Best Art Projectors for Tracing, Drawing, & Painting in 2021

An art projector could be the tool you never knew you needed. As an artist, using a projector can improve your artwork and simplify your processes.

Photorealist artists have been using these useful gadgets for decades. But any artist can benefit from adding a projector to their studio.

It makes it so much easier to enlarge your designs, trace on canvas, or even outline a mural. 

Depending on the type, you can project either a digital or physical image onto a larger surface. That makes it very handy to enlarge sketches on a canvas for example.

It’s also essential if you want to keep the same dimensions as your original design, but on a large scale. Not only will it save you time, but you’ll get more accurate results than sketching it from scratch.

Digital projectors have other uses, too. You can transform a room into a mini home cinema by projecting movies onto a wall. In an instant, any blank wall can become a cinema screen!

But choosing the right projector isn’t so straightforward. There are a few different types of projectors to pick between.

It used to be that you had to use slide projectors and get a slide made up for every design. But with improvements in technology, things have changed a lot since then.

Now, you can find digital art projectors at reasonable prices. That makes them more accessible, so it’s not only professional artists who can afford one.

That means you have the choice of a digital art projector or the traditional slide projector. Not to mention opaque projectors and overhead projectors!

It’s enough to make your head swim with all the options!

And that’s before we get onto different brands, prices, and features to consider.

If you’ve been considering investing in a projector, don’t stress. I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the best art projectors out there.

First, I’ll get onto the reviews. I’ve shopped around and researched the best art projectors to save you the work! 

Then, I’ll explain quickly the various types and how they work. I’ll share my tips on what to look for when shopping for the best art projector.

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Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Digital Art Projector

Before we get onto the reviews, there are a few basics you should know about. So, let’s get stuck in! 

What Are Art Projectors Used for?

If you’re not familiar with projectors, then this article could be a revelation for you! 

Many artists use an image projector to enlarge a sketch, photo, or image onto a canvas. You can even project it onto a wall to paint a giant mural.

That makes it so much easier to create large-scale projects that are accurate. You won’t need to spend so long trying to get your proportions right.

Art projectors are essential tools for Photorealist or abstract artists. If you want to recreate a picture down to the tiniest detail, you need the accuracy of a projector.

Once you’ve created a sketch you’re happy with, you can project it onto your canvas. It means you can perfect your design on a small scale and just blow it up onto your larger canvas.

That makes your process so much quicker, easier, and stress-free. You won’t need to worry about messing up your canvas or having to start over from scratch many times.

They are also handy when you’re working to a strict deadline and need a quick turnaround on a project.

Other uses for art projectors include displaying digital art, animations, and 3D projects. 

If you like to work with media like optical illusions or art displays, a projector could be vital.

As you can see, a projector for drawing and tracing is a useful tool. Almost all artists will find it a helpful addition to their art supplies.

What are the Different Types of Projectors?

There are four main types of projectors available. Which type you go for will depend on the kind of artwork you make, your needs, and your budget.

Here’s a quick explanation of each type of projector.

Digital Projectors

Digital projectors tend to be the most expensive but also the easiest to use.

Another name for digital projectors is a home theatre projector. These are the type of projectors you can also use for projecting animations, videos, and movies.

Digital projectors have improved hugely in recent years in accuracy and brightness. They are also more affordable than they used to be. 

Another big bonus is that they can project any digital image. So, you don’t need to worry about printing it or getting your design made into a slide.

You can generally project your images from a memory card. The other option is to transfer them from your laptop, tablet, camera, or smartphone.

Having these different options makes it very versatile and user-friendly. Plus, it means that you don’t need to prepare materials in advance like with slide or opaque projectors.

Opaque Projectors

An opaque projector can be handy if you’d like to enlarge a sketch or photo onto a canvas or a wall. 

There are a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind. Firstly, the room needs to be dark for an opaque projector to work well. 

Secondly, you’ll have to print out the image or sketch it by hand to use with your opaque projector. It needs to fit the opening of your model, so it should be around 5 inches large.

That requires some forethought and access to a printer

Opaque projectors vary in power and price. You can get very basic models for a cheap price, but they may not be very accurate or powerful.

If you can pay a little more, you can get better quality. But in that case, you might be better off saving up for a decent digital projector with less hassle to use.

Slide Projectors

The third type of projector dates back to the ’60s. Artists commonly used slide projectors to enlarge their designs. But this process is a bit more complicated.

That’s because before you can use a slide projector, you’ll need to make a slide of the design. You might have to outsource this part of the process.

Once you have the slide, you can fit it into the projector to blow up your sketch. 

Slide projectors can be more accurate than opaque projectors. But that depends on the brand and model. 

You also have to accept the inconvenience of slide projectors. If you like to create spontaneous art, it can cramp your style.

Overhead Projectors

You might be familiar with the good old overheard projector from the classroom. Many teachers used them to project worksheets or lessons onto the whiteboard.

But artists can also use overhead projects to enlarge their sketches. This way, you can transfer a small design onto a much larger canvas.

To use an overhead projector, you’ll need to create a transparent version of your design. But that’s easy to do nowadays.

You can print on transparency film using a printer you already have if you buy the right type of supplies.

But it’s worth noting that overheard projectors don’t come cheap. I’d recommend thinking carefully about how often you’ll use it before you shell out for one. 

Slide projectors and overhead projectors can both be found much cheaper secondhand. So if you’re on a budget, don’t rush into buying the first projector you come across.

If you’re willing to shop around and wait for a bargain, you could save a lot of money!

Do I Want a Digital Projector or An Opaque Projector?

Digital projectors are more modern and versatile. You can display digital images and connect a digital projector to your laptop or even for your phone.

As a result, they are speedy and easy to use. You can also play videos or films on a digital projector, making them multipurpose.

Another benefit is that you can adjust the image on the projector itself. For example, you can switch before color and black and white on many digital projectors.

However, digital projectors don’t tend to come cheap. That makes them less accessible for anyone on a budget, including students.

If you just need to transfer your designs onto a larger surface, an opaque projector may be all you need.

Opaque projects tend to be less expensive than digital models. But they’re not as convenient because you’ll need to print out the sketch to fit the projector opening.

Once you’ve done that, they’re pretty straightforward to use. For a cost-effective way to enlarge your designs, consider getting an opaque projector.

Opaque projectors are also simpler bits of kit, making them easy to repair or maintain. For example, you can swap out light bulbs yourself. 

How to Choose the Best Art Projector

When you’re looking for the best art projector for tracing in instance, there are a few factors to consider. 

You know all about the different types of projectors now, so you should know which type fits your needs.

But there are other things to think about to ensure you get the best tracing projector for you.

Portable or Overhead Projector?

First, you should decide whether you need a fixed or portable projector. A fixed or overhead projector can sometimes be more precise.

But you lose a lot of flexibility if you have a fixed projector. If you’re looking for the best projector for murals, portability is essential.

Unless you only ever work from one place, you should go for a compact, portable projector. That’s true even if you just want to switch up the direction or angle within your studio, too.

There are some excellent portable projectors on the market now. So, getting a smaller, compact projector doesn’t mean sacrificing quality.

Brightness

Some projectors will be brighter than others. The best digital art projectors tend to have LED lights rather than regular bulbs. LEDs are brighter, last longer, and don’t overheat.

The projector’s brightness shouldn’t be a significant problem if you’re working in the studio.

But if you need to work outside, then checking the brightness is critical. That’s especially true if you’re working on murals in bright daylight and full sun.

In that case, look for the brightest projector possible. The brightness is measured in lumens (sometimes referred to as lux). 

Connectivity

You’ll want to check the connectivity of any model before you buy. The best digital projector will have WiFi connectivity so you can transfer images without cables.

But this feature isn’t available for all models. However, most projectors will have USB ports and memory card slots. 

Size of Your Room

One last thing you shouldn’t overlook is to double-check the projector will work with your studio’s size. 

You should look up the throw distance of the projector and see whether it matches your studio.

Projectors can fall under three different categories. These range from ultra-short throw to short throw and long throw.

You’ll need to buy the right type of projector for your room. So, make sure you measure up first!

Otherwise, you could find that the projector doesn’t fit your room’s dimensions. You don’t want to discover that after you’ve parted with your cash.

How Does an Art Projector Work?

Projectors used to work by shining light through a translucent film onto the wall.  Nowadays, most digital projectors work in a similar but slightly different way

You choose an image or video and open it on your projector. Then, it will appear on the display of the projector.

Next, a very bright light shines through the LCD. As a result, the pixels on the display are projected onto the surface in front of the projector.

Slide projectors will throw the image on the slide onto the wall. And overhead projectors enlarge whatever is on the transparency film in the same way.

Opaque projectors differ as they also use mirrors. They still work by beaming bright light onto the physical image (hand-drawn or printed). 

But you’ll also find mirrors and a lens carefully positioned within an opaque projector. They reflect the image in larger proportions onto the wall. 

Best art projectors - Digital projector

The Best Projectors for Artists: My Reviews

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the best art projectors. 

DR. J Professional 4500L Mini Projector Full HD

Best digital projector for art - DR. J Professional 4500L Mini Projector Full HD

(Image credit: DR. J Professional)

This mini projector has all the features you need. It’s compact, lightweight, and has an internal cooling system to ensure it doesn’t overheat.

But most importantly, it is very high resolution for such a mini projector, with 1280 x 720 pixels. That makes it perfect for projecting your artwork without losing any of the fine details.

You’ll see the difference in the vibrancy and definition of your images.

As a result, it’s easy to trace your illustrations neatly and accurately. The finished results will look better thanks to the improved resolution.

The high resolution means that it doubles up as an excellent home cinema projector, too.

Plus, it has a wide range of connectivity options such as HDMI, USB, and more. 

This mini projector is ideal for anyone who needs a compact projector they can take anywhere.

  • It has a high resolution 
  • It’s very compact and portable
  • It doesn’t offer WiFi connectivity

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VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector

Best digital projector for art - VANKYO LEISURE 3 Mini Projector

(Image credit: Vankyo)

Another compact too, the Vankyo mini projector is lightweight with excellent brightness. 

It uses LED bulbs, which are both long-lasting and very bright. That ensures that your designs come out detailed and precise, making your job easier.

And because it uses LED bulbs, this mini projector should last for 40,000 hours or more. That gives you plenty of time to sketch, trace, and create incredible artwork!

It can also blow your artwork up to 170 inches. The size and brightness make it suitable for tracing murals outside, too.

This projector is very user-friendly, allowing you to connect to almost any device. That includes smartphones, game consoles, TVs, and laptops.

Overall, this mini projector could be useful for any artist. But without a doubt, it’s the best projector for murals.

  • It’s very bright, making it suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Great connectivity options
  • The standard resolution is only 800*480

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QKK Mini LED Projector

Best digital projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: QKK)

The QKK projector is a great affordable option if you’re on a budget.

It comes with everything you need to project your artwork. That includes a smart little stand that you can adjust to point in any direction.

So, you can project your images wherever you need them. As a result, you can find a comfortable position to work.

This feature can also come in useful if you’re tracing directly onto a wall, as you can get the angle just right.

This LED projector works well inside or out but may not be as defined in bright sunlight. It’s best to use it in darker conditions if possible.

The lamp life is impressive with up to 50,000 hours. That means this affordable projector should last you for years!

It has a maximum display resolution of 1080p Full HD. So it’s perfect for projecting your artwork.

The company also offers a 3-year satisfaction guarantee. So if you buy this projector, you’ll know you’ve spent your money well and got a great deal.

  • The best art projector for lamp life – it’s durable and long-lasting
  • It’s low-cost and great for people on a budget
  • It doesn’t work well in bright sunlight

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BenQ MH535FHD 1080P Home Theater Projector

Best digital projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: BenQ)

This BenQ projector is pretty expensive, but it could be worth the investment if you have the cash to spare. 

This high-tech projector has a sleek, elegant design and impressive specs. That includes the HD high resolution at 1080 pixels.

It’s also extremely bright, emitting 3600 lumens. That means it’s suitable for using outside in daylight or a brighter room without struggling to see.

Few projectors allow you to see well in rooms with ambient lighting. So, if you can’t work in darker rooms, this projector could be just what you need.

The high-contrast ratio also allows video and images to stand out more.

It’s simple and straightforward to set up this projector. You can adjust the distance from the wall, as it’s very versatile. 

BenQ also offers excellent customer service. So, you can rely on them if anything goes wrong with your product.

  • One of the best projectors for outdoor use or in ambient light
  • Sharp, crystal-clear definition & HD resolution
  • The lamp life is only guaranteed for 10,000 hours – less than other models

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Artograph EZ Tracer Projector

Best opaque projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: Artograph)

If you’re looking for an opaque projector, check out this model. 

Artograph is one of the most well-known brands of opaque projectors. Their products have stood the test of time.

It has the benefit of being very simple to use, with a quick setup. It’s lightweight and compact, allowing you to take it anywhere.

You will need to work in a dark room for this projector to be effective. The display measures 4 x 4 inches, so your image must fit in this space. 

The Artograph EZ Tracer can enlarge your image from 2x to 10x the size. That makes it perfect for creating artwork up to 40 x 40 inches. So, it’s best for small to medium canvases.

This projector is very cost-effective and can be even cheaper secondhand. However, it is a bit limited in how you can use it and requires a bit of preparation before you can start.

  • One of the best art projectors for anyone on a budget
  • It’s compact and comes with a 1-year warranty
  • It doesn’t come with a lightbulb

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Artograph Tracer Projector

Best opaque projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: Artograph)

This low-cost opaque projector is ideal for any beginner artists or kids and teens. 

The projection range is limited to a maximum of 14 inches, so it’s not suitable for large art projects. But it’s effective for enlarging smaller illustrations so that you can trace them.

The copy size is 5 x 5 inches, so you’ll need an image that fits this area. 

This projector comes with a 23 Watt fluorescent bulb. It’s not as bright as an LED bulb, producing 1600 Lumens. It can also heat up over time, so you’ll need to take care.

But this model is also super compact. You can pack it easily, and as it’s durable, it’s handy for traveling.

This projector is suitable for students or amateurs just getting started. But it doesn’t provide as much flexibility as a digital projector.

  • Excellent for creating accurate enlargements
  • It’s easy to see the images in dark rooms
  • You’ll need an image of less than 5 x 5 inches

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APEMAN M4 Mini Portable Projector

Best digital projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: APEMAN)

The Apeman mini projector costs a little more than your average, basic projector. But it doubles up as an art projector and a home cinema projector. 

The high resolution is perfect for producing detailed, accurate sketches. But it’s just as useful for projecting movies onto a wall or screen for a fun entertainment night.

It’s also about as small as projectors come. Even when they have the word ‘mini’ in their name, most projectors are bigger than this Apeman model.

It weighs only 210 grams and measures just 3.86 x 3.86 inches. So, you can slip it in your pocket or bag and take it anywhere. It won’t weigh you down – you won’t even know you’ve got it!

Despite the small size, you can enlarge images to anywhere between 30 to 100 inches. That gives you lots of versatility and allows you to create the perfect setup for your canvas.

Without a doubt, this is the best mini projector around. You get a high resolution and fantastic accuracy in one tiny package.

  • It can fit in your package and is featherlight
  • It’s quiet when in use and has a long lamp life
  • The maximum size you can project is 100 inches

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ViewSonic 1080p Projector

Best slide projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: ViewSonic)

Next up is another premium projector that’s going to set you back a fair chunk of money. But don’t discount it straight away!

If the ViewSonic projector falls within your budget, it could be the right projector for you. 

This high-resolution projector offers super brightness with 3500 Lumens. That means it creates a sharp image for you to trace. You won’t have any worries about blurriness or fuzzy lines with this model.

It also makes it easier to work in a room that isn’t pitch black. For many artists, this is a real bonus as you can get more accurate, and it’s not such hard work on your eyes.

Working in a dark room doesn’t always produce the best results for your art. 

Combine the bright light with the 1920 x 1080 HD res, and it’s a recipe for success. This projector doesn’t cut any corners.

As a result, you can trace very detailed, fine, and precise designs. But it also doubles up as an excellent projector for movies and home entertainment. 

Movies and videos look crisp when using the ViewSonic. So, it’s perfect for both work and play.

  • Excellent color accuracy and high-definition projection of videos & images
  • Super bright light & long lamp life
  • It’s costly

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Epson Home Cinema 1060

Best slide projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: Epson)

This projector was designed for home cinema use. But it makes an excellent digital art projector too. 

The Epson Home Cinema 1060 has fantastic specs. From the 3,100 Lumens to the HD 1080 pixel projection, it ticks all the right boxes.

But one of the most impressive features is that it can project images up to 300 inches. Most portable projectors have a much smaller maximum size.

So if you want to work on large canvases or murals, this projector is the one for you. While it’s not cheap, it will give you the most versatility.

You can create artwork of any size up to huge mural paintings. By tracing out your design, you’ll save time and make an accurate sketch to work on.

A lot of thought went into the design of this projector. It’s quick and easy to set up,

Plus, it’s compatible with many different devices, from smartphones to smart TVs.

If you’re looking for a digital projector with all the features, grab this Epson Home Cinema 1060. It’s perfect for working on larger canvases and murals with accuracy and precision.

  • Great for large art projects
  • It’s very bright with HD resolution
  • It’s not cheap

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Apollo Overhead Projector Horizon 2

Best overhead projector for art - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: Apollo)

If you like the sound of the traditional overhead projector, check out the Apollo Horizon 2. While it’s not as compact as portable projectors, it could fit the bill for your needs.

An overhead projector gives accurate, sharp images. Plus, you can easily transfer your designs using printable transparency film. 

That makes this overhead projector more straightforward than a slide projector. You don’t need to outsource creating slides, and it allows you to be more spontaneous.

The Apollo overhead projector is built to last, with a built-in cooling system. This feature ensures that the projector doesn’t overheat, even when in use for long periods.

It’s also very durable and hardwearing. Buying the Apollo Horizon is a great, long-term investment. 

If you’re looking for a projector for your studio, consider getting the Apollo. It’s accurate, robust, and even comes with a 2-year warranty.

  • One of the best art projectors for your studio
  • It has a sturdy build & you get a 2-year warranty
  • It’s bulky and not easily portable

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Xgimi Mogo Pro

Best art digital projector - QKK Mini LED Projector

(Image credit: Xgimi)

And finally, we have the flashy Xgimi Mogo Pro. This eye-catching little projector looks cool, but that’s not all.

It’s packed with useful and impressive features. First of all, there’s the native 1080 FHD resolution, which ensures that any images look amazing.

It has a long battery life and compact design so that you can use it anywhere.

Plus, the lamp life should last at least 30,000 hours. So, this projector should be good for years to come.

Xgimi offers superb customer service. It guarantees lifetime tech support for your projector.

The Xgimi Mogo Pro is ideal for anyone who wants a projector for art and to watch movies. 

It’s a versatile product that allows you to download apps from Google Play Store and project videos. The sound quality is also exceptional.

Overall, it’s a great multipurpose projector with excellent resolution and clarity.

  • Ideal for projecting art but also movies
  • It’s long-lasting with fantastic customer support
  • It’s not for anyone a budget

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The Wrap Up

Buying the right art projector can seem like a daunting task at first. But once you narrow down the type of projector you want, you’re halfway there.

You just need to compare the different factors laid out in our buying guide and consider your budget.

Keeping these things in mind, you’re sure to find the perfect projector for tracing and drawing.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out the recommended products above! 

There’s something for everyone at every price point. But they’ve been carefully picked out as the best art projectors around right now!

Let me know which one you go for in the comments. And if you have any questions about the best projector for tracing images, ask away. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Happy tracing!

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My name is Outmane, I am a designer and artist.

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