Camera Lucida Drawings


In March I bought a Camera Lucida – mainly as drawing aid for my drawing pupils.
If you’re not familiar with this device:
The Camera Lucida is a light, portable device you clamp on a table. It has a long neck and a lens on top through which it is possible to see both the drawing object and the sketching paper and thus trace it on the paper.


This optical drawing tool is about 400 years old and for years you could only get it as an expensive antique collectible.
David Hockney experimented with it and wrote about it in his Book „Secret Knowledge“, but lately it was rediscovered by some artists who produced some modern and affordable versions like the „NeoLucida“.

Years ago I had constructed a passably working copy of it myself, but back then found the reflected image too small and too hard to see, so I soon lost the interest to go on further.
But now I took the chance to buy one of the modern, new Camera Lucidas.
I tested it myself and encouraged my pupils to draw with it.

Interestingly I still found the reflected image on the paper quite small, but if you get out the mounted lens as high as possible you are able to fill a DIN A 4 paper quite well. To obtain a sufficient brightness of the reflected image, both – paper and object – should be lighted with the same value.
Bearing these preconditions in mind and with some practice and a lot, lot of patience you are able to produce great results. But though it helps you to trace an object perfectly it still is no guarantor for producing good drawings. In case of my drawing students it helped most of them to concentrate on line quality by not being forced to care too much about measuring and proportions. For skilled drawing artists I think it’s a booster…


Camera Lucida Session with my drawing pupils


Camera Lucida Session with my drawing pupils


Setup for my Menzel Drawing


To produce this drawing I really had to force myself to absolute concentration. It’s a portrait of Adolf Menzel, one of my favorite old master drawing artists, drawn with a soft, waxy Derwent Pencil. When drawing him I tried to keep in mind his characteristic powerful carpenter pencil style. Although I’m sure that the master would have hated it that I used a drawing aid…

Autor: Heidi Kull

Ich arbeite als freiberufliche Illustratorin und Animatorin in der Zeichnerei Kull, Berlin.

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