Sunday, 19 May 2013

Camera Lucida

I recently discovered the Camera Lucida ipad app through Klickitat Street's excellent tutorial. I don't have a kopykake projector; they're prohibitively expensive and I also think it would drive me mad trying to print images out at the right size, cut the A4 page down to size, then have to start all over again if it was wrong.

The app has become incredibly useful for all those character cookies where getting the character to look right is far more important than ensuring every aspect of the cookie is done by hand. Children don't care if I copy the picture by eye, then cut out a template and stab holes on the cookie (which is what I have been doing until now), or whether I copy the image using an ipad, they just want recognisable Moshi Monsters!

So here's my set-up:

I have the ipad sitting on my mixer bowl, so it's about 8 inches above the table. The camera lens is just behind the bottom right corner so the screen is showing the green cookie. The image I want to put on the cookie is also showing on the screen, and I can adjust the transparency of that image using the bar you can see at the bottom of the screen, so I can get the best balance between seeing the cookie and my hands, and the image I'm transferring.

You have to work looking at the screen, not the cookie, which is awkward to get used to, partly because it's much closer to your face. I have to take my glasses off to be comfortable, but then the cookie and pretty much everything else is blurred. I've not yet been able to pipe directly, I just can't do it quickly enough to control the icing in my usual way, so I scratch the image on to the dry icing using one of those sharp, pointy tool things for stabbing holes in other things (is it a bradawl? Anyway, I have one and I can't live without it, it has a lovely fat handle and a really sharp point, which beats a toothpick anyday).

I did this with all 18 of the Moshi Monster images I needed, then I start piping outlines and filling in sections (using the same 15-20 second royal icing). As there are so many very small sections, the risk of craters forming is high, but I've started using a fan to dry out the surface really quickly, which means almost no craters and very little colour bleeding too. And it means I can add the next section much sooner.

I keep going back and forth amongst the cookies, adding new sections once the old ones are dry enough, then leave them to dry for a few hours (or overnight if I'm working late on them) before adding the pupils in edible ink, or painting them on with black food colouring. 

The final step is to contact the customer to inform them the cookies are ready, only to notice that the order is for Littlest Pet Shop, not Moshi Monsters, at which point I give up and go to bed.


  1. these are amazing! I love it that you made Moshi ones instead of Littlest Pet shop...sorry! ;-)

  2. Ha ha - you can imagine how I felt when I realised!

  3. Your cookies are fantastic! Thank you for sharing how you use the Lucida app. It was very helpful!!

  4. I have that app on my iPad also, I haven't tried it yet. I'm really wanting to use it, my granddaughters birthday is coming up. So maybe this will be the time to see what happens when it.

  5. With a little practise it's easy to use, and very flexible - I just can't pipe directly with it, like Klickitat Street does with hers. It's great for piping writing in different fonts.

  6. It's amazing! Love the details! Do the cookies still stay crunchy with the fan drying?

  7. They do stay crunchy, yes. I've now got myself a dehydrator with drawers so I'm no longer moving them around in front of my little fan. It's much more effective. In fact it's now my favourite piece of equipment!

  8. Such a smart idea to place your iPad on your mixing bowl - I was always looking for something I have on hand.. but never thought that the solution is so easy :) Thank you!

  9. An I Pad with the appropriate app, can do the same job as a Kopykake projector????