier and discounted online (there are several types). I’ve been to local art stores and unless you have a coupon, it’s more expensive that way.

Bonus: Photography

Do you photograph your miniatures?

The best photos require great light. You may even want to take photos in a different locations to record your games. See this article on 5 ways to improve your battle reports.

Do you vlog about your hobby? Maybe you want to record a painting tutorial, but it may require some extra lighting in a small area.

Bam. Portable bright LED lights.

Need a Portable Light Solution for Miniatures?
You can get really creative with photography when your lights aren’t stuck to in one place. Move your lights!

Final Thoughts

I like taking my hobby with me. I like working in the kitchen, as well as the patio. That means lugging paint supplies and tools. It means getting good light where I need it.

Those overhead kitchen lights are great for meal time, but they are horrendous for painting small minis. Convention halls are usually dim, which makes it horrible for all sorts of reasons.

Maybe you’d like to take your modeling hobby on business trips?

A battery operated portable daylight task lamp is perfect for when you might need to go somewhere with your miniature and modeling hobby.


Are you someone who needs extra bright light that you can take anywhere?

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