Camera Lucida: The iPhone App for Artists

iPhone App Screenshot

About the Author

Who's this Pete guy, anyway?

I'm Pete Moeykens, a software engineer who happens to love to draw. Recently I started looking into purchasing a camera lucida, partly because I wanted a way to ensure I was drawing objects properly, and partly because they're just so cool. I found several excellent models for sale on the Internet, but they were all a bit pricey for me. So, instead I started to browse through optical supply houses looking for parts to build my own. A bit of silvered glass here, a primary lens there; I even started to tear apart old polaroid cameras in order to get to their juicy optical insides.

Then it struck me: I could use my iPhone or iPad's camera and LCD screen as a substitute for all that low-tech optical junk I was collecting! Next came my first prototype, followed by version 1 of Camera Lucida! And, hey, at only $4.99 it's cheaper than a used polaroid camera at a yard sale!

See the iPhone App in Action

The Traditional Camera Lucida

The camera lucida is small device minimally consisting of a half-silvered mirror that has been around for centuries. When properly used, it allows an artist to see a transparent view of what is in front of him superimposed on his drawing surface.

It has been speculated than many great painters of the past have used devices such as this to create their masterpieces.

Traditional Camera Lucida In Use

David Hockney, The Lost Secrets of the Old Masters: Camera Lucida Obscura


Camera Lucida History (Wikipedia link)

Camera Lucida Shop