Projectors for artists have become quite popular recently. They can be a helpful tool when you are painting on a wall or canvas, or can display your digital art for all to see.
Artist projectors come in all shapes and sizes. So regardless if you are still a beginning artist or a professional, there is always a suitable model available.
In this article, you will learn about the different projectors and how to choose amongst them.
Digital Projector Vs. Opaque Projector
When it comes to projectors you can choose between two different types: the digital projector and the opaque projector.
Opaque projectors started gaining popularity in the 19th century and can be used to enlarge pictures, illustrations, or drawings by placing them over a light source and redirection the light by using a mirror. Older people might remember the overhead projectors used in school to show slides, which is a great example of an opaque projector. One of the main disadvantages of these projectors is that you need a dark room for it to work.
For artists looking to buy a projector I would strongly recommend going with a digital model. These are the projectors you can find most commonly nowadays, which you can connect to a phone or computer. Moreover, good digital projectors even work in daylight and can be more portable.
Digital Projector For Art Vs. Projector For Drawing And Tracing
Projectors are used by artists for roughly two different reasons.
First of all, digital artist can use projectors to show high quality images of their art on a wall. In this case it will be similar to a home cinema projector. Connect your laptop, tablet, or phone with the projector by USB and start the show!
Some artists might prefer this over printing all their digital paintings, since the printing cost can be pretty steep if you don’t own an artist printer yourself.
Secondly, they can be used as a painting or drawing projector. If you are not familiar with projector painting, you simply project an image or photo you like on your canvas or wall such that you can trace the outline or paint on top right away.
This lets you produce high quality replicas of the original image, without using the grid method or transfer paper. Which is a huge help if you are into photorealistic painting. Depending on how far away you place the projector from the painting surface, you will be able to control the magnification of your image as well.
Although in both cases you are using a projector, the type of projector you will need is different. For example, if you are looking for the best projector for art, you will need a model that can show all the fine details of your work and produce vivid colours. But if you are looking for a projector for art tracing you might value the weight and portability more than the quality.
What To Look For In An Art Projector?
Regardless which projector you are going for, there are a few things you want to pay close attention to if you are looking to buy a new model.
Brightness – the brightness is the most important thing that will distinguish good and bad digital projectors for artists. It is measured in lumens and is a pretty good indicator of quality. If it only has a low brightness you will have to close all curtains and turn the lights of to see the image. If you want to use the projector during the day without worry too much about natural light, you should aim for a projector with at least 150 lumens. In general the higher the better.
Size – depending on your age you might still remember the big overhead projectors that were used in schools. Modern projectors can be made much smaller and produce much better images at the same time. Some of the smaller tracing projectors even fit into your pocket or purse. However, in general the smaller the size, the more you have to compromise on the quality. So most projectors used by digital artist to show their work is on the bigger size.
Connectivity – to set up the projector you will have to connect it to one of your devices so you will have to make sure that they are compatible. Fortunately most of the recent high quality projector come with pretty much all the port so connecting won’t be a problem. However, if you are using an older model or if you are using a small portable projector you will have to carefully check the port available.
Scale – depending on how far back you place the projector, you can magnify the image. However, every projector has a maximum distance you can place it. If you go past it, the projected image will become dark and blurry. However, this is only a problem for huge projects such as murals, and won’t be much of a worry for most people.
Top 5 Art Projectors
Even with the criteria mentioned above in mind it can be difficult to find a suitable projector all by yourself. Here is our list of top 5 best projectors for artists so you don’t need to go through endless amounts of review. Note that the list includes projector for both displaying artwork and tracing/drawing.
1. Artograph Flare150 Art Projector
You can’t really go wrong with any of the Artograph projectors, since they are clearly designed with the artist in mind. Especially the Flare150 is very popular because it strikes a great balance between quality and price.
The Flare150 has increase brightness and higher resolution compared to the Flare100, while at the same time costing a lot less than the Artograph Impression1400.
It comes with a tripod mount such that you adjust it to the right height needed. Additionally, it is great for projector drawing because it comes with built-in grids, and has the option to modify the image in a variety of ways such as flipping, rotating, changing to grayscale, crosshatching, etc. So you don’t have to worry if you don’t have any separate drawing software.
Brightness: 150 Lumens
Scale: 7” to 87”
Inputs: USB, HDMI, wireless with Android 4.2+
Weight: 1.1 lb (0.5 kg)
2. ViewSonic PX700HD
For artists looking to show their art using a projector, the ViewSonic PX700HD is a great option. Although this projector is originally designed to be used for home entertainment and gaming, it checks all the boxes to be a good projector for artwork.
With a high brightness of 3500 lumens it works without problems even during the day, both inside and outside. Since it can magnify images up to 300 inches diagonally while maintaining HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, all you have to do is find a screen or empty wall big enough.
And if you are done displaying your art, you can take it home and watch a good movie or play the latest game with it as well.
Brightness: 3500 Lumens
Scale: up to 300”
Inputs: HDMI, USB2.0 type A, Mini USB type B
Weights: 7.94 lb (3.6 kg)
3. Artograph Impression1400 Projector
The Impression1400 by Artograph is an art projector for professionals that like drawing or painting for a projector. It has a brightness up to 1400 lumens and can project up to 120”.
Just like the Flare150, this model also comes with 22 different grids and a variety of other image manipulation and color options that make it great for drawing.
However, the high price point makes it a lot less accessible for the casual creative. Especially since the upgrade in brightness and resolution compared to the Flare150 isn’t super important for tracing or drawing.
Brightness: 1400 Lumens
Scale: up to 120”
Inputs: HDMI, USB, RGB
Weights: 3.3 lb (1.5 kg)
4. ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector
The second ViewSonic on this list is the M1 portable projector. As the name suggests, this is the cheaper and more portable alternative to the PX700HD. At a fraction of the weight and size, this projector easily fits in your hand and can be carried in a bag.
But due to the lower price point, the projector doesn’t have the same performance as the PX700HD. The main trade off is that it only has 250 lumens, so on a bright day you might still have to close the curtains to get a clear visual. The smart stand attached to the projector lets you project at any angle you want at a resolution of 854x480p, and the battery is good enough to last 6 hours.
The Viewsonic M1 is mainly for artist that want to show their digital artwork but don’t have the option of using a higher quality projector that normally requires more time to set up.
Brightness: 250 Lumens
Inputs: HDMI 1.4, USB 3.1 Type C, USB 2.0 Type A
Weights: 1.52 lb (0.69 kg)
5. Artograph EZ Tracing Projector
If you are on a low budget but still looking for a small and portable art projector for tracing, then the Artograph EZ Tracer might be the right fit for you.
To project an image you simply place the EZ Tracer on top of your photo or printed artwork and the lens will magnify it up to 5 times the original size. Note that this is an opaque projector, so you will need a dark room for it to work and the resolution is maybe not the best either.
However, it does have some fans due to the cheap price, so we decided that it’s worth a mention on the list.
Brightness: 1600 lumens
Scale: up to 20”
Inputs: physical images (opaque projector)
Weight: 2.15 lb (0.98 kg)