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Illuminating Your Ideas!

As a scale modeller I rely on good lighting to see and work with small details.

So what are the best options?
There are a few key points to think about:

  • Natural sunlight is the best kind of light, but when you’re working indoors or in the evening, this might be hard to come by
  • The best lights for model building or assembly are bright, diffuse, and carry a neutral colour-temperature (e.g., daylight lamps)
  • Consider ergonomics, durability, and other features, like touch control dimmers
Bench mounted magnifing Lamps

A few points to think about when looking for your bench lighting.

When thinking about lighting you should think long term here, and how big are your models and are they going to get bigger and more complex? This will have a bearing on the size and power of the light, also do you need magnification with it?

I know from my own experience I have one light with magnification as this helps with fine detail work when painting figures and other small items.

In general, you want a lamp that can move around your desk or table space. That means you’ll likely want a lamp with an articulating swing arm and swivel head.

Whether it is a daylight modelling lamp for hobby work, or simply for office tasks, you want your light to go where you need it.

Constant illumination.
Try to avoid lamps that flicker such as fluorescent lighting, whilst OK for short term when working for longer periods this can cause eye strain, headaches, sleepiness, and other discomfort.

I have a large LED tube above my bench for main overall lighting, and then two smaller bench mounted lights for added illumination when doing fine detail work. These both swing around to my work area as needed, and folded back out of the way when not in use.

  1. Colour temperature.
    If you’re assembling small parts, then using a lamp that reproduces accurate colour and contrast on your working surface will help.

There are two ways to ensure good colour temperature on your hobby working surfaces, e.g., your models, parts, or tools:

  1. Choose a daylight lamp (or also known as a full spectrum light)

  2. If you plan to use multiple lamps, then try and use the same kind of lamps for all of them

Should it be soft or hard?
A great lamp for modelling hobbies is one that is bright and produces soft, diffuse illumination. You need both bright and diffuse light. Harsh illumination that produces hard reflections, e.g., spots that are super bright, is just as bad as lighting that is too dark. Contrast is most useful for model building because it helps maintain your ability visually resolve detail.

Contrast is what makes it possible to see depth, or the ability to resolve a fine detail element. A surface farther away must feel like it is some distance away from you.

Summing up
Here are the 8 simple tips for choosing a lamp for modelling hobbies:

  1. Choose a lamp with good ergonomics

  2. Try before you buy

  3. Consider magnifier lamps for detailed hobby work

  4. Avoid lamps that flicker

  5. Colour temperature is important for hobby work

  6. Avoid incandescent bulbs

  7. Soft light is better than hard light

  8. Bad lighting can damage your eyes