If you’re into painting, drawing, or tracing, then you’re probably using your laptop or desktop or maybe tablet right now. But like with many things, a bigger picture works better, and projects go very well with projectors. Namely portable digital projectors that achieve great image fidelity.
Recently, we looked at ways portable projectors upsize your creativity and help boost the quality of your personal time, or “me time”. But in addition to that, and the obvious benefits projectors bring to activities like movie watching and gaming, they’re also excellent for practicing your art and working on art projects. By giving you a wall-sized canvass to practice and work on, projectors expand your perception beyond the limits of smaller screens and the less involved input of a keyboard or touchscreen. And not only do you get to work on your art in big screen format with a projector, you also gain the ability to showcase your work in a big and bold fashion that’s very different from passing around a smartphone or having friends check out your work on a 13” laptop display. With portable digital projectors, your wall’s the limit, but in general you’re looking at 100” of screen. Now that’s impressive.
Projectors have been gaining momentum among professional and budding artists alike for years, but with better technology comes improved accessibility and utility.
With portable digital projectors, you instantly get gallery-sized views of your artwork. Let’s say you have the projector hooked up to your laptop or graphics tablet via HDMI or Bluetooth. Whatever you stencil, draw, or paint is projected onto your wall immediately. Once on your wall, you can work on creations in grand style and size. Perhaps you have a wall in your home or studio you dedicate to art and don’t mind painting on. Or your 100” screen is a canvass board meant for artwork. And there are more options. All of them mean working on art in the biggest format possible outside of getting a space agency to cast your screen onto the moon. While we make and sell monitors for artists, even we at BenQ have to admit that once you work on a piece of art on such a big display, it’s not easy going back to even a 32” monitor.
And anything that’s great for kids is just great, period. If you want to encourage artistic inclinations among children, projectors provide the clear and spacious format the young ones relate to best. Sure, we’re used to children relying on smartphones for casual art, but that’s out of necessity and basic convenience. Imagine transferring the same image from your phone to a massive wall-sized view and how much of a difference that will make. Kids response to scale with amazing innocence and acceptance, and working on art on a large surface helps them loosen up, feel free, and express themselves. The big scale of projected screens also means more physical activity, as kids and adults move around as opposed to just using thumbs and index fingers with other devices.
Digital projectors leave all of the old conceptions of projectors behind. Designed for the interconnected age, modern digital projectors have smart features that allow them to work seamlessly with laptops, desktops, smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, digital drawing boards, and many other devices. You can use memory cards and external USB storage directly on the projector.
Image-wise, digital projectors give you a lot of freedom to adjust the display to your liking via intuitive on-screen menus. But as a baseline you should be aware that digital projectors leave cheaper LCD-based models far behind when it comes to brightness and contrast. Because digital portable projectors are quite bright (usually in the 400-500 lumen range), you’re not limited to using them in dark, cinema-like environments. A normal, average room with ambient daytime lighting is fine, as the projected image shines through.
Cheaper LCD-based portable projectors aren’t capable of this performance, resulting in dimmer, less distinct image delivery. And because of reduced brightness, with LCD projectors you’re forced to make sure ambient lighting is minimal, lest the screen get drowned out.
If you already have a full size projector at home that you’re using for movies, TV, and gaming, then you’re basically set. The same projector will work great for your art projects.
But maybe you don’t have a projector and are only thinking of one for artwork. That’s fine, although your purchasing decision depends on where you would like to use the projector and how often. Also, the scale of your art matters, and whether you’d like to take the projector with you to shows and other occasions. If the latter is important, then indeed a good portable digital projector is your best bet. In case you want to combine art and home entertainment, then we recommend investing in a full size home-class projector. These models will meet all of your needs, although they’re not nearly as versatile as portable projectors. Keep in mind that larger projectors are meant to mostly stay in place, and in this article we’re focusing on portables for people who wish to take their art on the go, or at least have that option.
We’ve already discussed brightness as it pertains to clarity, but there’s also a device size connection here. If you see portable projectors that appear almost as compact as your smartphone, that’s not what you need. These are “pico” LCD projectors and simply don’t have the power to showcase a good image. They also lack the battery life you’d expect out of a serious product. With good portables, you get up to three hours when unplugged. Cheap LCD models will drain out after an hour. Stay away from those.
Connectivity with other devices is essential. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are integrated into good portable projectors, plus they have USB and HDMI. Beware cheap and tiny projectors with no Wi-Fi or no HDMI.
Lastly, good digital portables use LED light sources. These last a lot longer than traditional projector lamps, and there’s no need to replace them as often. You’ll probably feel like buying a new projector before a replacement is due, whereas older technologies would mean a change every couple of years.
No longer must you confine your creativity to a small, rectangular display. Make your wall your canvass, literally, and find an entirely new way to express yourself. And in nearly any location due to portability. Technology is great, because thanks to its onward march, projectors have moved from the multiplex to our living rooms, and now into creative spaces everywhere and on the go. This is progress.