What happens when two art professors revive an obsolete art technology? 

Learning to draw is frustrating. 

 

Even if you’re good at it, drawing can still be frustrating. Both the NeoLucida and the NeoLucida XL are simple technologies that may make learning to draw a little less discouraging, and perhaps a little less intimidating. As a modern reinterpretation of the camera lucida—a 19th century optical drawing aid—the NeoLucida is part of a rich history of drawing technologies aimed at helping people draw.

As someone who likes to draw, and has drawn consistently since I was little, I was surprised by how many people were drawn to (pun intended) these tools I make. Despite high resolution smartphone cameras in our pockets, people like to draw, and a lot of people have the desire to learn to draw.

So what is The NeoLucida Project all about?

  1. Reviving historical art technologies that help people draw, in order to:

  2. Demystify drawing and explore how people—past and present—learn to draw.

Drawing accurately from life is not a superhuman ability reserved for "gifted" artists. Armed with a little knowledge and a lot of practice, I believe anyone can learn to draw. Tools like the NeoLucida might help getting started a little less frustrating. 


Who’s behind this project? The original NeoLucida was created by art professors Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin, after long conversations about art and technology and history. NeoLucida is manufactured in partnership with Big Idea Design. In 2013, 11,406 Kickstarter backers made the original NeoLucida possible. In 2017, Pablo launched the completely redesigned NeoLucida XL, supported by 5,229 backers on Kickstarter.


The NeoLucida was named WINNER of the Best DIY Designs of the Year by CORE77!



 
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NeoLucida

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.

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NeoLucida XL

The NeoLucida XL is an update to the original prism NeoLucida. It works just like the NeoLucida: Look down into the eyepiece to see a ghost image of your subject on your paper. The NeoLucida XL uses mirror and glass to provide an extra-large viewing area. This makes the NeoLucida XL even easier to set up and start drawing.

Use the NeoLucida XL for portraits, landscapes, still-life, or image copying. Fold it up and store it in the custom pouch provided and take it on the road or to your studio.

The NeoLucida XL was launched in 2017 and was supported by 5,229 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 XL, a See-Through Camera Lucida

The NeoLucida XL is a “see-through” camera lucida design. The optical arrangement is a setup where you see straight through to your paper with a reflected ghost image of your subject superimposed.

In the NeoLucida XL, the angled glass is partially silvered, making it highly reflective but also maintaining enough transparency to see your paper. Instead of reflecting your subject, the partially-slivered glass reflects a mirror facing your subject. This double reflection (once at Number 1, then again at Number 2) means your ghost image is both right-side up and correct left-right.

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