I bought a NeoLucida, a modern version of an old optical drawing aid. The ad can be seen on YouTube, or you can find out more at Big i Design. I also bought David Hockney's book Secret Knowledge about optical drawing aids as used in the Renaissance and later.

It's an interesting device, but I started wondering if we could do better with modern optics. So I bought a 50% beamsplitter pentaprism from Edmund Optics and built a mounting bracket that fits on a standard microphone stand.

Home built camera lucida

My first idea is that I would rather look forward at the subject and see the reflected image of the paper, rather than down at the paper as in the Neo Lucida.

Human with camera lucida

David Hockney notes in his book that with the original camera lucida the subject needs to be brightly lit. I find that by looking forward it is the paper underneath that now may need more light, and this is easier to arrange. I just have a small diffuse photographic LED light that I can shine on the paper.

Back to Graphics