I recently discovered a handy pocket-size tool that would make the perfect stocking stuffer for any aspiring artist…
It’s called a “ViewCatcher“. At first glance, you might assume it’s just a viewfinder, but it’s actually much more than just that!
What the ViewCatcher does
Like any good viewfinder, the ViewCatcher will help you create a strong composition.
When beginning a drawing or painting, or taking a photograph, you need to make decisions about how to crop or “frame” your subject onto your paper or canvas. How much space will it fill or leave empty? Does it touch any of the edges?
Choosing what to include or leave out from a busy still life arrangement or expansive landscape is easier when you can isolate your selection from everything around it. Looking at your subject through a viewfinder will help you visualize how to make it “fit” your paper or canvas.
It’s easy to make your own viewfinder to help you isolate the composition you want. But the ViewCatcher has some unique features that I believe make it well worth the purchase.
What makes the ViewCatcher different?
First of all, it’s adjustable!
To get the most benefit from a viewfinder, its proportion should match that of your paper or canvas. The ViewCatcher has a sliding panel that allows you to adjust the size/proportion of its opening. It even has markings on the edges of the opening so you can quickly adjust it for standard sizes 8″ x 10″, 8″ x 12″, 9″ x 12″, 11″ x 14″, or 12″ x 16″. Working with a different size? Simply position three edges of your paper or canvas inside the window and slide the panel until it “touches” the final edge.
You can adjust the ViewCatcher to a horizontal or vertical rectangular format, or to a square. Or, experiment with cropping your subject in different formats and choose the one(s) you like best.
The neutral gray color will help you identify values
The ViewCatcher itself is a middle range gray color, which makes it easy to distinguish light, middle, and dark values accurately. Identifying a range of values is important to a strong composition, and with this tool, it’s a much more objective process.
It has a small opening for isolating colors
You might have noticed the small, round opening in the sliding panel. The purpose of this opening is to isolate a single color so you can examine it by itself against the middle gray value. This is super helpful when you want to get the value of a color (how light or dark it is) and its temperature (warm or cool) just right.
It’s waterproof, durable, and easy to take with you
The ViewCatcher is made of sturdy ABS plastic so it won’t be damaged if it gets wet or dropped accidentally. It’s small enough to fit in your back pocket or toss in with your other supplies, making it more likely you’ll have it with you when you need it.
How to use the ViewCatcher
- First, adjust the opening to the format you want.
- Hold the ViewCatcher either up close or out at arm’s length, depending on how small or large you want your subject to be.
- Next, close one eye and look through the opening as you move it around until you find a composition that works.
- Then, identify your values by comparing them to the mid-gray of the ViewCatcher. Ask yourself if each one is lighter, darker, or the same value as that of your ViewCatcher.
- Finally, isolate any colors you want to focus on by examining each one through the small, round opening.
It’s as easy as that! It also comes with a helpful 6-page booklet with specific tips for landscape, still-life, and portrait painters, as well as photographers.
To eliminate distractions, identify values, and create strong compositions every time, you really can’t go wrong with a ViewCatcher. It would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for anyone who wants to create better artwork!
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