An Analog Art Tool For Making 3-D Objects Flat

Art teachers face a major challenge when teaching new students to draw: how do you put techniques into words? Concepts like perspective have a visual language, but don’t easily lend themselves to a spoken lesson. Leslie Lienau, an art teacher for 20 years, wished she could teach students how to see before teaching them how to draw. “I wanted to find a way to communicate clearly,” she says.

Which is what her new tool, the Miira View Frame, does. The unassuming device is a rectangular frame, which looks like a cousin to the Etch-A-Sketch, only with flexible rods that move on a track, via magnets, over the face. Adjust the rod’s position to line up with whatever is in the viewfinder–a person, a still life, a landscape–and the device helps translate the 3-D image into a legible flat drawing.

“Using it creates a cognitive connection about the truths of the 3-dimensional world of space, depth, and form,” Lienau says.

The challenge with drawing–or sculpting or painting for that matter–is that our brains get tripped up trying to render 3-D objects onto a 2-D plane. View Frame is like a synapse that helps the mind and hand work in tandem to produce a drawing that doesn’t look morphed. The View Frame can also capture things like linear perspective, such as a road trailing off into the distance, and proportion, think of a dancer mid-pose, with limbs angling off in different directions.

“View Frame naturally becomes a learning tool,” says Lineau, who points out that even the most expert artists can use it to speed up the sketching process. Not to mention product designers or architects who want to put pencil to paper and take a break from the computer.

Get a Miira View Frame for $30, through the company’s Kickstarter campaign.