I love the Vermirror. This tool will provide a true experience for those willing to learn. All of the things that you need to learn to produce a painting you will still need. Knowledge of brushes, materials such as paint and mediums, and tones, values, and hues will not be effected by this mirror. However, once you learn to use it you will be able to produce art at the level of the masters. The drawing, underpainting, and color matching come easily and you add the creativity. Definitively five stars.
Vermirror reflects your image over a canvas or paper. So you can make mistakes, see what you did wrong. And fix it. Instantly. It's the Old Master's secret tool. Revivified for your use in the 21st century.
How to use a comparator mirror, and please, don't burn the messenger at the stake. This information is quite controversial in some circles, so read it with discretion and mind you P's and Q's when talking to the oligarchs of the art world about this subject.
The comparator mirror is a tool. Like the brush handle. And if you view the reference videos, you'll see a quote by Tim Jennison that says he believes the comparator mirror is harder to use than free handing. But, he also states it is more accurate. This is paramount if you plan to do portraits.
Some folks would say this method is a cheat. Well, again, as stated by Mike Derby, the mirror does not mix the paint, it does not create the brush stroke, and does not do the painting for you. It is just another artist tool. Like the brush handle in sight size drawing.
How did I get my materials. Well, lets start with the mirror. You will need a \"first surface mirror\". A small mirror purchased from a local arts/crafts store will work, but you have to do a little something to it to make it into a \"first surface mirror\". I purchased five for less than $2. Using fingernail polish remover and a cotton swab, I removed to painted coating on the back to reveal the highly polished mirror surface. Don't rub too hard or you can remove the mirrored surface as well. This back side of a normal mirror now becomes your \"first surface mirror\"
Why do this Flip the mirror over, and view its edge. On the edge you can see the glass. This will create a blurred line around the edge of the mirror that you don't want. Flip the mirror over to view the \"first surface\" and you will see a very distinct clean edge. In watching the films, when you have the image matched correctly in color and value, this edge literally disappears. And that's the key to this device. There is an instant positive reinforcement of a match when using this mirror.
The other instruments I used were a dowel in which I glued my mirror to (using a quick setting epoxy), and a machinists clamping device, which has a fairly heavy base and adjustable clamps to hold the dowel. You can use duct tape and a brick as long as the mirror, once set over your canvas does not move. (in the photo, you see one mirror glued to a dowel in the upper part of the frame)
The purpose of the graph paper is to check mirror alignment. If the mirror is not set at 45 degrees and 90 degrees to the picture plane, you will have some pretty bad distortions. (check the Hockney films out, it will show you exactly how this happens and examples of masterpieces painted in the past that actually have these distortions, more proof to show optics were used in their creation)
Laying the graph paper down and using line of sight to makesure the edges were lined up to the graph paper taped to the box. I then measured to be sure paper was equaldistance from my corner created by the box and the table surface. I then viewed the image of the graph on thebox (through the mirror) while watching the graph on the table. When they matched, and I had minimum distortion, I locked mymirror in place. I did have somedistortion of the image on the outside edges near the corners. The films (videos below) explain why this happens. (Especially the Hockney Videos)
I then select an image, in this case a beautiful single blossom rose with two buds, and I reverse the image using a photo editing program. (like photoshop) Why reverse the image well, the mirror does this, so to get a correct image, you must reverse it. (again, refering to Hockneys film, he talks about the statistical impossibility of having so many left handed people in portraits painted during the time in question, and his very plausible explanantion is they used mirrors)
Earlier this summer I watched the documentary Tim's Vermeer, which follows Tim Jenison as he tries to recreate a Vermeer painting using an optical device known as a camera lucida. This was basically a mirror at 45 degrees, allowing you to see both the original photograph (or a live scene, with the addition of a concave mirror) and the same area of the painting right next to each other. This would allow for direct comparisons of size, shape and color.
There wasn't a lot of information I could find online, though. I found a podcast interview with the eponymous Tim, who recommended using a first surface mirror. I happened to have a couple of those, taken from a grocery store checkout laser that I disassembled in grade school. (They can also be ordered from a source such as Edmund Optics. You'll want a rectangular mirror at least a couple centimeters on a side.)
I first experimented with holding the mirror in a simple adjustable clamp arm. This was not successful. The clamps didn't hold either end very firmly, allowing the mirror to shift at the slightest bump. Worse, it was almost impossible to finely adjust its position. I decided to make a serious mirror mount before continuing.
I borrowed a microphone stand from my roommate which immediately solved most of the problems of the previous arm. It was solid and could be adjusted easily. All that was needed was a way to mount the mirror on the end of the boom. I found a camera mounting bracket online with an adhesive plate to which the mirror could be stuck. Perfect! The other side had a standard 1/4\"-20 camera mounting screw, so all that was needed was a sleeve that could be clamped firmly to the microphone boom with a threaded 1/4\"-20 hole in one side.
Using my height gauge (again, total overkill, but if you don't practice when you don't need to, you won't have the skills when you need them) I marked the positions of 3 holes: 1 for the mirror bracket and 2 for thumb screws to lock it in place. In retrospect, these should have been on adjacent faces instead of on opposite sides, so the thumb screws wouldn't project down and get in the way as much. I drilled the holes with a #7 drill bit and tapped them to 1/4\"-20. Done! With the mirror attached to the camera bracket, and that screwed into the sleeve, and that clamped onto the arm, I had a solid, adjustable, stylish mirror mounting system.
For a first attempt, I cropped my favorite picture of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, printed it out and mounted it upside down in this adorable little easel I found. I moved the mirror into position, so I could see either the original or the painting as I moved my head back and forth. I sketched out the rough outline in pencil, and I started painting.
I thought about the problems and realized there were some easy ways to get the angles right. The mirror needs to bisect the angle between the two planes so that the distance to the original and the painting from the mirror's edge is always the same. Doing that is a lot easier if they are 90 degrees apart, so I mounted the photograph vertically this time. Then it was easy to set the mirror to 45 degrees using a combo square.
Next I aligned the mirror along the dividing line between the two planes. You can test this fairly easily if you print out a second copy of the photograph you're painting. (See the attached video for a quick demonstration.) Mount the mirror-imaged one upside down as you normally would, then place the normal version upside-up where the painting will be. Look down past the mirror, and adjust the lower copy so the two line up properly at one point. Now move your head forward. If the mirror is in the correct location, the two images will stay lined up. If the image in the reflection moves farther/gets bigger, then the mirror is too close to the original, and vice versa. Adjust the position of the mirror until they stay lined up.
Keeping the copy lined up with the reflection, test that the mirror is parallel to the painting in the other axis by moving your head side to side. If the images don't stay aligned, adjust the mirror to make sure it is parallel.
With the improved set up, I tried using the device again. This time I used the iconic picture of Goddard standing with the first liquid fuel rocket engine. The results were much better! The optical stability gave me a lot more confidence, and with the mirror so much closer to my face I found that diffraction effects very convenient. Right along the edge you can actually see both photograph and painting at once, with a smooth fade from one to the other.
Looking at the 'setup' with the distances between original image - mirror - drawing surface being equal. I am guessing that the final result is the same size as the original. If you make the distance between the mirror and the drawing surface greater, will it allow you to increase the size of the copy
Immediately after I saw the movie, I was at a garage sale where they had a toy version from the 60s. It came with a little mannequin, a mirror, and a frame to set it up. I didn't get it because they were asking $20, but now I'm kicking myself! I can't find any reference to it anywhere!
Jenison *re*-invented it, trying to work out what Vermeer may have used. There are other Camera Lucida designs that survived which use prisms, and Camera Obscura designs using lenses, but the particular configuration that Jenison rediscovered using a concave mirror to focus and a flat mirror to view was lost to history, probably because the people using them at the time guarded their guild secrets carefully to restrict competition... Watch the movie, there's no dishonesty there at all. 59ce067264