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.