Sometimes, when working on a drawing or painting at home, the final result will look incorrect when shown outside or in different light. How can I ensure color correctness when working on my art?

2 Answers 2


As photographers know, the color of light is usually not white, and when working in your home, you're often working under tungsten bulbs (or similar) which have a warm tone to the light or with fluorescent which have a green cast. Because your brain is pretty good at making what you think should be white look like white, these lights can cause your eyes to see the colors differently and, as a result, change the way you mix or blend in your work.

As with photography, we can control the light we use and select for what our eyes naturally tend to, which is daylight. Where possible, you should light your work with dedicated lamps using daylight balanced light bulbs with a color temperature in and around 5500K. The packaging should specify the color temperature, which is more reliable than if it merely says daylight on the package, so avoid those that don't or that claim a temperature way off that number.

I really recommend getting some decent swing-arm desk lamps and LED bulbs. Not only are these lamps cheaper, but they're usually a lot brighter and much easier to position, especially with easels. LEDs are really efficient and they don't heat you up when working in close quarters, making for a more comfortable experience.

  • Just to add, not all "daylight" bulbs are the same. The bulb color can be adjusted so that the output looks like a certain temperature, like 5500K, but if it's done with something like collections of RGB LEDs, it can be a little of an optical illusion. It will look white, but portions of the spectrum may not be well represented. When you illuminate things with it, some colors of light won't actually be there to reflect off your subject, so the colors can look off. Choose bulbs with as high a color rendering index as you can find, which addresses that.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 16, 2022 at 18:58

Note: replace North with South if you are in the Southern hemisphere

Generally speaking: aim to draw or paint in North light.

North light is that which comes from windows facing North. If you're able, block out light from other windows. But why? Well, the sun is in the South, so windows facing in other directions will have variable light during the day, and the properties of it will change significantly as the sun moves across the sky. The North light will obviously still vary in intensity, but will otherwise be relatively constant.

Here's a bit more information and history on North light.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .