Best Art Projector for Tracing Artworks in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 03, 2022 •  Guides

Many artists have considered getting an art projector for their artwork, but have found that they’re just too expensive, are inconvenient to use, or don’t work well.

There is great news, though – quite recently, even in the last few years, the best art projectors for artists have gotten much better, easier to use, and less expensive! Let’s have a look at which one you should get.

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Top 4 Art Projectors Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite art projectors for tracing artworks. Find more picks in the overview below, including digital and opaque art projectors.

My Pick
Multi-use Pick
Value Pick
Opaque Pick
Description:

Best Art Projector Overall; Best Projector Designed Specifically for Artists

Keystone Control; 12 Grid Patterns; Multiple Input and Output Options; Bright LED Light; Rechargeable with a Wall Plug

Description:

Best Multi-Use Projector for Artists

For Art, Movies, Gaming & Sports - Dynamic Iris - 3000 Lumens - 3D

Description:

Best Value Art Projector for Artists

120Hz Refresh Rate | 4000 lumens | Fast 8.4ms Response time with 120Hz | Easy Setup with 1.3X Zoom | 4K Input | Quiet Operation 26dB

Description:

Best tracing opaque projector

Designed Especially for Artists; Super-Easy to Use

Not digital

My Pick
Description:

Best Art Projector Overall; Best Projector Designed Specifically for Artists

Keystone Control; 12 Grid Patterns; Multiple Input and Output Options; Bright LED Light; Rechargeable with a Wall Plug

Multi-use Pick
Description:

Best Multi-Use Projector for Artists

For Art, Movies, Gaming & Sports - Dynamic Iris - 3000 Lumens - 3D

Value Pick
Description:

Best Value Art Projector for Artists

120Hz Refresh Rate | 4000 lumens | Fast 8.4ms Response time with 120Hz | Easy Setup with 1.3X Zoom | 4K Input | Quiet Operation 26dB

Opaque Pick
Description:

Best tracing opaque projector

Designed Especially for Artists; Super-Easy to Use

Not digital

Table of Contents

Artograph Digital Art Projectors are Back

My main motivation for this guide was to showcase the amazing Artograph art projectors – the only serious projectors made specifically for artists and their needs, and the first choice of commercial and fine artists, art students, crafters, and lots and lots of creative types of all kinds.

So imagine my disappointment when I found that the brilliant Artograph digital projectors were no longer available! Their simple and inexpensive opaque projectors were still being sold – as were their wonderful light boxes, Lightpads, and Futura light table – but the high-end digital art projectors, which artists love and swear by, were not.

I continued writing the guide, admittedly somewhat defeated. To be fair, there are some amazing – if often hyper-expensive – digital home-theater-type projectors which, while not designed specifically for artists (like the Artographs are), will somewhat meet their needs.

But now, Artograph digital art projectors are BACK!

Artograph returned with the best Artograph digital projector ever – the Flare 450. With bright, neutral, and revealing light, keystone correction, a dozen built-in grid patterns, and more, the Flare 450 immediately becomes my choice for the Best Digital Art Projector for Artists.

My Pick
Artograph Flare 450 Digital Art Projector

Best Art Projector Overall; Best Projector Designed Specifically for Artists

Keystone Control; 12 Grid Patterns; Multiple Input and Output Options; Bright LED Light; Rechargeable with a Wall Plug

Get it on Amazon

So, heartened by the unexpected and delightful return of Artograph digital projectors, I’ve updated this article (and may very soon update my art studio!). Now let’s get back into discussing and discovering the best projectors on the market today for artists, crafters, and other creative people.

Overview: Best Digital and Opaque Projectors for Artists in 2022

I am going to draw upon my own experience and the feedback I have gotten from colleagues, students, and other artists and narrow down the choices to the siz best art projectors on the market today:

Best Digital Projectors for Artists

Artograph Flare 450 Digital Art Projector

My Pick
Artograph Flare 450 Digital Art Projector

Best Art Projector Overall; Best Projector Designed Specifically for Artists

Keystone Control; 12 Grid Patterns; Multiple Input and Output Options; Bright LED Light; Rechargeable with a Wall Plug

Get it on Amazon

The digital projectors listed below are generally far more expensive than this Artograph Flare 450. They are great choices for somebody who wants to have a premium digital projector for art and other uses – like watching movies, for example.

But if you are a serious commercial or fine artist (or even if you’re not that serious), an art student, a crafter, a designer or interior decorator, and you want to get the best digital art projector on the market today, specifically for projecting, copying and creating art, the Flare 450 is it.

The Artograph Flare 450 is a small (only 6 inches wide!) and light digital projector with a bright LED light source, a rechargeable battery, and a wall plug. It is perfect for both portable and dedicated art studio use.

With built-in vertical keystone adjustment (to keep the image square, even if the projector isn’t), 12 built-in grid patterns, a precise and smooth focus wheel, high resolution, and plenty of brightness – even for working with the room’s lights on – the Flare 450 offers everything an artist could want or need.

In addition, the 450 has tons of digital input options and audio input. Output supports five different graphics formats, has high resolution and high contrast, and throws an image that will not only go as big as 10 feet (over 300 centimeters) but as small as 10 inches (something not always designed for multi-use projectors).

So the performance, features, and image quality are all wonderful. It is possible that’s why Artograph projectors have always been so popular with artists – and why the Flare 450 is sure to continue this tradition – is the premium fit and finish, as well as the intuitive and nicely thought-out controls and interface.

The Flare 450 is well built and intelligently designed digital projector. Like its predecessors, it appeals strongly to our creatives who want our tools to work well without interrupting our flow.

That said, the initial learning curve is a bit sharp if there is any downside to the Artograph Flare 450.

Once you get the hang of it, the machine works simply, easily, and beautifully, but the initial details – file types, device connection – take some work.

Remember that third-party cables (that is, those not made by Apple, Samsung, or other original computer/phone manufacturers) are not recommended by Artograph and usually won’t work. 

But yeah, really, that’s it. The Artograph Flare 450 is a wonderfully small, light, and portable digital art projector which works beautifully for copying art, making murals, displaying your finished pieces or as a part of an art installation – really for a million things.

The 450 has the same premium look, feel and build quality we have come to expect from Artograph products, and the same intuitive controls and user interface, and – even though it is a thousand dollars less expensive than my next recommendation – it is easily the best digital projector for artists today.

BenQ TK850 True 4K HDR-Pro Digital Projector

Best Art Projector
BenQ True 4K HDR-PRO Projector

Best Multi-Use Projector for Artists

For Art, Movies, Gaming & Sports - Dynamic Iris - 3000 Lumens - 3D

Get it on Amazon

Ok, I admit it – while I’m not so much of a materialistic person and have never had a real “keep up with the Joneses” attitude, I recently discovered the Samsung “The Premiere” digital projector, which costs a “cool” 6,500 dollars (o_O), and I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t even watch movies that much, but somehow I want one.

That said, it is probably a bit too much for artists who want to project an image onto the wall, for tracing, painting murals, displaying art or any other reason – unless the wall was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I guess.

A much better choice is the BenQ TK850 digital projector, which for under a quarter of Samsung’s price (!), offers superb full 4K resolution, perfectly projected to full effect using their magnificent 10-element crystal glass lens. Add extraordinary levels of brightness and contrast and superb, factory-calibrated color fidelity to this stunning sharpness.

You start to get an idea of how accurately and beautifully the TK850 will display any work of art.

Still, based on descriptions and specifications, even a good idea will never prepare you for the stunning reality, beautiful projected artwork, and how easy this projector makes it to work on and complete even the most complex and demanding images.

If you need to copy or reproduce high-quality fine art or extremely detailed art or graphics with absolute precision, whether huge or small, inside or outside, in a dark or well-lit room, against a wall or through a canvas, and work with the utmost precision, ease, accuracy, and even inspiration, this BenQ digital projector is the answer.

If you are setting up an art or multi-media installation, especially in a higher-level gallery or museum, or any venue where image quality is of the highest importance, the TK850 is, again, the perfect choice.

BenQ TK850 ticks all the boxes and is my choice for the best multi-use digital projector for artists overall on the market today.

Optoma HD39HDR High Brightness HDR Home Theater Projector

Great value
Optoma High Brightness HDR Projector

Great Value Art Projector

120Hz Refresh Rate | 4000 lumens | Fast 8.4ms Response time with 120Hz | Easy Setup with 1.3X Zoom | 4K Input | Quiet Operation 26dB

Get it on Amazon

One of the most popular and highly rated mid-priced home theater projectors today, the Optoma HD39HDR High Brightness digital projector is a brilliant choice for the most demanding work and the most demanding artist – and at less than 800 dollars, it is a substantial value.

Optoma is still less than 20 years old but is fast becoming a real leader in the digital projector market – top of the field in technology, design and engineering, material quality and reliability, and social and environmental awareness.

Their products have superb image quality and accuracy – brightness and contrast, color fidelity, range and energy, incredible detail, depth and sharpness, and unsurpassed edge-to-edge precision in alignment and geometry.

And the Optoma HD39HDR is the perfect example, offering the performance you would expect from a much more expensive digital projector, including 2K full HD resolution, incredibly accurate, rich and saturated colors, 50,000:1 contrast ratio, and superb accuracy in image geometry, and can be installed as an overhead projector as well.

For precise, highly detailed painting, drawing, or copying work from a projected original image onto a wall or work surface, the HD39HDR is unsurpassed in its price range.

The full 4,000 lumens of brightness make projecting with bright, crisp colors and full detail possible – even in a bright room or projected through a canvas or even heavier drawing paper.

Even though this projector doesn’t have quite the resolution of the BenQ reviewed just above on our list of best digital projectors for artists, I can’t describe just how breathtakingly beautiful and detailed its projection is. How truly accurate the colors are, and how impactful and usable the image is.

For any kind of work, even for the most demanding fine art installations or displays, and for movies, videos, and other “non-art” uses, this is a fantastic unit and an easy choice for the best mid-priced digital project for artists.

Epson VS260 XGA 3 Chip 3 LCD Digital Projector

Affordable
Epson 3LCD XGA Projector

Affordable Digital Projector for Artists

3,300 Lumens Color Brightness, 3,300 Lumens White Brightness, HDMI, Built-in Speaker, 15,000:1 Contrast Ratio, Small

Get it on Amazon

Now we’re getting into the silly-inexpensive range with the Epson VS260 digital projector, which, for only around 300 dollars, can still be considered a premium unit and is ideal for artists and their needs.

Indeed, while the first two recommendations in our survey of best art projectors today perform better and have extraordinarily beautiful, bright, and usable projected images, the Epson VS260 is not that far behind and at a fraction of the price.

The Epson XS260 digital projector has great brightness, at 3,300 lumens, which means it will not only work in a well-lit room or even outside, but can even penetrate a canvas or thicker art paper from behind, with a bright, easily usable image, so you can work without the distraction and annoyance of having light beaming into your eye, or blocking the image with your body or hand while you’re trying to work.

The XS260 also has XVGA high-resolution graphics, which, while not as sharp as full 2K or 4K HD projectors, provide more than enough resolution for the most complex images and the finest detail, even with bigger enlargement, and an amazing 15,000:1 contrast ratio for exceptionally beautiful, visible and usable images.

But the great thing about the Epson XS260 is the true 3-chip, 3 LCD color system, which is just an artist’s dream. This system provides extraordinarily high levels of color fidelity and brightness, consistent and fully stable colors throughout the spectrum and your work sessions, and no rainbow effects, color shifts, or other problems.

The Epson XS260 has a tripod mount, pretty essential for the most accurate work, a wide range of connectivity options and compatibility with Apple, Windows PCs, and Android phones and tablets, and a maximum image size over ten feet wide without image degradation (even larger with some blurring, especially at the edges).

Exceptional for such an inexpensive projector is Epson’s marvelous skew correction circuitry, which detects and corrects incorrect keystones, and allows you to use this projector off-center in smaller spaces.

In all the ways most important to artists, the Epson XS260 digital projector is a real gift – with sharp, bright, amazing colors and contrast, it is a near-perfect digital projector for anybody doing mural work, tracing or copying, displaying art, or even as a component of an advanced multi-media art installation – easily the best budget art projector on the market today!

Best Opaque Projectors for Artists

We’re going to make this section simple – all of the best opaque projectors on the market are made by one company – Artograph. Yes, some super-cheap projectors are out there, from generic brands to unknown, unestablished companies. They aren’t that much cheaper than the wonderful Artograph products, and I wouldn’t even consider them.

While there are four basic models in the Artograph line, and they all could get enthusiastic recommendations as the best opaque projector for artists, the two opening models – the Tracer and the EZ Tracer – work so well, and are such great values, that we will focus on them.

Artograph Tracer Opaque Art Projector for Wall or Canvas

Opaque
Artograph Tracer Opaque Projector for Wall or Canvas Reproduction

Best tracing opaque projector

Designed Especially for Artists; Super-Easy to Use

Not digital

Get it on Amazon

For well under a hundred dollars, the Artograph Tracer is a premium opaque art projector with sharp, color-neutral optics and a projected image that is clear, undistorted, and up to 14 times the original size.

As is usual with a basic opaque projector, the Artograph Tracer works with only small original images, no larger than 5 by 5 inches. The original image needs to be flat and printed on opaque material, and you simply place the Tracer on top of it.

The projector will beam an image of up to 70 square inches (almost 6 square feet) with accurate and undistorted geometry, true colors, and crisp, clear detail. You can make larger projections by moving the Tracer farther from the wall, but you will lose some sharpness and brightness.

With up to 1,600 lumens of illumination, the Artograph Tracer may not be as bright as the much more expensive digital projectors above.

As such has some limitations compared to them – you must work in a dark room, and this little guy is just not strong enough to shine through canvas or thicker drawing paper.

The image is bright, clear, colorful, and extremely easy to trace or copy in the right conditions.

Well built and reliable, from a company that knows artists and their needs, the Artograph Tracer works great, is well designed and well built, and is my clear choice for the best opaque projector for artists overall – not to mention an incredibly useful tool to have on hand!

Artograph EZ Tracer Opaque Art Projector for Wall or Canvas

Affordable
Artograph EZ Tracer Opaque Projector for Wall or Canvas Image Reproduction

Budget tracing opaque projector

Designed Especially for Artists; Super-Easy to Use

Not digital

Get it on Amazon

At a substantially lower price than its bigger brother, the Artograph EZ Tracer comes very close in performance, usability, and maybe even a better value overall.

The EZ Tracer has a smaller lens, which somewhat limits the largest projection screen size you can make – 50 square inches with full brightness and clarity, as opposed to 70 square inches with the more expensive Tracer above.

Still, the lens is extremely sharp and undistorted, allowing for super high image quality – sharp and detailed, square and even, and with excellent color fidelity.

The EZ Tracer does have the same brightness as the Tracer, though, 1600 lumens, and in the right conditions can cast a very usable enlarged image onto a wall, canvas, or art paper – even through lighter, thinner drawing paper.

Extremely simple in operation, quiet and cool running, and built to the typically high standards of all Artograph products, the EZ Tracer is my recommendation for the best budget opaque projector for artists.

How to Get the Best Results from an Art Projector

While there is very little to using an art projector – pretty much either open your digital file or lay down your opaque image, turn it on and trace away – there are still a few things you can do to make sure you are getting the best performance and results and to make your work easier and more effective.

Make sure the projector doesn’t get moved when you’re working

Even the tiniest shift when you’re in the middle of tracing or, even worse, painting a mural onto a wall can be disastrous!

Use a good, solid tripod instead of a table

Not only for stability but for precise adjustability of height and angles. I would recommend the Anker Nebula Capsule Series Adjustable Tripod.

Anker Nebula Adjustable Tripod Stand

Compact, Aluminum Alloy Portable Projector Stand for Capsule, Capsule Max, and Capsule II with Universal Mount and Swivel Ball Head


Get it on Amazon

Use projection grids

Ensure your projector is positioned correctly and your projected image is square and true.

When possible, dim the lights

Even though digital projectors, in particular, are super-bright, you may find that your projected image is clearer, has brighter colors, and is easier to see and easier to paint or trace with slightly dimmer ambient light.

You still need enough light to see your supplies and paints and what you’re doing, of course, and to make sure you don’t trip over the tripod or any cables or step on any cats.

Project through the material instead of onto it

If you are using canvas or paper and a digital projector, try projecting through the material instead of onto it – you might find that not blocking or getting blinded by the projector’s light beams makes things easier and more relaxed and lets you focus more on the work.

Try projecting in different colors

If you are drawing a black and white image, try projecting in different colors – depending on the wall or material you are beaming onto or through, the quality of ambient light, and even to some extent, the original image, different colors might make things clearer, more contrasty and easier to see.

Remember the size

Remember that you are working on a larger image than you might normally – this means potentially more physical movement, often in extended and long-held positions, and also longer overall working time until completion, so make sure you stretch, take breaks, monitor your energy and concentration, and don’t work too long in a single session.

What Different Kinds of Art Projectors Are There?

There are lots of different kinds of projectors.

Many have been around forever – for three rather old-school examples there are 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

The opaque 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 or computer file 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?

Not long ago, even halfway decent digital art projectors were pretty expensive. While they were good, they didn’t shine like they seemed they should have – performance, like brightness and sharpness, wasn’t amazing, especially for the price.

At that point, the opaque projector seemed a much better bet for artists with its (often, at least) much lower price.

But now, digital projectors are cheaper, brighter, and easier to use, and the premium models are amazing.

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 do make a lot more sense.

Artograph, in particular, has been making fantastic and affordable projectors (as well as light boxes and related art tools) for quite a while now.

The general-use digital projectors from non-art companies are quite good now too.

The opaque projectors are also pretty cool, though – they work great, can still be quite a bit cheaper than digital projectors, and are an absolute snap to use. If you work 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 digital conversion or other prep work.

What Can You Use an Art Projector For?

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

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

Main Criteria for Choosing a Projector for Art

We have already discussed whether you may want to get a digital projector or an opaque scanner, or both, which 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, hard on your eyes, use lots more energy, and have only a fraction of the long life of the newest LED bulbs.

Brightness

You may think of projecting in a dark room and not be too fussed about how bright the projector is, but it’s nice to have the option of using your new projector in lit or darkened room.

Anyway, bright light 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

Many folks will say that the projector’s resolution doesn’t matter for artwork, but this is a little silly.

This mostly applies to a digital projector, which will be projecting digital files. You can easily see that the sharper projectors make your art or whatever original source image you use much clearer, easier to work on, or trace accurately.

Connectivity

This 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 will you 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 be covered!

FAQs – Art Project

Which projector is good for artists?

Based on my experience, Artograph Flare 450 is the best digital projector for artists, and Artograph Tracer is the best opaque projector for artists.

How do art projectors work?

Opaque art projectors shine light onto an opaque piece of paper, canvas, or fabric – and then shine that image onto the wall (or a canvas or larger piece of paper) using mirrors and glass so that you get a big projected enlargement of the original image. Digital art projectors use digital image files and project that image onto the wall.

Why do artists use projectors?

Artists use projectors to make their life easier while working, for example, on wall art, murals, and large-scale artwork. In this case, the art projectors help artists mark the outlines, proportions, and compositions properly. Beginner artists use projectors to learn the art fundamentals by tracing and copying art on a larger scale.

Is using an art projector cheating?

No, I don’t think so. Art projector is simply a tool that helps you in your creative process or while you learn!

I hope my guide helped you to choose your new art projector and you will have a lot of fun painting on canvas, walls and making murals.

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and other resources.

If you are looking for a smaller, portable projector to display your artworks, have a look at Best Mini Projector for iPhone and iPad

Looking for a Light box for tracing your artworks? Then check this article: Best Light Box for Tracing

Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur projecteur pour dessiner en 2022

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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