How to Use the Camera Lucida App to Create Fantastic Drawings in No Time

Want to boost your drawing skills? The Camera Lucida app uses your phone or tablet to overlay an image on your drawing surface, making it easy to draw what you see.

It is a useful tool for artists who work with pencil, ink, paint or even icing for cake decorating. Use filters to adjust the reference image, mirror your display to create larger works of art, and easily shoot videos of your creative work in progress.

Here’s how to get the most out of the Camera Lucida app’s many features and discover new ways to experiment with a variety of visual aids.

Get started with the Camera Lucida app

Before diving, download the Camera Lucida app on your iOS device.

To download: Lucid Camera ($9.99)

To start using the basic settings of the Camera Lucida app, you will need a reference image. To choose an image, click either on the camera the icon to take a photo immediately or use the icon book Where cloud icon to find a photo in your library.

The bar The icon at the bottom right of the screen opens a menu you can use to adjust your photo’s brightness, contrast, saturation, and gamma. The circular arrow The icon rotates your image.

To effectively use the Camera Lucida app, set up your drawing space. Elevate your phone or tablet on books, blocks, or another sturdy surface. You can also use one of the best phone tripods for a longer term solution. To make sure everything stays in place, tape down your drawing surface or work from a sturdy notebook.

Adjust your image for Camera Lucida

Once your space is set up, adjust the image to fit your drawing surface. Use the circular arrow icon to rotate your image if needed. When you’re ready to draw, tap the center icon of a hand holding a pencilit locks your image in place.

From here you can set the slide to fade between your reference image and your drawing surface. Find a level of transparency that suits your project and start drawing.

Otherwise, press the up arrow in the lower right corner of the screen to configure the Flicker setting, which increases and decreases the transparency of your image at set intervals. This is a good option if you find yourself fiddling with the fade feature too much when trying to draw.


Plus, you can work from the original image or use predefined image selections to bring out different aspects of your subject. For example, choosing to grayscale or posterize an image can make it easier to trace. If you’re creating an ink drawing, for example, consider the black and white cartoon filter for a cool effect.

Play around with these settings until you find one that works for your project. You can always adjust the transparency of your image with a filter.

How to draw with Camera Lucida

When working with the Camera Lucida app, you look at the screen, not your paper, in order to draw your image. The process is different from using a projector or tracing from a separate sheet of paper, and it takes a bit of adjustment time.

One of the coolest parts of using this app is the ability to zoom in and work out the details. As long as the drawing mode is activated, you can move around the image and zoom without losing your place. This makes working on complicated parts of your image much easier.

Plus, with nothing blocking your drawing surface, it’s easy to use rulers, stencils, or any other tools when creating your sketch.

Plus, working with the Camera Lucida app offers a lot of creative control, because you decide what goes on paper or canvas. Consider the reference image as a starting point for your own creations. As the Camera Lucida Art Gallery shows, artists use the app for sketches, paintings, cookie decorating, and more.

You don’t need to be a skilled artist to use this app, but learning some drawing skills wouldn’t hurt.

Capture a video of your Camera Lucida drawing

To create a time-lapse video of your drawing progress in the app, tap the red circular REC in the upper right corner of the drawing screen. The video saves automatically and uploads to your Photos collection when complete.

It only saves your progress on the drawing surface and the application itself is not captured. You can adjust the playback quality and time scale by pressing the The arrow icon before recording.

How to Create Bigger Art with the Camera Lucida App

With its usual settings, the app can generally work to draw areas around 12-14 inches; beyond that, you need to make some adjustments to create large-scale designs. Here’s how to mirror the app to another device to work on a larger area, in this case, 16 x 20 inch watercolor paper.

To get started, set up your drawing space for Camera Lucida as usual. From the main screen, click on the top left corner Hamburger icon for a quick settings drop-down menu. Select the Maximize drawing size option.

Then you will need to use a screen mirroring option to view the app on a separate device. If you work within the Apple ecosystem, you can use Reflector. You can also mirror iPhone or iPad screen to Windows PC or other device with LonelyScreen. With some trial and error, you can probably mirror your tablet or phone to an additional laptop or tablet to use as a second screen.


Now for the interesting part: setting up your drawing space to work from the mirrored device. In this case, an iPhone running the Camera Lucida app sits on a table 22 inches above the large watercolor paper, which mirrors onto a laptop at eye level via the AirDroid app.

Working directly from the mirrored laptop screen involved a bit of lag, which sometimes made the tracing process a bit disorienting and more difficult than drawing while directly looking at the app on a phone. However, with a little practice it is also possible to produce a sketch with this process.

Create realistic drawings in minutes with the Camera Lucida app

If you’re looking to improve your drawing, painting, or decorating skills, the Camera Lucida app is just what you need. It’s an amazing tool for visual artists, and even without formal training, you can create realistic, impactful art in just minutes.

Setting up your space to use the app, especially for larger artworks, can take a bit of time and creative thinking, but that’s also part of the fun. Well worth a shot for amateurs and more established artists.