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Optical Magic

I saw this product on Facebook today call the Drawscope. It’s another optical device, like the Camera Lucida, so that interested me right away. I’ve got a Camera Lucida, and I’ve not used it much, but I plan to change that.

Anyway, I watched the Drawscope’s video, and you can trace an object you see nearby onto paper. OK, cool, I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Is it easier than drawing something the traditional way? Maybe, maybe not.

Then it hit me. This product is a shortened periscope laid on its side. Now feeling invested, I quickly grabbed two little mirrors and some cardboard and made a short periscope. At its core, periscopes are two mirrors facing each other, but at a parallel 45 degrees. It’s simple and effective.

This is where it got tough. I put the receiving end of the periscope against my left eye, and trained the other eye on a pair of scissors nearby. Then, through the power of binocular vision, I could see the scissors “projected” (?) onto the paper. I did a quick drawing, and then tried it on a few other items.

The hard part is training your eyes to focus both on the little mirror and the paper. Several times I found one image or the other would phase out, and I had to refocus. But, with a little practice, it works. I guess you could conclude there is a learning curve.

I’m sure the Drawscope is a fine piece of equipment–it’s already built, and it has a camera tripod mounted on the bottom. I don’t want to detract from their ingenious use of old technology. At $68 USD it’s a bit pricey for me.

Will I build a more finished version for my own use? Maybe. It’s fun to experiment with these ancient technologies.

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