Considering the number of projectors available online, finding an art projector may seem like a piece of cake. But this isn’t exactly the case.
Unlike most standard devices developed for entertainment and business purposes, art projectors should feature specific characteristics to benefit artists, such as brightness levels, display resolution, throw capacity, connectivity, and size.
To get things right from the get-go, we’ve listed some of the best art projectors you can buy, including opaque and digital art projectors — all within reasonable price ranges for hobbyists and pros alike.
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Best art projectors
Best art projectors
Make tracing, sketching, painting, and large-scale projects a breeze with the help of these high-quality opaque and digital art projectors.
Best opaque projector: Artograph Super Prism Opaque Art Projector
The Artograph Super Prism is the ultimate opaque projector, featuring powerful lamps and mirrors to project images onto surfaces.
This is an excellent choice for the true artist who revels in old-school methods and tech-free tools to accomplish their artwork. Fun fact: Andy Warhol created some of his most iconic work by enlarging and transferring images with an opaque projector!
Autograph’s Super Prism opaque projector is still one of the most sought-after, created explicitly for painting, drawing, tracing, airbrushing, mural art, and more. The large tabletop model features a 7×7-inch copy area, a 225 mm f/4.8 color-correcting lens, and an additional Super Prism lens for finer detail and extra clarity.
Its projection range enables enlargement up to 20x, and its reversible lens can make original images 80% smaller — perfect if you’re looking for a projector that provides versatility for different project sizes. In addition, it includes two 250-watt photo lamps for extra brightness and a dual-cooling system to maintain a stable temperature while in use.
Remember, there are no digital inputs here to load and display images, nor is this model Wi-Fi compatible. Instead, it has a magnetic door latch with spring clips to hold your image in place for projection and a plug-in cable for powering.
It’s also crucial to know that this projector works best in dark rooms. In fact, the darker your workspace, the better. If you’re looking for art projectors that respond well to natural light or bright rooms, this isn’t the right pick. However, most of the best art projectors, whether opaque or digital, will always work best in dark surroundings.
While not the cheapest item on our list, the Super Prism offers brand prestige and excellent results for very reasonable value for money, not to mention a highly intuitive experience for artists of all skill sets.
Best opaque projector for beginners: Artograph EZ Tracer
The Autograph EZ Tracer is a fantastic choice for artists of all ages due to its affordability and ease of use.
Despite its toy-like appearance, this budget-friendly art projector is very effective for vertical tracing on canvases and mural art, magnifying images 2-10x their original size. It includes a plug-in cable, switch, and rotating lens for focus adjustment.
To use the projector, you’ll place your image under the 4×4 inch copy area (located under vs. on top of the device), turn the switch, and focus the lens onto a flat surface. It’s really that simple!
Note that this opaque projector is best for projects that involve drawing, image transferring and enlarging, and tracing onto flat surfaces like paper or canvas: we don’t recommend the EZ Tracer for more complex textured ventures such as rug tufting.
Remember that opaque art projectors require a dark room for optimal results. Because this is a more basic model, images won’t be as refined as those achieved with digital technology. On the other hand, it’s perfect for beginners and hobbyists testing the waters.
Your projector will be illuminated with a bulb, but this will need to be bought separately. Recommendations for this model are a 15W LED or 23W CFL bulb. I advise using LED bulbs since they’re more energy efficient and don’t heat up as much.
Since you’ll have to manually focus your lens and keep your projector in place as you work, a helpful hack is to place your device on a wheeled cabinet you can lock. This will help you determine the best throw distance without having to make inconvenient adjustments in your workspace.
Best digital art projector: Artograph Inspire 1200 Digital Projector
The Inspire 1200 by Artograph is one of the best digital projectors for creatives, providing a feature-packed device to create high-quality artwork.
Being a pro-grade digital projector, it is one of the priciest and, therefore, best suited for professional artists and crafters. But that doesn’t mean it’s overly complicated; it’s pretty straightforward and easy to master.
Like most Artograph products, this model is primarily designed for creatives looking for art projectors for drawing and tracing, whether large mural projects, canvas painting, or even smaller, detailed work — this kind of versatility is the beauty of digital devices.
Due to its high-definition resolution and 1.2:1 throw ratio, you’ll be able to project images from various distances without affecting the clarity or visibility of your images. Its keystone correction feature is another helpful feature since it automatically adjusts image distortion with the touch of a button.
One highlight that makes this one of the best art projectors is its series of built-in grids. Your device will contain over 30 grid patterns to help you outline images and draw with precision during different stages of your work. If you’re a longtime artist, you know just how valuable having this can be!
This full HD projector ensures bright, vivid light at all times. Unlike the previous products, this projector works effectively in both lit and dark rooms, which is especially handy for spacious work areas that are more challenging to fully dim. And in case you’re wondering, your set will include a tripod mounting plate — no need to DIY here!
This device runs on a power adapter but also has an integrated battery that will run for a few hours independently. If you intend on connecting Apple devices to your projector, know that you’ll need to source separate connectors by the brand for compatibility.
Best digital projector for beginners: AuKing Projector
Next up are a few options that aren’t explicitly designed for art hobbies but are affordable, reliable alternatives if you’re looking for digital art projectors.
Considering how expensive digital projectors can get, the AuKing projector makes for a great, budget-friendly, entry-level device for beginner illustrators and sketchers. Available on Amazon for under $100, this device features full HD resolution, LED light, and a decent amount of brightness.
This is a convenient pick if you’re working on more straightforward projects. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a seasoned artist focused on complex, detailed works, as it may not project images as accurately as desired. In that case, I suggest a slightly more high-end model to ensure sharper contrast of outlines and color.
Since this is a projector for home entertainment, it’s not curated for artists, nor does it include features such as grid patterns. On the other hand, it works especially well in dark rooms and incorporates keystone correction and a broad throw range.
If you plan on connecting your phone to your projector, you’ll have a feature that enables mirroring your screen. This allows you to work with different dimensions, such as vertical portrait art or landscape drawings. This digital projector is compact, lightweight, and features multiple connectivity inputs.
It’s not compatible with wireless, though, so you’ll need an HDMI cable to connect your electronic devices. While not the most advanced projector, this is a great option to test the waters without burning a hole in your pocket. Just remember that a home projector will never match the accuracy and precision achieved on a screen!
You can purchase this model on Amazon for a slightly upgraded version of this projector. It’s a little more superior in color quality, has Wi-Fi connectivity, and has a larger image capacity. But as expected, its original price is roughly $200, which essentially beats the purpose of a quality, low-budget purchase.
Best value for money: KODAK Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector
The Kodak Luma series comprises several small projectors of different sizes and features, but for artwork, I suggest the Kodak Luma 350.
This portable, palm-size model is battery-operated, boasts a long-lasting lamp life, and makes for one of the best projectors for tracing art due to its high-quality DLP technology.
The Kodak Luma 350 features HD resolution, which, combined with its DLP technology, make for better contrast, color saturation, and smoother image projections. Funnily enough, images are so accurate that many use this projector for cake and cookie decorating!
It’s also suitable for tasks other than tracing and drawing, such as rug tufting, sewing, and textured textile projects. This projector also has automatic keystone correction to ensure images stay focused at all times. You’ll also have wireless connectivity to upload and display images digitally.
In addition, your projector includes HDMI, USB, Audio, and Bluetooth features. However, this model doesn’t have a microSD card insert. If this is something that matters to you, the Kodak Luma 150 is an alternative worth considering, although it’s less potent in terms of brightness.
The Kodak Luma 350 includes built-in Android-compatible apps. However, these are currently outdated for most modern devices. But if you’re looking for a projector solely for artistic purposes, don’t let this discourage you from considering this product.
Best mini art projector: PVO Portable Projector
Whether you’re an experienced artist or a crafty hobbyist, having a mini projector is always practical to have.
If you’re looking for portable art projectors that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, the PVO LED projector is a great pick. It’s actually especially useful for rug tufting! This mini projector displays images up to 150 inches (diagonal) and can be connected to multiple electronic devices: we recommend sourcing an HDMI adapter cable separately.
While it doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi, this digital projector does feature a microSD slot, which is particularly handy for storing your artwork for display. This is a very straightforward model and, therefore, doesn’t include certain features such as a built-in battery or automatic keystone correction.
It may take a few minutes to focus your image onto your surface, but once you’ve got the hang of things, this user-friendly projector will surprise you with its high-quality definition and color. Your device can be charged with a power bank while on the go or with the AC adapter included in this set.
Like most projectors, this model will work best in dimmed, dark rooms, although it will also display images and pictures in naturally lit surroundings. While not top-of-the-line, this small digital projector is well worth the purchase for its value: roughly under $70.
The advantages? Multiple ports, compatibility with smartphones, brightness, and price. Know that there aren’t speakers built into this projector. Still, this doesn’t make much difference if your goal is a mini, budget-friendly digital art projector.
You’re also likely to find various generic replicas of this model during your search; click below to find the real deal!
Art projectors: What to look for
Having a good-looking, affordable art projector may seem good enough, but there are a few specs to consider to ensure you’re purchasing the right match for your projects.
Brightness on an art projector is measured in ANSI lumens: 2,000-3,000 lumens are standard for these devices.
While projecting in a dark room will always help achieve sharper contrast and visible lines, it’s also good to confirm if your device responds well to lit rooms. Art projectors providing more brightness will give you more versatility, such as projecting onto thicker materials rather than just canvas and paper.
This is an important feature for digital projectors. This will define how sharp your projected images are. Most quality devices offer full HD, which will be more than enough for most projects, although some do offer higher 4K resolution. This is overkill for art, but if you want to stream tv shows or movies it might be worth it for you.
Projection screen size and throw
This determines the space needed between your projector and display surface to obtain a clear, accurate picture.
You can find short-throw and long-throw projectors. Your pick should depend on the size and detail of your images and project types, surface, and workspace.
With an opaque projector, you won’t have to think about much besides connecting your device for powering.
On the other hand, digital art projectors generally have USB connectors, MicroSD slots, Bluetooth, HDMI inputs, and more. More advanced models also include wireless connectivity.
Design and portability
No matter how big or small your workspace is, purchasing a portable, easy-to-transport art projector is always a good idea. While some are battery-powered, most need to be plugged in.
You may also need to move your projector around for greater focus and throw. Going for options that won’t be a pain to move around will always provide more convenience, whether while at work or when it’s time to wrap things up.
Opaque projectors vs. digital projectors
You’ve heard of opaque and digital art projectors, but how are they different, and which should you choose?
Here’s a brief breakdown of what both have to offer.
- A traditional, analog approach
- No complicated technology involved
- Easy to operate
- Lenses vary (can enlarge or reduce original images)
- Suitable for all skillsets and ages
- Commonly more affordable
- Don’t require charging
- Powered with standard cable
- Bulbs for illuminating
- Images must be physically printed and integrated into the projector (pictures, illustrations, etc.)
- Dark room is required for optimal results
- More limited
- Images may not be as precise as digital art projectors
- Can source and project images digitally
- Image manipulation can be done from the device
- Some integrate grid patterns
- Many compact models
- Work well in dark and illuminated areas
- Most integrate automatic keystone correction
- Can have an overwhelming number of features
- It can be hard to find the best throw distance
- Many don’t incorporate wireless connectivity
- Require maintenance and charging
Art projectors vs. light pads
Both light pads and art projectors are beneficial for creative hobbyists and may share some similarities, but at the end of the day, they do cater to different purposes. Here are a few things to know!
- Best for large-scale vertical/horizontal projects
- Projects images onto large flat surfaces/walls
- Can reduce or enlarge original images
- Best for drawing, sketching, tracing, photos, painting, mural art, rug tufting
- Most popular projectors for art are opaque or digital
- Tabletop and mini handheld devices are available
- Digital projectors tend to integrate many features such as throw distance ratio, brightness, wireless, keystone correction, color correction, and more.
- Devices can cost hundreds of dollars
- Most effective in dark rooms
- Can integrate multiple inputs, built-in batteries, and adapters
- Suitable for small-scale projects
- Best for tracing, drawing, sketching, quilting, sewing, calligraphy, lettering, diamond painting
- Lightweight tabletop devices
- Drawing and tracing are done directly on the light pad (downward)
- Brightness control features
- Color temperature features
- Tracing paper is used
- Work very well with photos
- Compatible with different paperweights
- USB charged, battery run, and AC adapter powered models available
- Wide range of prices and models for all budgets
That’s it for our comprehensive guide to the best art projectors! Any advice for other intrepid crafters? Let everyone know in the comments below!