What is an Art Projector?

What we’re talking about here is a device that can project an image onto the wall, or a large canvas or piece of art paper (you can, with the right art projector, even shine through these last two!), so that you can trace or repaint that original image, use it as a guide for murals, decorations or other projects, or even just display your beautiful artwork – like in your studio, a gallery or even a potential client’s wall.

Art projectors range in size from pretty darned big to pocket sized, and there are also a huge range of prices. 

Some art projectors, called opaque projectors, will project a painted, drawn or printed image that’s on a piece of paper or canvas (or any other flat, opaque material), while others, known as digital projectors, use digital images, videos or anything else you can view on your phone, tablet or computer screen.

What Can You Use an Art Projector For?

Artists, being creative, find so many different uses for their art projectors, and some of the both common and not so common uses include:

  • Projecting an image or other guide onto a wall for painting a mural
  • Tracing or copying an image on a large scale
  • Displaying Art
  • Creating Multimedia Art Pieces and Installations
  • Making a Light Show
  • Displaying, or even working on, videos or animations
  • Cool mood lighting
  • Displaying photographs and running slide shows
  • Projecting slides, graphics and other images for meetings, sales presentations etc.

If you have a digital art projector you can also, of course, watch movies or videos, but only after your work is done!

What Different Kinds of Art Projectors Are There?

There are lots of different kinds of projectors, of course, and many have been around forever – for three rather old-school examples there’s the hot, noisy overhead projectors, the clunky and oft-jammed slide projector, or the movie projector, also usually hot and loud but with the added attraction of often spooling precious movie film across the classroom floor.

But here we’re going to the about two types of projectors which are most useful to artists:

  • Opaque Projector – this projector shines light onto a physical image – specifically a small (maybe 5-7 inches) and opaque piece of paper, canvas or fabric – and then shines that image onto the wall (or a canvas or larger piece of paper) using mirrors and prisms, so that you get a big projected enlargement of the original image to work on or with.
  • Digital Projector – the digital art projector uses, instead of a physically drawn, painted or printed image, a digital image or computer file instead, and projects that image onto the wall. This means you can also project movies or videos, although you might find that Game of Thrones was already plenty intense on your five inch phone screen.

Digital Projector vs Opaque Projector – Which Should you Get?

So, the natural question is which is better for an artist – a digital projector or an opaque projector? More specifically, we might want to ask?

  • What is the best type of projector for an artist?
  • What is the best type of projector for tracing?
  • What is the best type of projector for murals?
  • What is the best type of projector for displaying art?

Not long ago even halfway decent digital art projectors were pretty expensive, and while they were good they didn’t really shine like it seems they should have – performance, like brightness and sharpness, wasn’t amazing, and especially for the price. At that point, the opaque projector, with its (often, at least) much lower price, seemed a much better bet for artists.

But now digital projectors are cheaper, brighter and easier to use, and the premium models are frankly amazing, and for somebody who works almost exclusively in the digital realm (or somebody who can easily scan, photograph or otherwise digitize their paper or canvas creations) they really do make a lot more sense.

The opaque projectors are pretty cool, though – they work great, can still be quite a bit cheaper than digital projectors and are an absolute snap to use. Anyway, if you yourself are still pretty old-school, and working a lot, or even exclusively, on paper, canvas or other physical media, and you don’t want to scan or take digital pictures of your work, you will need to use an opaque projector.

And many artists have both, and love the option of easily projecting any image from their computer, cloud or the internet and, at other times, working from physical media with no need for conversion or other prep work.

What to Look For in a Projector for Art

We have already discussed whether you may want to get a digital projector or an opaque scanner, or both, which really is the first thing to establish. Once you’ve decided on that, you will find that either way – opaque projector or digital projector – you want to look for pretty much the same things:

LED Lights – It’s crazy, but some projectors still use incandescent lights, which are hotter, less color-neutral, less stable, worse on your eyes, use lots more energy and have only a fraction of the long, long life of the newest LED bulbs.

Brightness – You may think of projecting in a dark room, and may not be too fussed about how bright the projector is, but it’s nice to have the option of using your new projector in either a lit or darkened room. Anyway, brighter projectors will give you a lot more flexibility – including the option of not just projecting onto a canvas or art paper, but through the material.

Resolution – Lots of folk will say that for artwork the resolution of the projector doesn’t matter, but this is a little silly. Now this mostly applies to a digital projector, which will be projecting digital files, but you can easily see that the sharper projectors make your art or whatever original source image you are using much clearer, easier to work on or trace accurately.

Connectivity – This just applies to digital projectors, which will potentially have USB connectors, memory cards, cloud connectivity, wireless, Bluetooth, HDMI video inputs and other means of connecting.

Projection Screen Size and Throw – How large of an image are you going to want to project, and how far away from the wall will the projector be? This is an important factor, but rest assured that all the units I will recommend in this buyer’s guide to the best projectors for artists will project an image that’s plenty big, huge even, and will work in pretty much any sized room – if you aren’t working for National Parks and planning a presentation at the Grand Canyon, you will definitely be covered!


Content from artsideoflife.com Sep. 5 2021 

Best Art Projector for Tracing Artworks by Iva Mikles