Opaque Projectors and Art

Opaque Projectors and ArtOpaque Projectors and Art

Between my mother who was a teacher and my artist father we always had an opaque projector in the house. When we were very young, my brother and sister and I used it to draw our favorite cartoon images and characters from picture books. Then my sister had a bright idea: she started using it to “recreate” family photographs. People were astounded by her talent. My brother and I, jealous of the attention she got, teased her and told her she was a cheat! Cheating or not, by using the opaque projector she was learning the art of shading, figure drawing and proportion. She used that old opaque projector to practice and perfect her skills. Today she is a successful children’s book illustrator.

Artists have long used opaque projectors to quickly lay down outlines for painting on canvas and in mural design. In fact, in 1490, Leonardo da Vinci wrote one of the first detailed descriptions of the camera obscura and explained its use in art. The camera obscura eventually evolved into the opaque projector. Opaque projectors aid the developing artist by guiding their sketching efforts. For the professional artist, they are a means of laying down quick outlines and sketches so that the real magic—the paint mixing and application—can begin.

Opaque projectors come in all shapes, sizes, types and costs. When purchasing an art projector you need to consider your specific needs and limitations. Asking the following questions will help determine what is right for you:

• Cost—how much am I willing to spend?
• Function—do I want to enlarge, reduce, or both? To what size(s)?
• Working conditions—do I need it to be portable or stationary? What are my lighting conditions (windows, etc.)? What are my size limitations (working space)?
• Flexibility—do I want the image projected onto a tabletop, canvas, easel, wall—all of the above?

The Kopykake projector found here: Kwik-Draw KD200, is an excellent choice for beginner or professional. This type of projector attaches to a tripod for surface transfer flexibility and also functions in a varying degrees of light.