Introducing, UMBRACAST


Back in 1997, a person named Milton Ferrari, invented and patented an instrument to help calligraphers in their calligraphy work. For example, writing addresses on thick envelopes, writing text on opaque paper, place cards, invitations, etc. This device came as an alternative to the light table that couldn’t help in the situations mentioned above. With that in mind, he came up with a device that could project lines on a sheet of paper. He called this invention PROJETOR DE SOMBRA, translated to English means SHADOW CASTER or SHADOW PROJECTOR.

By using a light source and a guide sheet of lines attached to two supports, you could project lines on the paper, eliminating the need to draw lines directly on the writing surface that later would be erased. Drawing lines, a technique commonly used by calligraphers, although effective is time-consuming. This also sometimes inevitably leaves pencil marks on paper after being erased and could potentially smudge your work. This device not only saves time by not drawing the lines, but makes the process a lot easier, faster and more accurate.

From that, the UMBRACAST was born, a simplification of his original design, but still sturdy, clean and elegant.

The overall idea behind this, is for you to be able to take your caster to an on-site job and still look like a design feature until you turn on the light and magic happens.

At home, it makes it easier to store by simply having it on display in your office or studio.

Why UmbraCast?

UMBRA is a Latin word to describe a conical shadow that excludes all light from a given source, according to Merriam-Webster. Meaning, it’s the darkest part of a shadow, while the remaining shadow is called PENUMBRA which translates to something close to twilight.

In Portugal, the use of the words umbra and penumbra are now a rarity. I remember as a child hearing the word penumbra from my great grandfathers. Nowadays, these words are fading away from our vocabulary.


By having the legs in a C-shape, the orientation clears the sides and makes room for your hands, in case you need to hold the paper close to the caster or if you have a work surface that requires the caster to be on top of it. Also, this design prevents you from accidentally bumping into the device that would require rearranging the work space. Due to its solid construction, the structure of this device offers stability and it will not fall apart.



Redesigning something doesn’t mean we need to lose what is behind. 

For that we decided to keep the wing nut and bolts just,  as it was in the original design. Giving it not only a piece of history, but also an industrial look to it.



The acrylic plays a crucial role, just as important as the legs, because we need to have something to rest the guideline on. To make this a successful product, UmbraCast requires a sturdy material that is clear enough to achieve unobstructed projection. Moreover, it needs stability so it doesn’t bend too much lengthwise. 

After a series of thorough tests, the 5mm crystal-clear acrylic emerged as the best choice and delivered the best result.

We are offering 2 options, a 29-cm length acrylic, good for portrait A4 sheets or C5 envelopes. And a 36-cm length acrylic, for landscape A4 sheets or anything that requires more room in the middle. Personally, I have only used the 29-cm plate for my everyday work and it’s perfect. But if your work demands more than that, we recommend the 36-cm length one!


Light Source

The light source is the glue that holds everything together. A good light source is the key to make this work. Unlike the light table, that any lamp can turn a glass table into a light table, this devices requires a more specific, dedicated lamp.

Over the years i tested hundreds of light bulbs and lamps till i found something good enought for this device. A focused light where the shadow is confined to a single spot and doesn’t spread too much. I found that a small single LED light, without a frosted glass in the front, and ideally with more them 500lm will do the work.

Here are our list of lamps and lightbulbs that will work in a descender order.

If you find any other lamp or light bulb, in your country, that works please let me know and i will add it to this list.

We are also working on a prototype for a lamp, but that will take a little bit longer to  finish.



This lamp is by far the best of all, now, unfortunately it was discontinued, but there are still some available online in some countries. If you have one already, lucky you, if not, try to find one or two.

Color: yellow

Lumens: 1000 + lm

IMPORTANT: don’t get the USB version. It’s not strong enough.


Although it has less lumens, it does the work. You will need to take the front glass/plastic off because it’s a frosted glass and that shatters the light.

Just unscrew the front part, take the glass off and screw it back and it done.

Color: white

Lumens: 290lm


This little lamp doesn’t provide the sharps of the shadows but from what i know, it’s easy to find, and it’s a very cheap lamp. It comes with a G4 7W 95lm light that i suggest to replace with a G4 14w 230lm. the max is 20w so if you can find one with more lumens the better.

Color: yellow

Lumens: 230lm

Distance and Increment

Distance between the light source and the caster can alter the dimensions of the projected lines and the sharpness of the line. 

From what we worked on, a minimum distance of 60cm between the light source and the guide line is necessary. This will give an increment of the x-height of +/- 0,5mm, so if the grid is 3mm x-height, the projection will be +/- 3,5mm.

Generally i like to work in the office with my lamp 1,3meters away from it because it gives me a really sharp line, almost like it was printed on the paper. The increment is close to +/- 0,1mm, so in the case of a grid with 3mm x-height, the projection will be +/- 3,1mm.

More information will be added to this page shortly

Drop us a line if you are interested in the UMBRACAST

Artwork/Content Copyright © All rights reserved –  Telmo Nunes Caligrafia  2022