Some artists have a self-imposed belief that using certain tools is “cheating”. They have attempted to convince themselves that working from photographs, tracing an image, utilizing a photocopier or other computer device is somehow less valid than creating art using nothing more than a brush and a good intention. Bah! I say. Historically, artists have always relied on various tools of the trade.
The Camera Lucida has been used by the Great Masters of fine arts since it was invented, by William Hyde Wollaston, in 1807. It is an optical device that uses mirror and semi-transparent mirror to reflect a “ghost” image of a scene down onto canvas or paper, so the reflected image can be drawn over directly.
Also string grids held in frames have been used to help artists accurately reproduce complex proportions. What it really comes down to is the fact that although anyone may use a tool, the real artistry comes in what you do with it. I use the comparison to a carpenter again. Just because you can swing a hammer doesn’t mean you can build a house. So go ahead, wield whatever tools work for you – and feel free to share some of them here.