Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helpful Handy Hint #2 Buying Light Bulbs

Most people who paint their little toy soldiers are well aware of the benefits of a well lit area. Even more important is having the proper lighting, not just a lot of it. As the Brushthralls have noted, there are a ton of good reasons to get some bright white light sources. Eye strain relief and color correctness and alla that.

The notion of the color of light you use as an important concept is touched on, but they don't really go into enough info for my tastes. The reason a low temperature color of light can be problematic for painting is because the lower the temperature of the light, the more yellow it tends to be. It's kinda hard to tell what your colors actually look like when everything has a yellow hue about it due to the light.

I fully support the 5000 kelvin industry standard (though I use 5500 kelvin).

I also fully support using those low-wattage, energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs. Not only do they look super cool, but they last a lot longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Saving money over time on power bills and light bulb replacements is a good thing. Additionally, they also generate a lot less heat. I tend to paint with my light sources at head level. One false move and I just burned my face/head on my metal desk lamp.

The last little bit of advice I have for selecting your light sources is on how to know exactly what color the light is. I ran into a lot of trouble a few months ago because I forgot to check the bulbs to see what the light temperature was. I kept trying to use the arbitrary descriptors the manufacturers had put on the packages.


Over 4 trips to the store, I ended up with a ton of extra light bulbs well below the 5000-5500 k range that I wanted. What constitutes 'day light', 'natural light' or 'bright white' is up to interpretation and will be different from company to company and even over time within the same company. Always, always try and check the temperature of the light. It's usually printed on the base of the bulb (in the case of the energy-saver curly-cue kind) and is pretty viable through the kind of clear packaging that these things come in. Sometimes its also printed on the package itself.

Now, go participate in some commerce.


  1. Yeah, as much as I liked the trendy white on black, that's what everyone does and eye strain is a bitch.

    So, I upped the font size and went back to black on white. Or 'near white' in this case.