One tool that most illustrators (of a certain age) couldn’t live without was the Luci, short for Lucidigraph. It’s essentially a projector. It has a little loading bay that you put a photograph or drawing into. You then turn the lamp on and the Luci projects the image down upon your drawing table surface. It’s a huge timesaver and guarantees that you’re faithfully reproducing (in contour lines) whatever your subject is.
When my wife and I recently moved into a new home I got rid of several things in my illustration studio. Oddly, the only one I got a little misty-eyed about was my Luci. At this point she was about 34 years old. The Luci pictured in my accompanying illustration looks just like the one I had. She had been with me from the beginning of my freelance career. She had seen better days, but she had also helped me create a lot of really cool illustration over the years. When I took her to the landfill it felt like the last scene in Old Yeller.
I do have a brand new Luci. It’s a lot smaller. It works well, but it somehow doesn’t feel the same. I still love my old Luci.