The NeoLucida is an optical drawing aid that lets you trace what you see. It is a modern reinterpretation of the camera lucida, an indispensable tool popular in the days before photography was invented. How does it work? The NeoLucida prism acts like a beamsplitter; when you look down into the eyepiece, you see a ghost image of your subject on your paper. You can also see your hand, so you can trace from real life.

The NeoLucida is inspired by a long history of optical drawing tools, modernized using 21st century manufacturing and materials. Instead of a complicated tool with delicate, finicky parts, the NeoLucida is simple to set up and robust enough to toss in your bag for artists and designers on the go!

The NeoLucida was launched in 2013 and was supported by 11,406 backers on Kickstarter.

Want to learn more about the camera lucida? Check out our History section for more.

We know learning to draw is hard. Click here to learn more about why, and how NeoLucida might help.

Ready to buy? Click below to purchase from Big Idea Design, the authorized seller for all things NeoLucida.

How It Works: NeoLucida, a Split-Pupil Camera Lucida

The NeoLucida uses a prism to split your vision between a view of your paper and a view of your subject. There have been different prism configurations over time, but each split-pupil prism design works the same way:

  • When you place your eye close to the edge of the prism, the lower part of your view sees the paper. The upper part of your view looks into the prism. Your brain superimposes the two images into the appearance of a ghost image of your subject onto your paper.

  • The combination of internal reflections and optical refraction provides the double reflection to make the image on your paper right-side up and correct left-right.

NL Prism Diagram 2400px.jpg