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What is Gel?

Gel is used to change the colour of the beam of light from a lantern.  Traditionally it was made from gelatine which is where the name derives from.  Now it is made from a transparent polycarbonate or similar material.  It is a thin plasticky feeling sheet that is held in place with a gel frame which slots into the front of the lantern.

Many different colours of gel are available to allow lighting designers to pick the exact colour they required for the look they are producing.  In addition gel is used for colour correction.

Each different colour will have its own name and/or number, depending on the manufacturer. They will normally have swatch books available with small samples of all the different colours – these are usually arranged in one of two ways: Firstly in colour groups (so all the blues together), which is useful for designers choosing the right shade. Secondly in numerical order, which makes it easy to find a colour if someone tells you the number.

Gel is available in standard versions and high temperature depending on the light source being used.  It deteriorates over time with dark saturated colours generally deteriorating faster.

Since the introduction of LED lighting the use of gel has dramatically reduced as the colour of many LED lanterns can be controlled from the lighting controller removing the need for gel.

It’s normally bought on rolls or in sheets although some suppliers will sell it ready cut to size for the fixture you are using.


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