Lighting conditions airbrush work space

Greetings fellow modelers,

Today I was using my airbrush for the first time in a very long time, to get back to the project of the Tamiya French Armored Carrier kit.
To give it the right paint color according to the painting and marking guide.
However, I found it quite hard to see which part I already had sprayed and which ones I didn’t.
I only had a good lamp in my spraybooth, but I really had to turn the model into the white light and do uncomfortable and maybe unhealthy things to get a good sight of the model.
How are your lighting conditions when you are airbrushing?
What tips and tricks could you give me?
I’m only having one or two windows in the place I’m working when airbrushing.
Only one windows give ligthing through natural resources such as sunlight.
Rest is all darkish and not really good in providing good lighting conditions I feel.
So I think I need artificial lighting, such as lamps.
But what lamps actually? I don’t know.

Hope I have provided enough information to help me out in this matter.

I’d recommend daylight bulbs in the 5500k range, Thats’s what 90% of my lighting in my workspace is.

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Maybe try a headlamp? Some are attachments for modeling/jewelery’s magnifying visors. Others, used by hikers, are simply a headband with a battery powered LED lamp. I’m not recommending it for choosing colors but it will allow you to see which areas you’ve painted and which still need paint.

There is a topic on workbench lights on the new forums with some really good info on the best lamps. Here:


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I thought of that but the OP seems to be having trouble with lighting in his spray booth. Improving general lighting is always a great idea but this situation may require a lamp directed into his booth or installed inside the spray booth. I was always hesitant to do the latter because of overspray gradually clouding the light.

I worked on my lighting situation by buying two Ottlites from Hobby Lobby this week. They are desk lamps so I can use them for general building work and they are removable from the base and can clamp to my spray booth.

I am constrained to airbrush in our garage, which is lit by a strip light and is generally quite dingy (not painted white, full of crap). I have a 250w halogen directional lamp over the bench which does provide enough light to paint by, and has the added benefit of giving some heat out as there is no other heating. Such a bright light could be what you need overhead to provide illumination without having to be too close to where you are actually spraying. Bright halogen bulbs give out a fairly white light, though you can get quite decent replacement Led bulbs these days, if the “corn cob” type, that give out similar levels and tones of light to a 250w halogen, though without the heat or power consumption.

Generally, you’ll want the brightest light (measured in the number of lumens) coming from above and behind your head. Medium light from the sides (more or less equal brightness but not more and preferably a little less bright than the overhead). Any light on the side of the object opposite from your eyes should be dimmer than the overhead or side lights.

So, for your spray booth, you should be able to light it from the front sides with desk or floor lamps and position it so that you also have a ceiling light above and slightly behind you. Because of the roof of the spray booth, the ceiling light might be better if you can lower it to just above your head height when seated in front of the spray booth. An option might be a tall floor lamp positioned behind your chair to shine over your head to your front. In any event, you want the light to shine at the object and not into your eyes. That usually means don’t face the window with your spray booth between you and it. The light from outside during the day will shine into your eyes and make seeing into the booth more difficult.

You may have to adjust the brightness and angle of the lights to reduce any glare from the wet paint. You can test this by holding a piece of aluminum foil in the spray booth and judging how the light reflects off of it. You should be able to see all the details of the foil without any objectionable glare.

Daylight balanced 3500-5500 K and as close to 100 CRI (color reproduction index) will give the best light for judging colors.

You can get bulbs in these ranges fairly inexpensively now days.

These bulbs are rated for 3000 K and 100 CRI and come in two different lumen ranges:

Solux Color View Bulbs

They’re only about US$2.50 each. However, you can probably find similar bulbs online or at your local big-box store. There are also similar LED and tube and compact florescent bulbs.

I have a home made paint booth that I rigged up using that heavy corrugated plastic stock like for yard signs which I have a slot in the back for a air filter and rigged up a fan with dryer hose out of an old computer rack cooling fan. Not fancy but works, I added a flex strip of led’s into the inside edge that give me a soft uniform light inside of it that I plug in as necessary. I found those worked better than a lamp because the wrap around the sides and top and I dont get the shadows that an exterior lamp would would cast. A friend gave them to me, super cheap and run off a usb plug so I dont know a source off the top of my head but should be easy to find. ITs on a narrow and flexible bank with literally dozens of small led’s, give it a search.

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I too have to agree with the Ottlite purchases.

Having been a student and a modeler for decades, I started with the simple incandescent tungsten filament, went to Halogen, and then went to Ottlite. Here are my life hacks…

The incandescent bulb with interior filament is obsolete. Don’t use it. These 75W bulbs burn hot for little light for the energy expended. Their pale yellow light doesn’t spread far and bright enough. You’re wasting energy using these. I mean 75 WATTS is a LOT of energy when you can be using 13W for brighter and whiter light that your eyes are comfortable with. You don’t want a spotlight to model with, you want overhead light to brighten up the entire desk.

The Halogen is just like your older car’s headlights and burns yellow and HOT! While Halogens are bright, they burn so hot that it’s not worth getting your flesh and forehead singed after hours at your desk. Halogens are getting outdated. Halogens spread the light better than Incandescents, but why not buy a car with white LED headlights instead?

Buy Ottlites and the Daytime Bright White bulbs. Many hardware stores sell these Daytime Light bulbs. You want WHITE LIGHT like the new luxury car’s LED headlights…a big difference than the pale yellow of many cars’ headlights. If you seen LED streetlights compared to the pale yellow halogen streetlights, then you know what I mean. 20W or less for Ottlites is the norm. And you want a light with a high and tall adjustable neck, not something so low that you can only stick your hands under. This light is great for reading books too. You might need to buy two lamps to light your entire desk, but at 18W per lamp, that’s still 26W and less than a 75W incandescent or even a 40W Halogen.

LED lights…I find that LED lights are just too dim with all those little LED bulbs. While LED lights save energy, their light output is often not bright enough for modeling, even with several LED lamps. You need Daylight fluorescent tubes and Ottlites are the best. Sure, you can get by with LED lamps; however, some reviewers say that LED lamps aren’t long lasting.

Ottlites aren’t hype; they work and last. I buy the brand name and I don’t accept cheap Ottlite substitutes. With Daylight Bulb Ottlites, I don’t get eyestrain as much…just as advertised. Ottlites really are worth the price. :ok_hand: :+1:


I made my own booth from 4 computer rack fans, & a large Transparent storage box. I’ve upgraded this with some LED bar lights on top, shining through the transparent top, ie out of spray range.
The two spots have different K ratings one Halogen, one fluorescent.

I also have a $/£/€ store tv turntable , makes it much easier to handle turning models round. Tamiya also do something similar, a Spray-Work Painting Stand Set, but I’d rather spend a £/$/€ than $25


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In my spray booth I have installed two bright white LED light bars; one near the front pointed straight down, the second mounted just a little farther back pointed at a 45deg angle towards the back. That seems to give pretty solid lighting. I’ll try to upload a photo when I get a chance.


Thank you all for the great information you have provided so far.
As I was reading through, I was thinking of sending some photo’s for the topic.
Then you can get a even better idea of the situation where I’m airbrushing.
I was also thinking when I was reading through, that a visit at the local construction market would be a good idea.
I was also planning to pay it a visit to get some stuff for organizing my paint in my drawers, as I have posted in another topic here.
Thank you so far for all the great help, really appreciated.


Here is the space I’m airbrushing.
I’m sitting with my face to the window.
I have tried other sitting positions, but that didn’t work.
I ended up getting paint on my trousers.
I’m also limited to where I’m able to sit because of the only window is located there.
Also there is only one power socket in the barn.
So, if you are able to offer more specific help.
Would be nice.

Well, if it were my barn, I think I would head to Gamma or Hornbach to get some supplies to install additional sockets so I could plug in some lights and other accessories.


Well, I planned to go to the Gamma to also reorganize my drawers on my bed room where I’m assembling my models and paint with brushes. Got a lot of new tools I bought recently. So need to reorganize the space I got. Could also be an opportunity to improve the barn.

Get a buss bar for the end of the extension cord. Set up a table to work on and set up equipment on. Get some hanging racks to put the bikes on to free up floor space. Get a box fan for the window to pull the fumes out of the room. Get a space heater for cooler days. Maybe a shop light above the work table. You have a radio already. Find a chair to use at the table. Maybe some more storage shelves for the tools I see in the picture.

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You, at the very least need daylight rated bulbs. I use a mix of warn white and cool white in my paint and photo areas.

I once did some color retouching to a photograph in incandescent light and it looked great but when I walked it out into the daylight the retouched colors stood out like a sore thumb.

On a related note; while working in the art department of a local TV station I once did a camera card (something no longer used in TV.) It advertised an upcoming Aladdin movie. It showed crossed golden Semitar Swords on a purple background. It had a super great color contrast! However when converted to black & and while the swords completely disappeared into the colored background so it was useless! (Both colors having the same “gray value!”)

Yes, Virginia we did actually watch B&W television in those bye gone days!

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And we got up and walked across the room to change channels and adjust volume. Maybe got on the roof and played with the external antenna a bit.

Fun times, for sure.


You were in the dark ages. We had a motor attached to the antenna, with a little control box on top of the TV. Turn the knob left or right to move the antenna, til you get the best picture.

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