document updated 25 days ago, on May 25, 2024

tracing an image using a digital phone camera

Artists have been using tracing for practically forever, from a camera lucida to doodle grids.

This specific technique is a little like a doodle grid, but it requires you to have your image-to-be-traced on your phone, and then for an app to overlay the desired image over what it sees through its camera. You look at the camera's screen while drawing, and use that to adjust your pencil strokes.

There are a number of apps for this:

Tips and tricks

1) I find there are two tricky parts to this: hovering your phone camera above your sketch paper, and then 2) finding a way to still have a clear view of the phone.

To position your phone's camera over the artwork, you can use a tripod with some kind of mobile-phone mount, or even this SmallRig accessory I bought.

To be able to still view the camera screen, use these instructions [2] to cast your Android phone's screen to a Windows laptop. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Another way — have the app and UI on Windows

If you have a real webcam, that's typically lighter than a cellphone, and easier to suspend. Then find some app on the laptop that will do the overlay. (TODO)