A Trick for Adding Filters

Proper lighting is key for making a good NeoLucida drawing. Subject too bright? The superimposed image will overpower the image of your hand. Subject underlit? Your paper will be all you see. But sometimes it’s not easy to change the lighting; perhaps you’re drawing a landscape and the sun is really bright on your scene. Since light levels don’t matter as much as light balance between your paper and your scene, you can just add some shades.

Historically, some camera lucidas included shading filters, like sunglasses for your prism:

Vintage Camera Lucida with Shades

You can easily add shades—or any type of filter—in just minutes, using a few simple items:

  • An inexpensive or disused pair of sunglasses (Note: you will break them, so don’t use your Dolce Gabbanas…)
  • Two (2) small binder clips

STEP 1: Pop one lens off your sunglasses. Unscrew the endcap from the NeoLucida eyepiece. Then unscrew the eyepiece from the gooseneck.

NL Binder Clip Filter Parts

STEP 2: Clip one binder clip on each side of the lens.

NL Binder Clip Filter Assembly 01

NL Binder Clip Filter Assembly 02

STEP 3: Insert one handle of one binder clip over the gooseneck threaded end.

STEP 4: Screw the NeoLucida eyepiece back onto the gooseneck. Place the other binder clip handle over the eyepiece end, and screw the end cap back on.

NL Binder Clip Filter Forward

If your page is too bright, point the shade down to be between the prism and your paper. If your subject is too bright, rotate the shade forward to be between your prism and your subject.

NL Binder Clip Filter Down

NOTE: Make sure the NeoLucida eyepiece is rotated into drawing position (Prism Shield should be 45º to the table) before tightening the screws.

This method can be used for any filter: shading, colored gels, or even magnifying lenses. Anything the binder clips can hold can become a filter for your NeoLucida.

ALTERNATE: A Homemade Variable Shading Filter

Do you need a little fine control over shading your paper or scene? Maybe your old sunglasses are too dark. Would you like to have variable control over shading? Then go to the movies. The 3D glasses you get when seeing a 3D movie are made of polarizing sheets. These lenses selectively block different parts of the screen to each eye and your brain interprets the differing information as 3D. But those lenses have a special property perfect for variable shading.

You’ll need:

  • One (1) pair of polarizing 3D glasses (keep yours after you see a 3D movie). NOTE: We’re NOT talking about those red-blue 3D glasses from comic books. 
  • Two (2) small binder clips.

STEP 1: Start with a pair of 3D glasses. The most common ones are the Real3D or IMAX glasses. The IMAX frames are some of the largest on the market, so they offer you more polarizing material to work with.

3D Glasses IMG_9569

STEP 2: Using scissors or an X-acto razor, cut out both lenses from the glasses (it should be fairly easy; most 3D glasses are made with thin plastic lenses). Trim the rough edges as necessary.

3D Glasses

STEP 3: The polarizing sheets are slightly shaded to begin with. But if you place one on top of another and rotate them, the mostly clear lens will go completely dark.

NOTE: This effect is dependent on pairing the correct sides of the lenses to each other. So if you try it and nothing happens, or they merely change from sepia to blue, flip one lens around and try again. It should look like this:


STEP 4: Repeat the steps in the Binder Clip Filter modification to attach the variable filter to your NeoLucida using binder clips. Reposition the sandwiched lenses to various angles to get the shading that works best.

NOTE: if you’ve used small 3D glasses, you may be limited to one binder clip to secure your filter.

Variable Shader 01

Variable Shader 02