Collecting miniatures of our favorite fictional properties – be it videogames, tabletop games, comic books or movies – is a fulfilling hobby, but some enthusiasts would argue that painting a miniature from blank base to full-color, detailed glory is even more so. It’s a specific and careful art – despite the pocket-size dimensions giving them the name ‘miniature’, these figurines come with such intricate degrees of detail they often look as though they’re ready to leap off your shelf and jump into action even when they’re a blank canvass version of their colorful and vibrant selves.
Pulling off the exact orangey-yellow tint of Tracer’s uniform, or getting just the right wooden texture to add fluidity and movement to a Baby Groot figurine, requires a great deal of patience and precision, especially when the details we’re looking to accentuate are so small and often elaborate. But along with the careful process of prepping and priming and sealing your base, an addition to your repertoire – adding a magnifying glass – can make this job much easier. Handsfree magnifying glasses, either of the table-top varieties slightly reminiscent of microscopes or with clamps that let you secure them to the side of your workstation, can make the job of bringing out a heightened degree of realism and attention to detail much easier than possible to achieve with the naked eye. Here are our picks of the best magnifying glasses you may want to include in your miniature painting toolkit.
Brightech LightView PRO LED Magnifying Lamp
With a lens of magnification 2.25x and a 5-inch diameter, possibly the best feature of the unit is its flexibility. A maximum 2.5-inch metallic clamp secures it in place at the edge of your workstation, the arm a whopping 38 inches at full-length and with triple joints and an internal 360-degree swivel-featuring cantilever to give you maximum positioning flexibility. Be it clear out of the way of your workstation, or positioned right over your work-surface as you peer through the lens at the magnified detailing of your miniature so you can better see what you’re doing, the smooth movement and sturdy structure of this magnifying lamp makes it an instant favorite not just for miniature painting but any other job or hobby that requires minute attention to detail, like nail art or re-wiring circuit boards. The lamp can be positioned to keep up to 9 inches of clearance above your workstation, so it can be kept well out of the way when you’re not using it.
The unit also doubles as a lamp, emanating 650 lumens of bright, energy-efficient LED light to throw every miniscule detail into sharp relief without creating so much of a glare that you get a headache from too much exposure, or experience discomfort if you already have some degree of visual impairment. In fact, this lamp is quite the brilliant reading supplement to let anyone experiencing impaired vision to clearly see what they’re doing when reading or using a computer, without having to put strain on your eyes.
Powered by a 60-inch plug-in cord, this unit measures 21.5 by 10 by 4.6 inches and weighs a reasonable 7.5 pounds.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Ivation LED Lighted 2x Magnifier
While it doesn’t have the enviably impressive reach of our top pick, we are impressed nonetheless with our second entry, and not only because of the price. The 4.25-inch diameter of the lens gives you plenty of room to work with when zeroing in on the nuances that’ll bring your miniature to life, while the lens’ magnification of 2x – as well as a 5x inset spot lens – gives you better control in working with small figurines with intricate and often difficult to see detailing.
The unit can be both free-standing, or clamped to the edge of a work station, rubberized grip pads giving you the right stability, while the 9-inch flexible gooseneck lets you move the lens around and position it where you need it. Two powerful LED lightbulbs – powered by 3 Triple-A batteries – also make this unit double as a lamp, giving you a focused light source to work with to enhance your precision and give you a better shot at spotting imperfections.
One of the features that makes this unit stand out from the rest of our picks, though, is the pair of removable gooseneck arms you can attach to the lamp, simply screwing them in on either side and using them to clamp on to whatever you’re working on, holding it right underneath the focused spotlight of your lamp beneath the lens. This gives you better flexibility as well, by keeping your hands free for other tasks than holding the miniature in place as you paint.
Fancii Daylight LED 3X Magnifying Lamp
This heavy-duty magnifier lamp boasts some impressive specs – we love the clearance the 15-inch gooseneck gives us, flexible to let us position the 3.5-inch diameter lens of 3x magnification where we need it. The wireless unit is rechargeable, with a USB cable included to plug into your computer or laptop and with battery lifespan of 6 hours per full charge. This, along with the clamp system used to secure the lamp to the edge of your workstation, makes this a portable unit you can use at various desks and tables around your home or carry to work, great not just as a magnifier but as a reading lamp as well thanks to its six bright and energy-efficient LED lights with 3 adjustable degrees of brightness, so you don’t have to worry about the light being too dim or too glaring to see what you’re doing.
Carson DeskBrite200 LED Lighted 2x Magnifier
A stand-up desktop magnifier, this unit comes with a 4-inch diameter lens of 3x magnification, as well as a 5x inset spot lens to give you a closer focus when you need it. The unit can be powered both by battery – two Double-A batteries – or plugged in, fitted with two bright LED bulbs to illuminate what you’re working on and minimizing the chances of mistakes or overlooked details even further. The neck of the lamp is flexible and can be positioned where you need it – be it elevated above the spot where you’re painting your miniature or even angled to let you better read your keyboard, books or newspapers, especially useful for someone experiencing a condition like macular degeneration, making the experience easy and non-strenuous on the eyes.
- Geek & Sundry: http://geekandsundry.com/5-things-beginner-miniature-painters-need-to-know/
- Carson: http://carson.com/
- How To Paint Miniatures: http://www.how-to-paint-miniatures.com/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnifying_glass