Digital Tracing Pens?

Anyone using a digital tracing pen to copy paper or wood patterns to put into their computer?
I am looking for an easier way to make plastic follower templates for use on my copy lathe.
Traced jpegs of the digital images come out very rough even after touching them up in Illustrator.

Like a Wacom tablet?

Tracing isn’t as nice since Wacom stopped doing their tracing pucks.

The easiest way to trace is take a square photo including a ruler, then place the photo on the background and redraw:

Yeah I have tried the photo with the ruler trick. The photos tend to get warped by the camera lens. This is not just a camera problem. When I have staples scan my drawings they get warped and have to be triple checked. Even with tweeking in Photoshop and CC they don’t come out as accurate as I would like.
I would love to be able to trace and digitize my many years worth of hand drafted plans with some sort of affordable solution.

Get a good quality flatbed scanner to make the scans — distortion should be practically nil.

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The longer focal length lens you can use, the flatter the image will be. If you have a zoom lens, you are better off further away (and zoomed in) than close (and zoomed out). A tripod, or really any solid surface, would help reduce camera shake visible at long focal lengths. Of course, you want the camera square to the image as well.

There are numerous digitizing tablets on the market, not cheap, but affordable. Take up lots of space. Not mobile. Limited by the size of the tablet.

Photos are used quite extensively, photogrammetry programs take care of all your distortions and artifacts. Not exactly easy to use. I haven’t come across a great open source or affordable option for templating, but I am sure it exists.

There are laser templating systems. But across the various industries I’ve been involved in, a stylus templating system is pretty much standard (photogrammetry is now pretty common too if your environment allows for it). Doesn’t take up much space. Mobile. 3D capable. No practical size limitation. I think they start around $30k these days.

I have lots of templates scanned at the office store using their large format scanner. It will occasionally feed funny and distort, but I always ask them to run it a few times. It’s worked well enough for me. Certainly cheaper than $30k.

If you find something neat, I’d love to hear about it.

The only opensource option I can think of is using a constraint-based solver and making lots of measurements. Does SolveSpace suit your needs?

If you’re taking the measurements though, easy enough to impose them:

If you are willing to pay, then a digitizer tablet may be for you.

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With a decent camera (i.e. DSLR, mirrorless or decent compact), any lens distortion should be corrected by the camera, you just need to do some keystone correction in something like Photoshop or GIMP.

An quick and easy alternative to photogrammetry, if your details are sufficiently large and you own an iPhone, is to use a scanner app like Heges, which uses the LIDAR (iPhone 12 or later) or FaceID sensor to build a depth map.

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These are all great ideas. I am going to start experimenting and let you know what I find.
I had priced out one of those large format tracing tablets and it is way more than I am willing to spend. So it will be camera set ups and Photoshop for me right now.

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