This is my cheater. My "Tracer Jr. Projector"
Several years ago my son took me to Art Media and told me to get whatever I wanted. (00) "Okay!!" But there was always the thought "oh, its going to add up to too much." I tried to find out just how much he was prepared to spend, but he wouldn't tell me. I think it came up to around $500... and I was conservative. One of the big-ticket items was my easel that was on sale for $250. I really could have gotten a LOT MORE, but I kept myself in check.
As I was heading for the checkout counter I spotted this projector on sale for $35 and I grabbed it. (The price really should have been $10.) Its just a plastic cover with a light bulb and mirror. It has a small range to adjust the image and I can only use small photos. You also need a dark room for the image to shine on the wall or art surface. But its come in handy a few times. And its saved time too... not to mention frustration after erasing a drawing 10,000 times trying to get a likeness.
I've tried not to become dependent upon it and I feel I've been successful. After all, to become dependent would mean I would have to actually draw something. BWAH HA HA HA HA I crack me up sometimes!
I think using a projector is becoming a little more accepted in the art world as long as one doesn't try to fool people. I've checked out some web sites of artists who do portraits from photographs and you can tell a projector was used. But so what... it saves time and one still needs artistic skill and talent to paint a good portrait. A projector just saves time at the beginning.
I wish I had a printer. I've collected some reference material from the web and a projector would help capture it (like Sandy's portrait) but I can't print anything out, so the projector doesn't do any good. (I use to have a printer but at the time I couldn't afford to get any ink ($40 a pop and I'm counting pennies) so I loaned it to one of my daughters.) I just thought of something!! There's other ways I have to get something printed, so I'll be looking into that.
My my... I'm talking too much.