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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-20-11, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Default Model Workshop present A Guide to Lighting


Is proud to present, a guide to lighting

There are many different types of lights that a painter can use. From your typical lamp to exotic lamps designed for painting in mind. In this tutorial I will go over several common types of painting lights, what is good versus bad on some of the lamps. Being the penny pincher that I am, I will also cover how to get the most for less.

Incandescent Bulb


First I will be covering the standard light bulb. These are normally known as Incandescent light bulbs and are the lights that we all have grown up with over the years. The issue with a standard light bulb is the light they cast has a yellowish tint to it that can greatly affect the color variations of your painting.

Without getting into secialized painting lights there is a solution. Look for products marketed at Day Light bulbs. The most well known, and somewhat pricey of these is the GE Reveal bulb, they have a blue hue to them, which is what makes them stand out the most. The best part about these bulbs is they are available at most local stores. See below what makes these bulbs special and gives them their blue color.


GE Reveal bulbs make colors "pop" in a way they don't with standard incandescent bulbs.
Why? The rare earth element neodymium that's in the glass.(It's what gives these bulbs their distinctive blue color when unlit.) When these bulbs are lit, the neodymium provides a pure, clean light by filtering out much of the dulling yellow cast common from ordinary light bulbs.


Compact Fluorescent Light


Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb otherwise known as the CFL is a newer styled bulb based on the Fluorescent tube bulbs that we have been using for years. In a nut shell, the tubes have been shrunk and made into a more user friendly shape. Your typical CFL is brighter, warmer, and uses less power. There is some controversy due to the chemicals they contain.

As you can see on the chart to the right are three bulbs of comparable wattage (13w CFL is equivalent of a 60w Incandescent) even the low end CFL puts out a purer color then the Incandescent (see below about color temperature and how it effects your painting).

The upside to a CFL is they last much longer then a typical lightbulb and use much less electricity then a standard bulb as well. They are also normally brighter and have a better light temperature.

The downside is they do contain higher amounts of elements that are bad for you and they do cost more. They also have a warm up period and they tube warms up and is able to put out its full amount of light. There are hybrid bulbs out there that mix halogen and CFL to minimize the impact but for our purpose the cost is not justified.


The CFL also comes in a variety of shapes to easily allow it to fit into almost any type of light fixture as well. You can also get them with the typical ending or the smaller end normally used in vanity or chandelier lighting. The straight CFL is normally brighter when compared to a spiral shaped.

Color Temperature and Lumen


Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light that has important applications in lighting, photography, videography, publishing, manufacturing, astrophysics, and other fields. The color temperature of a light source is the temperatureof an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of comparable hue to that of the light source. Color temperature is conventionally stated in the unit of absolute temperature, the kelvin, having the unit symbol K.
Color temperatures over 5,000K are called cool colors (blueish white), while lower color temperatures (2,7003,000 K) are called warm colors (yellowish white through red).
As modelers we need to look for a bulb that is as close to 3,200k (white) as we can. If a bulb with a higher or lower K value is used, the use of a filter might become needed.
Painting in a light with a bad K value can effect a model by causing you to use the wrong hues to get the effect that you want. If you are using a low K value and painting blue you will over paint the color to try to fight the fact that the light going on the model is red. When you put the model under white light you will then see the mis-coloring. This is how models end up looking purple or orange when you take them from home to your FLGS.

Lumen is how bright a light is. Higher the number is for Lumen brighter the light that the bulb gives off. Remember that you do not want your light too bright because it can cause eye strain and colors to wash out.



Items to buy:

Well here we are to the part where you are going to put down some of your hard earned money down and pick up a light. I highly recommend going with a daylight bulb or a bulb that is rated at 3100-3300 K so you get the purest color (or lack there of) from the light. The best light that I can suggest in the low end price range is a GE Reveal. For years this was my light of choice because while expensive compared to a normal bulb they are cheap compares to the special lamps out there for painting. The best part about it is you can get yourself an inexpensive desk lamp and put a reveal bulb in it so overall your investment will only be about 15 dollars. One of the best parts about using a bulb like this is you can a large variety of lamps you can put them in so you can individualize to your needs. My lamp has an spinning office styled base that I keep my commonly used tools in.


Reveal 100w 4pk
$9.70 per 4
Color: True
1352LM -1000 hours


Reveal 100w Eqv
$6.77 ea
Color: True
1570LM - 8000 hours


Full Spectrum/Daylight Bulbs

In this section we will be covering Full Spectrum/Daylight bulbs. These bulbs are designed to simulate daylight and give off the best color of the bulbs on the market. While there are many different types of light out there, the main one for our hobby is the OttLite. Its name is recognized by hobbyist all over the world, Ott brand is used is model judging for the Golden Deamon. I will be covering Ott brand lights after this but if you want to look around, there are several different companies that offer lights as well. You can also look up sunlight therapy as that uses daylight bulbs as well. These types of lights are going to show colors the truest, even better then reveal bulbs allowing you to see truly what your model is going to look like. I also find that painting with daylight bulbs help with the eye strain.

Types of Lamps

Now that we have had a chance to look at the different types of bulbs now we will look at the different types of lamps that are available on the market. I will be using OttLite Lamps as examples but you can find most of their lamp styles also made by other companies. We will be looking at desk lamps, floor lamps, adjustable arm lamps, ones with magnifying glasses built in.



This lamp has a 5x magnifying glass, an adjustable arm design and a bulb that surrounds the glass. The perks of this type of lamp is that you can easily adjust it to where you need it and you can do detail work through the glass for better control. It does take some time getting used to it tho. you brush strokes are much smaller then they appear while working through the magnifying glass. I have found that the CFL in this type of lamp is not as bright as a standard CFL.



This lamp is much like the previous example with the swing arm but this type will have more control and more swing. This type of light is good because you can position it behind you while you are painting which has its advantages as the glare on the model is less. This type of lamp also uses a standard style screw in bulb.


This lamp is versatile, it is small, compact but still packs a punch when it comes to lighting the subject. As a bonus this lamp is also battery powered. This is the lamp that several competitions use to inspect models. It is easy to transport from on area to another.


This lamp, while one of the most expensive that OttLite offers has some of the best versatility. It uses a straight CFL which is nice and bright. It has a clamp for holding things as well as a magnifying glass. The best part of this lamp is it has several configurations. It can be made into a floor lamp, a desk lamp, and a screw mount desk lamp as well. While the price is up there, it is worth it if you have the cash.

In closing there are a ton of different light, bulbs and bases to pick from and you do not always have to pick from one pre-packages light. I picked up an OttLite bulb from Hobby Lobby for 13 bucks and put it into an office style lamp that cost me 12 bucks. So for a total of 25 I have a versatile OttLite lamp that fits my needs well. As hobbyist we are known for being creative, you do not always have to use that creativity on our models, but in our tools as well!

If you have any questions please drop me a line at [email protected].

Please drop by the site. Weekly updates including new tutorials and products!
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 02:10 PM
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Very informative. Are the Daylight bulbs also sold in normal retail operations?
Will check out the web site.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 03:33 PM
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You can find a small selection of daylight bulbs in most local retailers. Both meijer and walmart carry them. I am not sure about the brands and the wattage, but I have seen both at those stores.

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Reveal are sold almost everywhere too.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 07:23 PM
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Nice guide there Djinn. I can vouch for the Ottlite...I use one, though mine is the smaller brother to the one you detailed.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 07:42 PM
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Great guide Djinn

For UK users, check out Hobbycraft. They have competitive prices on lamps and bulbs, and occasionally they have lamps on sale.

I got this from them at xmas for about 25.

I must admit I was dubious at first at spending any kind of money on a 'special modelling lamp', but the difference is amazing. If you enjoy painting and your skills are progressing it's a worthy investment.


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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-24-11, 08:47 PM
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Fantastic guide Djinn, very informative, the proper light makes such a big difference!
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-25-11, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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I try to please!
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-13-11, 02:25 AM
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Incase anyone in the UK didn't know, Energy Conservation laws regarding lightbulbs are changing so it's becoming a bit of a hassle to pick up Daylight bulbs anywhere other than specialist lighting stores (ie. You won't find them in B&Q!).

Anyway I get most my bulbs from: http://www.enviro-lights.co.uk if anyone needs to find a daylight bulb.

Also, thanks for the guide - will for sure be buying a magnifier-light combo in that time in the future where I have money
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-24-11, 01:52 AM
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This may be a stupid question but here goes, on my lamp it says max 40w, it currently has 28w bulb in it but I'm not sure if it's one of those energy saving ones, because apparently 28w = 40w, would that mean I'm already at my max? Hang on I'll take a photo because I'm tired and rambling. I'm just wondering if a) my bulb is at it's max, because it's pretty dim and b) is it already an energy saving bulb because if not I'd like one as apparently they don't get as hot.



The lamp (and bulb) is a good few years old, so I'm sure there's something better I can be sticking in there without paying more than a couple of quid.
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