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List of Helpful Object Source Lighting Tutorials

Whether it is a lamp, glowing lava, or a spotlight, adding the glow effect onto the model can look impressive. Many award-winning miniatures have multiple lights that appear to actually be glowing. I’ve gathered some articles with object source lighting tutorials so learn how to do this effect.

Object Source Lighting Tutorials

The term object source lighting (OSL) is what painters use to describe the illusion of a light striking the model. The painted on lighting effect can be dramatic, and sometimes overdone. But it is also tricky to achieve.

I have tried to do this effect on some of my miniatures with varying levels of success. But rather than try to create a tutorial on something I don’t fully get myself, I found articles by painters who have mastered the technique.

Light the Fire

Tips on using Object Source Lighting

Painted by Unknown on Chest of Colors

I couldn’t find who the author was for this guest post on Chest of Colors, but not only is this a beautifully well-done miniature, but the tips offered are great.

“C’mon baby, light my fire ” – OSL Tips | Chest of Colors

Seven ‘commandments’ are given on object source lighting, each with a short description of how they would affect the painting. Glazes are used for the larger areas, the darkest color of light. For smaller areas or the brighter color, glazes will run. So soft highlights are used instead.

Ron’s Glowing Power Fist

How to Paint a Glowing Power Fist

Power Fist by Ron of From the Warp

Ron was challenged to show how he would paint a glowing power fist after suggesting changes to someone else’s miniature.

Painting a Glowing Power Fist | From the Warp

While not everyone goes for the glowing fist look, he has some great tips on where the light would strike. Painting these colors up with lighter and lighter blues pulls off a nice effect.

His biggest three tips:

  1. It’s not a quick process.
  2. You need to be comfortable painting fine details and blending.
  3. It requires a basic knowledge of object source lighting.

Getting the Radius Right

Painting OSL Radius Correctly

Glowing Grenade by Ron of From the Warp

In another tutorial, Ron dives into getting the radius of the glow effect correct.

Painting a Glowing Power Fist Part 3 | From the Warp

In this tutorial, he highlights where the glow would actually reach on the model and the fading effects over distance. I love how he grabbed a spare mini to show how this effect would be done.

Raffaele’s Study of Light

Playing with light and shadow on face

Painting by Raffaele

The team at Massive Voodoo are no strangers to amazingly painted miniatures. Many include some incredible use of light and shadow.

Tutorial of Light and Shadow | Massive Voodoo

Raffa looks at different textures and materials and how they would act with various light sources. Adding some colored lights add more interest to the post and provides a nice foundation for other Object Source Lighting tutorials.

Massive OSL Painting Tutorial

Miniature with Subtle Object Source Lighting

Miniature painted by Roman of Massive Voodoo

Roman continues the conversation on Massive Voodoo with a look at different miniatures the team has painted and a small painting tutorial for the lady above.

Tutorial – Object Source Lighting | Massive Voodoo

What I like about Roman’s tutorial is that he leaves the lighting soft and subtle. Too often OSL hits us over the head with bright colors and hard transitions. He also has a great tip on where to place the light:

I think myself into the source of the OSL. Now I check the areas around me by looking out of the OSL source. Those places nearby will get attention by the OSL, others far away or not seen out of my little hideout will not be affected.

Dry Brushing Object Source Lighting

Painting OSL with Drybrushing

Painted by Anthony on LoUMP

While using an airbrush makes painting OSL easier, Anthony shows how it can be done quickly with a dry brush.

Tutorial: Quick and Dirty Tricks for Object Source Lighting | LoUMP

He also throws out a great tip for anybody concerned with giving object source lighting a try: varnish first. You can then use mineral spirits and a Q-Tip to remove errors. After adding a few layers green (dark to light) he gives the vials and brightest areas a wash to smooth the colors back together.

Easy Plasma Glue

Painting a glowing plasma gun

Plasma Gun by Xerothius

There is something about that soft glow of a plasma gun. Xerothius shows how he painted the glowing effect with different layers of paints.

Plasma Glow Effect (easy way) | Xerothius Model Painting

Not only is a cool trick to use the magnetized hand to attach to a drill bit, but he also talks painting the lightest colors at the ‘hottest’ part of the model.

OSL in Five Easy Steps

Painting Object Source Lighting with Airbrush

Scourge by the Eye of Terror

The Eye of Terror put together some nice illustrations for how he painted the weapon effects for his Scourges. Using an airbrush or a dry brush gives a nice effect before coming back in with a detail brush.

Painting OSL  Weapon Effects in 5 Easy Steps | Eye of Terror

The cool thing with this tutorial is he illustrates each point with a basic diagram. It is easier to see than the actual model while being practical enough to see how it would work.

Advanced Look at OSL

Advanced Object Source Lighting Tutorial

Slayer by Althai

The Hand Cannon gives a tutorial for painting OSL on this Warmachine Slayer.

Advanced Tutorial Object Source Lighting | Hand Cannon Online

Covering topics like how OSL effect is different on metallic and non-metallic paints and points like start with a darker model to provide more contrast. But I think it is summed up in his Cardinal Rule:

The Cardinal Rule of OSL: Areas hit by a light source must appear lighter than surrounding unlit areas.

Another tidbit of helpful tips: grab a colored LED and shine it on the model. This will help you get a sense of where the color strikes the model and how it effects the underlying paint color.

Wrap Up

I hope that this collection of guides to object source lighting was helpful. If you have any additional tutorials that have helped you learn this technique share them in the comments below. Also, if you have used the tutorials on one of your miniatures, add the picture below for us to see as well.