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Lasar's Angle Measurement Device

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Lasar's Angle Measurement Device

Lasar's Angle Measurement Device
In 1891, artist Charles Lasar patented this device to help draw angles accurately. The device consists of a wood frame with a screw eye (B) attached on the inside of the frame, halfway along one of the inside edges. A plumb bob (C) hangs from that screw eye, with the free end stretched across a series of graduated angle marks radiating from point B. 

Lasar's Angle Measurement DeviceLasar describes how to use it: "The frame is held up vertically, so as to show within its outlines the object to be drawn—in this case a house. The plumb-line is brought parallel with one corner of the house or the chimney and thus maintains the frame in a vertical position. Now look through the screw eye at the apex of the gable and bring the loose string to coincide with the left line of the roof. Holding the string against the frame, lay the frame over the drawing-paper and trace thereon the direction of this roof-line. Get the other gable line in the same way, then the ridge-line, and so on, as may be necessary, and the resulting drawing must be correct in perspective."

Previously: Charles "Shorty" Lasar on Posing a Model

See also: Practical Hints for Art Students by Charles Lasar, 1910. (Free edition on Google Books)

Thanks, Kev and Linda
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10 Comments on Gurney Journey: Lasar's Angle Measurement Device

  • Kelly Toon
    on November 01, 2016 | 11:07 Kelly Toonsaid :
    "This post seems like a good one to share this video https://instagram.com/p/BLQ2R8UjG7-/ have you ever used this technique? The artist used an elastic thread to achieve complicated perspective drawings. Mesmerizing to watch and seems very practical!"
  • Robert Michael Walsh
    on November 01, 2016 | 13:59 Robert Michael Walshsaid :
    "Kelly Toon: Thanks for the video link. A great tool idea."
  • Willow's Quiet Corner
    on November 01, 2016 | 22:32 Willow's Quiet Cornersaid :
    "I think it is amazing all the devices that have been invented for creating art. So simple, yet something I had never thought of trying! :)"
  • Tom Hart
    on November 02, 2016 | 10:50 Tom Hartsaid :
    "I'm not getting this, despite several re-readings. I don't see how it could possibly work for all the gable and ridgeline angles...unless - does one move the eyelet to the apex of whatever angle you're sighting?"
  • James Gurney
    on November 02, 2016 | 11:05 James Gurneysaid :
    "Thanks for asking that, Tom, because it focuses a question that sort of bothered me when I first saw this. I think I regarded this at first as a viewfinder, and wondered what kind of composition it might be if the top corner of the building had to be positioned where they eyelit is. But I think it's really more like a protractor, just a device for checking angles, like the familiar "sloping pencil" method. So yes, as I understand it, "you move the eyelet to the apex of whatever angle you're sighting," and you would figure out your composition some other way.

    One limitation of this device is that it assumes the picture plane is vertical. In an upshot or downshot the plumb bob would not work right, and the angles would not be accurate."
  • Tom Hart
    on November 02, 2016 | 11:10 Tom Hartsaid :
    "Thanks James. It does seem to only make sense as a sort of elaborate "sloping pencil" method. Not that there's anything wrong with that...it just seems like a complicated way to get to that same result, unless one needs a higher degree of precision. But so far I'm not sure that it offers that."
  • James Gurney
    on November 02, 2016 | 11:18 James Gurneysaid :
    "I agree. The sloping pencil method works pretty well, especially if the plane of your painting matches the angle of view and you don't have to turn your head too much to the side.
    I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has tried one of Lasar's devices."
  • kev ferrara
    on November 02, 2016 | 11:28 kev ferrarasaid :
    "A wonder just how many contraptions, in the grand, lengthy history of Art, were ever actually worthwhile? It seems only the very simplest-designed instruments ever find long term usage.

    This might go for art instruction as well... that only the simplest aphorisms or principles are used or useful over the long haul."
  • Tom Hart
    on November 02, 2016 | 11:37 Tom Hartsaid :
    "Good point kev. I'm sure there's a natural selection element at play on art "aids". What works has stayed with us. Probably there are comparatively few things that, if re-"discovered" would be of much value."
  • Dr Purva Pius
    on November 03, 2016 | 22:59 Dr Purva Piussaid :
    "This comment has been removed by a blog administrator."
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