Work Bench Lighting, WIP and Contrast
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Thread: Work Bench Lighting, WIP and Contrast

  1. #1

    Unhappy Work Bench Lighting, WIP and Contrast

    Hi all,
    Just wondering how you deal with judging contrast and your lighting setup.

    Maybe I don't have the best lighting setup - I think its decent but you never know what is good and bad without a reference - but I find that as I move the mini around the work area, I get different levels of contrast in my paint job and also how smooth the mini looks.

    As I type this, it makes me think that I should really judge the quality of my work in the brightest area of my work space? Yes? Sometimes that seems an artificially harsh environment since it is so bright compared to where people will typically be viewing my minis. Then again, if I achieve good contrast/blends in the brightest area, my work will look even better in more "normal" conditions.

    I'm asking because it seems that my minis look good in normal light, but lose something in (contrast especially) when I go to take pictures. The subtle plays of color and smooth blends I see in normal conditions seem to fade away when taking photos. I readily admit I such at taking photos despite having read multiple articles, but am wondering if the poor results are really just that I am not judging the quality of my work in the right lighting conditions.

    Sorry for rambling, but trying to raise the bar of my work, and understanding the best conditions to judge that work seems important.


  2. #2


    I've often been amazed at how much clearer all the colors and details become when I look at the model under direct sunlight. As such, I'm looking for some full-spectrum lights to set up in my hobby desk.

    Is anyone using grow-lights for hobby painting? Do you prefer light directly above your work, or is it better coming right over your shoulder?

    I'll probably mount some 48" full-spectrum fluorescent tubes on the bottom side of the shelf above my desk, and also get a smaller full-spectrum LED lamp that I can easily move around the house, like for when I want to recline on the couch as I tweak with a sculpt.

    Would like to hear thoughts from the more experienced.

  3. #3


    I still think proper lighting was the probably the best investment I made when I first started, next to getting natural hair brushes. Whenever I paint somewhere else and then come back to my own workstation, I can always pick out a few areas that need touching up under better lightning. The colours always seem distorted when you are not looking at it with sunlight or bright enough white light.

    I use these full spectrum CFLs, daylight white 5500k, very bright to simulate sunlight even in my basement that has virtually no windows. The only issues are that they are kind of big and may not fit into mounts that are small. The also give off a slight buzzing, but pretty much unnoticeable after a minute or two.

    I have one of those bulbs in a ceiling fixture overhead to give general lightning over the entire area, then one more on either side of me in these floor lamps. Cheap, easy to move around, with adjustable goose neck.
    Not quite directly over the shoulder, probably more at 45 degrees is usually enough. The advantage I find with floor lamps over other mounted lamps is that you can readily move it around the room and of course around you to get that over the shoulder illumination when needed.

    Overall, a pack of those bulbs plus 2 floor lamps is a budget ~$60 setup which is working great, to serve my novice needs at least. I would say, if you can spend more and don't mind the extra energy usage, by all means mount fluorescent tubes overhead. More light the better.

  4. #4


    On full spectrum

    Check out these people
    I have several of their bulbs, bought through the web page - they work as advertised and have good life expectancy.

    There is information on that web site on CRI - this is a measure of how closely the bulb reaches "full spectrum" of sunlight. If the product doesn't clearly state CRI, then it is probably pretty bad. I would not consider anything less than 90 to really be full spectrum

    As of today, there isn't a mass market LED bulb that is both daylight and full spectrum. When that arrives, that will be the thing to get.

    For the best lighting for painting, you probably need a minimum of 3 lamps. One overhead and one each illuminating left and right.

    My eyes are aging so I enjoy having lots of light. However, be careful with the contrast and colour selection. Things look brighter with lots of light, and take them into a regular environment and they will look darker.
    So test out your colour schemes first, look at them under different lighting situations

    Good luck


  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnLobster View Post
    On full spectrum

    Check out these people
    I have several of their bulbs, bought through the web page - they work as advertised and have good life expectancy.

    And wouldja believe it - they now sell "BlueMax" LED bulbs, at a higher CRI. Next time I get a burned out bulb, that's what I'll get.

    One tip with all bulbs, especially LED, the cooler you can keep the bulb, the longer it will last


  6. #6


    There is more to "natural" color than CRI. The CCT (correlated color temperature) might be a better metric for artists. And the color temperature, which can range from about from 2700k to 6000k. Low is "warm" yellow like a candle, highest has a painful blue tint (idiots put these into their car headlamps).

    Both CFL and LED lights are becoming cheap commodity items so its hard to find the technical specifications relevent to you before buying.

    Grow lights are not at all natural light. They boost the frequencies that chlorophyl reacts to.

    How will the painted figure be displayed? People often play games under flourescent tubes of various color temps.

    Here's a primer:

    and maybe here:

    This is very old but it has some graphics showing spectrums (in particular post#12):

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