Les Cookson and Ken Higginson are keeping the KickStarter / Camera Lucida momentum going strong!  

If you’re not aware of their current product, you should definitely check out

Their take on a Camera Lucida consists of a sturdy table mounted arm that holds the optical bits firmly in place while you draw.  I don’t own one of their LUCID-Art camera lucidas, but my guess is that their employment of mirrors and other beam splitter technologies provides for a much larger view area than prism based camera lucidas.  This will almost certainly make the drawing process more efficient and comfortable.

What I like about their latest KickStarter effort is that they’re adding a gooseneck mount for your mobile device so that you can draw what is seen on your smart phone.  Anyone who owns this can, of course, also use the mount with my app.  These two technologies *should* be complimentary!

I wish these guys the best of luck.  If you own a LUCID-Art camera lucida, please don’t hesitate to post your thoughts on it!  


Version 8.0 is in final testing!

I’ll make this quick:  Version 8.0 represents the largest update I’ve ever made.  Among a dozen other updates, you can now record your art being created as you draw it!  This is going to be great!


Yay!  Time Lapse Screen Capture Demos!

More often than not the software that I create is a direct response to a problem I’m trying to solve.  In this case I was thinking about a way to solve the problem of creating demo videos.  I could never get the lighting correct or the camera to be placed just right.  So, why not let the app itself make the recording?

Well, as it turns out it’s not that easy!  Using the camera while overlaying processed imagery and then capturing the combination of the two is tricky.  I could capture what the camera was seeing easily enough.  But, rendering the non-camera portion of the view along with it was a lot harder.  And then, actually recording the zoomed and panned portion was even tougher.  In the end, the horse-power required of the CPU wasn’t enough to record at the full 24 frames per second I wanted for smooth video.  Even after “refactoring” my code I was only able to get a measly 5 frames per second while recording.

So, life was giving me lemons and I was determined to make lemonade.  Who wants to watch an hour long video of someone using the app anyway?  What people really want to see if the app in fast forward!  So, 5 frames per second was plenty fast for that!  The results are, well, just plain super fun to watch.  Probably even more fun if you’re watching someone who’s an amazing artist!

I have more work to do before I can release this, but if you’re interested in helping me beta test it, I’ll be at that point soon.  Just send me an email at

I’m really hoping that if I release this, people will use it, post their videos and we’ll start to see how much style, technique and other personal factors make the results unique to the artists; not just some carbon copy of the image.

NeoLucida Arrived! NeoLucida Review - Or not?

Yesterday, November 26th, 2013, I received my NeoLucida in the mail.  Pablo and Golan have done an amazing job of creating a brand new product and having it arrive early.  Not sure what a NeoLucida is, or who Pablo and Golan are?  Check out: The NeoLucida

Besides being a big fan of camel casing, I, like Pablo and Golan have a love of all things optical.  Having written the Camera Lucida iphone app, I just also HAD to get in on the NeoLucida Kickstarter project from the very beginning.

At this point I’d love to do a review of their Camera Lucida, but since I’m most likely biased, I’m going to take a different approach.  I’m sure that someone reading this has also ordered or already received a NeoLucida.  If you contact me via email at, I’ll send you an iTunes redeem code to get the app for free if you’d like to do a comparison yourself.  Just be one of the first 10 people to respond!  I’ll update this post if I get too many volunteers.  (Update:  Dec 20th, I handed out about 20 codes to folks.  I hope you enjoyed it!)

While I’m not going to do a review, I would like to offer my first impressions!  So, here goes:

Packaging & Presentation:

My NeoLucida arrived in a classy white box with high quality graphics.  Unboxing the NeoLucida I was reminded of Apple products where quite a bit of thought goes into making a great first impression.  Honestly, “impeccable” is the only word that does this product’s quality of packaging and delivery justice.  From the individually packaged prisms to the branded drawing pencil and carry case, the NeoLucida made me really feel like I had gotten quite a bargin.  I don’t exactly recall the name of the funding level I selected, but I believe it was the $47 package.  This came with the two extra prisms in case I want to build my own or have spares.




Using the NeoLucida

As Pablo and Golan have pointed out in several of their email updates; as well as multiple times in their instructions, “look straight down”!  Setting up the NeoLucida so that it was clamped to my table took about 10 seconds.  I set up an old typewriter in front of it, adjusted the prism at the proper 45 degree angle and took my first look.

The prism is small, but finding the overlaid image was easy to do and within just a few brief moments I found myself adjusting focus and viewing angle to optimize the presentation of both the drawing surface and my still-life typewriter in front of me.  Here are a couple of photos of the device in use.  Getting a good shot of what it looks like to look through the prism is tough, to say the least, but I tried anyway!



Ok, so that bottom picture leaves a lot to be desired.  ;)

After I had set up the NeoLucida, I used it to make some drawings.  At this point, I’d love to hear from others on this topic, so I think I’ll open this post to public comments.

Last word:  Congratulations, Pablo and Golan!  Well executed!


For the first time ever, I’ll be putting Camera Lucida on sale!

"But, Peter!", you say.  "Didn’t you put the app up for free for a day this summer?"

Well, that’s true, but that was unannounced and I thought only maybe a dozen people or so would know about it.  (Boy, was I wrong!)

This sale will reduce the price from $4.99 to $2.99.  At $3, I’m hoping that people who might have been on the fence about buying the app will be willing to give it a shot.   I can’t promise how long I’ll keep it on sale, so if you’ve been thinking about playing with Camera Lucida technology, today is the day to buy!


Camera Lucida 7.0 Video Introductory Tutorial #1

I’ve just posted my first real “how to” video for Camera Lucida.

If you’re new to Camera Lucida and interested in how it works, check out this video!  -Pete

Camera Lucida is FREE for a very limited time today

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia is showing off some classic (and modern) camera lucida technology.  In support of this event, I have set the price for Camera Lucida to FREE for July 26th, 2013 only. 

Best wishes to everyone at the MCA!

"Camera Lucida" in the news again!

The NeoLucida Sparks New Interest In The Camera Lucida

Update:  Saturday, May 11th

Due to popular demand, the NeoLucida team has created a second production run. I signed up for one yesterday and am looking forward to trying it out in December when units are shipped. 

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance that you just read about the Kickstarter funded project, NeoLucida.

A camera lucida is a clever and elegant device.  It allows an artist to reach a level of detail and perfection that traditionally requires years of practice; or at least some tremendous natural talent!

How The NewLucida Compares To The Camera Lucida App

The NeoLucida, like all traditional camera lucidas, works by superimposing two lives views; the one in front of you and the one with the paper you’re drawing on.  The Camera Lucida App makes use of your iPhone’s camera to essentially do the same thing.  When I created the app, I did it because I wanted the functionality of a camera lucida without the price.  The biggest functional difference is that my iPhone/iPad app superimposes a photo with your live drawing view.  Thus, you’re working off a still of your subject rather than a live view.  This has its advantages and disadvantages, but in my opinion I prefer my subject to not change as the day’s lighting changes or the model becomes fatigued. 

That’s Where The Similarities End

When I first released Camera Lucida (the app) several years ago, its functionality was quite basic.  But now I’m up to version 6.0 and it’s light years from that first version.  Here’s a short list of why my 21st century Camera Lucida App leaves a traditional analog camera lucida firmly in the 19th century:

  1. The price, at $5, is a fraction of the cost of a traditional device.
  2. The ability to work off a static image allows you to pause your drawing and to continue at any time.
  3. The ability to zoom and crop your image gives you more artistic freedom.
  4. The screen of the iPhone or iPad is many times the size of a small prism or mirror and its view doesn’t change depending upon the position of your head.
  5. The amount of transparency between your subject and your drawing surface is completely adjustable.
  6. The digital zoom features allow you to zoom in on both your drawing surface and the subject; up to 30x.  Once zoomed in, you can pan around your image and drawing surface as you like.
  7. The app comes loaded with image processing functions designed with the artist in mind.  For example, my app allows you to break an image down into shades of grey and work on just one shade at a time.  There are over a dozen artistic filters you can apply aimed at everyone from sketch artists to water colorists.

The Takeaway

The NeoLucida certainly seems like a great little camera lucida.  I think their design team has done a great job of producing a modern version of the classic camera lucida.

But, if you’re looking for a modern version of a camera lucida, you owe it to yourself to find out why thousands of people have already discovered my little 5 star iPhone/iPad app.

The cheapest, simplest and best Camera Lucida stand

This is it.  The number one hurdle to overcome when using the Camera Lucida iPhone app.  “How do I hold my iPhone over my drawing?”

Here is my simple recipe for putting together a cheap, sturdy and portable stand for your iPhone or iPad.  Let’s do it!



1 12x18 inch pre-finished shelf. This will be your base.  A couple of bucks at Home Depot or your local hardware store.

1 Small block of wood; I used a scrap piece of shelf.  This will be your platform.

6 1/2 inch screws.

2 Lamp pipe flanges.  I used:

1 Lamp pipe.  Or, grab a couple of different lengths.  14 inches is handy.  I used


The build is very simple.  The only trick is to fight the urge to center your stand, because your device’s camera isn’t in the middle of your device.  If you’re going to use an iPad, then screw the flange off to one side.  You can see that the platform isn’t centered in the final picture.  But, because we’re using a threaded pipe, the final platform will spin and give you lots of flexibility for positioning your device.

To begin, just screw one flange to the platform.  Center it lengthwise and move it in from the side about an inch.  Then, screw the other flange to the base, again keeping it to one end of the board and offset from the center.

Then, you just screw the pieces onto the pipe.  The longer the pipe, the bigger your final drawing will be.

Here’s the final results.  Notice I have two flanges on mine, one that’s centered and one that’s offset?  That’s a mistake because I didn’t read that paragraph above that says “don’t center the flange on the board because the camera isn’t in the center of your device.”  ;) 

I’m lucky to have a big roll of self-adhesive backed velvet.  Yes, they make such a thing!  I like to dress up the platform with it because it helps to prevent sliding and looks cool.  But, it’s completely optional.

There you have it, an insanely simple, cheap and practical stand.  You can make it for under $10!  Enjoy! 

The new iPad is out!

Better rear camera, better screen!  Wow, it’s almost like Apple has been using my app and said, “I wonder how we can make Camera Lucida even better!”

Like many people, I kept hitting the “buy” button as soon as the new iPad (it’s not an iPad 3) came on sale.  I received mine promptly on March 16th as promised and waited for a quiet moment for the unpacking.  Basically, everything that people are saying about it is true:  It’s a little heavier and a little thicker.  I noticed.  And, it’s screen is gorgeous.  Lots of people don’t even think about testing for light leaking, but I just had to grab a 100% black background and check for light leaks.  It’s much improved over my iPad 2.

Oh, and the pixels.  So many lovely little dots to light up!  The camera is said to be the same as the iPhone 4 (not the iPhone 4S).  It’s really quite good.  With good lighting, like when outdoors, 1080p video really looks great.  Honestly, I’m glad I “had” to buy one in order to test Camera Lucida. 

On the down side, I’m noticing that this new iPad gets warm quickly.  A quick Google search shows that I’m not the only one with a new hand warmer.  Also, the camera seems to be auto-focus happy.  That last point isn’t so great when your iPad is hovering over a drawing and the camera decides to take a break and auto-focus.  Honestly, I can’t find any documentation on what makes the iPad’s camera decide to try and focus.  But, a couple of lines of software added to Camera Lucida and I now have a “Focus and Lock” feature that I’ll be releasing soon.

The Focus and Lock feature will allow the camera to focus once and then you can forget about it.  I’m also taking this opportunity to add a few other features that customers have asked for; like reversing the image for people who need to great a mirror image.

If you have any ideas and you’d like me to slip some functionality into this upcoming release, let me know!