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How to use a Camera Lucida in 5 Easy Steps!

A Camera Lucida is a tool that artist like to use when they want to make a quick sketch of something, and have it extremely accurate.

What is a Camera Lucida?

It is a sketching tool that artist use to copy the image that they are directly viewing, without needing to move their head.

It has been used for many, many years.

How does the Camera Lucida work?

There is a piece of glass that is placed and tilted at a 45 degree angle. So, when you look down into it, you can see what is directly on the bottom. But, you also get to see a reflection of what is in front of you.

Thus, creating the perfect sketching outcome.

That way, you don’t have to try and sketch something without having to move around a lot, and it is a lot more accurate since you have it basically almost directly onto your paper.

How do you use it?

It’s really easy. All you have to do is tilt the Camera Lucida until you can see what’s directly in front of you without having to look up.

You do this by looking into the open slot, and adjusting the angle and height of your Camera Lucida. 

A camera Lucida is not to be confused with a Camera Obscura. A Camera Obscura is a dark box with a small hole, that allows an object to be viewed both rotated and flipped.

A Camera Lucida has been remade and recreated in a variety of ways since it’s original creation. You can now even use a piece of glass to transfer an image from your phone onto a piece of paper to sketch from. It is a great tool to use!

Check out a new type of Camera Lucida! Place your phone or tablet parallel to the glass, and sketch any image off of the internet!

Step 1:

Place your Camera Lucida onto a flat surface.

Step 2:

Place your desired canvas under the Camera Lucida.

Step 3:

Look into the open slot of your Camera Lucida.

Step 4:

Adjust the position of the camera Lucida until you can see the object you are wanting to sketch, and the canvas below it at the same time.

Step 5:

Start Sketching! It’s as easy as that!

If you want to make your own Camera Lucida, here are a few tips:

The type of mirror you use is really important. You want to make sure that you have the most precise reflection. Using a Front Surface Mirror (AKA a First Surface Mirror) would be your best option. The optical quality with provide the most precise reflection.

The glass that you use in the front is important too. A great glass to use would be the dielectric beamsplitter. A stereoscopic mirror provides a tint-free, undistorted image.

Dielectric Beamsplitter Glass
Dielectric Beamsplitter GLass

Dielectric Beamsplitter mirrors provide great quality, and reduce the double image (also known as “ghosting” image) that can confuse the artist and mix up the lines.

First Surface Mirror
First Surface Mirror

First Surface Mirrors provide a sharp reflection, and do not have a gap like standard mirrors do.

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