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DIY Portable Lighting Cabinet


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Hello fellow obsessive miniature painting enthusiasts. Today's post addresses a few painting-related concerns I've been experiencing lately, which threatened to keep me from painting to the standard of which I'm accustomed, and we can't be having any of that ;). Having somewhat recently made the minor relocation from Montana to England, I've been tackling the rebuilding of some 15 years of collected hobby supplies in a matter of weeks, and on an extremely limited budget. This has been prioritisation (see, I spelled that without a "z" so the English grammar zealots don't hunt me down for my blatant Americanness) at its most efficient. I suspect the solution I've come up with may help those of you in a similar situation, or provide inspiration for the improvement of your own toolkit. The list of concerns were as follows:


1. LIGHTING. Obviously, this is of paramount importance. For me, it's gotta be full spectrum, ~5500k to 6000k. It has to be evenly spread and not create too much heat (drying my paints).

2. SHADOWS. I paint at night. I live at night. If I start painting while the sun is up, I can guarantee it'll be dark long before I've finished. I need good lighting in a space with little to no ambient light of its own, and too many shadows make my eyes go all buggy and tired after only a couple hours (or less) of painting. I like to paint for 8+ hours at a time whenever given the opportunity, so shadows need to be controlled.

3. BUDGET. Professional quality hobby supplies cost money. I spend most of mine traveling from pillar to post on this planet. However, having owned the professional supplies at one point or another, I've become spoiled and hate compromising on quality. If you can afford dual overhead Ott Lamps, more power to you... wish I still had mine. This lighting solution costs less than one Ott fluorescent tube, nevermind the actual fixture... about $20 US. I my case, I already had everything except the foam board, so I spent only ~$5. If your time is worth money, this only took about an hour to build from scratch.

4. PORTABILITY. I live in a tiny magikal cottage in Somerset.. they apparently didn't build offices into stone cottages 300 years ago, so I'm usually set up at the kitchen table. In 8-10 weeks, I'll be living in Dublin, Ireland for ~6 months, then back to England. I'll just leave this cabinet here when I go, and build a new one when I get there. On a smaller scale, sometimes I need to clear my stuff out of the way when guests come over, or perhaps sit in front of the tv while painting. My things need to be easy to move these days. Building the foam board cabinet into a bed serving tray means it weighs very little and has handles.



Materials: 1x A2 (large) sheet of foam board with shiny white gloss coating (~$5), 1x wooden bed serving tray or similar (~$5), 1x automotive inspection lamp or similar (~$5), 1x 100w (or equivalent low-energy) full spectrum bulb/fluorescent tube (~$4), Hobby knife, glue, measuring implement, straight edge (you already have these). Time to complete: approx. 1 hour.


***BEHOLD: The Portable Lighting Cabinet ***


Side View:



Top Down View:



Clearly you can see the contrast in lighting when compared to the ambient lighting around the cabinet. It should be noted that I have NOT turned off the overhead lights in the room. Previously, I had been using the inspection lamp WITHOUT the lighting cabinet, and while sufficient for painting with much strain upon my eyes, this is still a tremendous improvement. It was so simple to make, I won't even bother explaining how to do it in detail. I just started by taking some internal measurements of the bed serving tray, drew the cutout lines onto the foam board with a pencil and straightedge, cutout the pieces with my hobby knife, glued everything together with pvc glue, reinforced the corners with superglue, used some scrap foam board to make brush and tool holders, and voila! As I'm right-handed, the brush holders are comfortably set off to the right, and the left offset of the inspection lamp actually means it's directly over my mini while I hold it with my left hand. I will specifically note that I think it's important to have angled the back of the cabinet below the lamp rather than make a plain 90degree box because it helps reflect light evenly to the back of the mini... one more way of keeping shadows under control.


Disclaimer: Sorry to have not displayed Reaper products. I own all the Reaper MSPs and Pro Paints, as well as boxes of minis, and a gigantic bag full of swag points, and miss them terribly while they're all in storage in the States. I'm pleased to see that Reaper now has free shipping to EU/UK on orders over 35€/£.


Let me know what you think, suggestions for improvement, assembly questions, etc. Cheers~ Tenebrien

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Hmm, my paint table is a secretary desk, one of those tables with a folding lid that, when opened, extends the work surface. I've mounted a light on the underside of the top. Now your light cabinet has me considering lining the interior surfaces with white contact paper. I really like how the light bounces around and sort of diffuses itself. Thanks Tenebrien for some great ideas.


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