5 best new illustration tools for March

Tammy Coron nods you in the direction of five new - or updated - tools that will improve illustrators' lives this month.

If you work in illustration – or other areas of graphic design and art – you're probably too busy with a logo design or your latest mood board to keep tabs on the latest apps and tools available to help you work, rest and play. But Creative Bloq is here to help, and I have scoured the web to bring you this month's best illustration tools.

While some of these are certainly not new, many were recently updated, or are new to me; regardless, all are invaluable, and I highly recommend adding them to your arsenal of illustrator tools and toys.

01. Paintstorm Studio (version 1.52)

5 best new illustration tools for March 2016

Paintstorm is causing a storm in the design world
  • Category: Software
  • Platform: Windows, Mac OS, iOS (iPad)
  • $12.99/£9.99 (iPad)

Paintstorm Studio comes packed with features such as the ability to create your own custom panels. You can build them quickly and easily, keeping handy only the tools you use most. This helps to keep your workspace clutter-free.

Close gap is also a cool feature. Like most programs, you can define your own custom hotkeys. However, Paintstorm Studio allows you to define three separate sets of hotkeys based on your individual projects.

The brushes are nothing short of amazing. Top it off with an automatic vanishing point perspective tool, and you have one heck of an amazing app.

02. Astropad Graphics Tablet (version 1.3)

5 best new illustration tools for March 2016

Turn your iPad into a Wacom with this great piece of software

Astropad Graphics Tablet turns your iPad into a drawing tablet for Mac. In fact, it works so well I almost categorized this as 'hardware' instead of software.

Recently updated to better support the Apple Pencil, Astropad Graphics Tablet allows you to connect to your Mac using Wi-Fi and USB. Once connected, you can use all of the tools on your desktop, like Photoshop and Illustrator while drawing directly on your iOS device.

03. Hideaway Case for iPad Pro 12.9

5 best new illustration tools for March 2016

I'm bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher…

I've been using the Hideaway Case for a few weeks now and I absolutely love it. Not only is it rugged, but it has a built-in pocket for the Apple Pencil.

The case is made of an impact resistant, dual-layer silicone/polycarbonate material. With reinforced rubber corners, I feel confident I won't break my iPad anytime soon – despite how clumsy I am. It also offers a built-in, multi-angle stand that allows me the illustrate without having to hold the iPad on my lap or with it flat on the table.

The only drawback with the Hideaway case is that it's not currently compatible with the Apple Smart Keyboard. It also doesn't include a screen cover.

For me, as an illustrator, having the pocket for my Apple Pencil was more important than supporting the keyboard. As for the lack of a screen cover: this was also not an issue. In fact, it might even be better since I was able to apply my favorite tempered glass screen cover instead.

04. Assembly (version 1.1.2)

5 best new illustration tools for March 2016

Assembly vector design app is a time-saving boon for illustrators
  • Category: Software
  • Platform: iOS (iPad/iPhone)
  • $Free/£Free

With over 180 shapes included, and not specifically for 'illustrators', Assembly is one of the easiest design tools I've had the opportunity to use.

Assembly is a vector design app for iOS. It's available for both the iPad and the iPhone – which is amazing since it's not often you get to see such a powerful drawing app on the iPhone.

In addition to its powerful tools/features like smart snapping, adjust fill, stroke and shadow, Assembly offers devices syncing with iCloud. You can also easily share high resolution JPEG, PNG and SVG output. There's also an option to share editable Assembly projects.

As one of the few vector design apps still living on my devices, I highly recommend downloading it.

05. Paper by FiftyThree (version 3.5.0)

5 best new illustration tools for March 2016

Paper has been around for a while, but it keeps getting better and better
  • Category: Software
  • Platform: iOS (iPad/iPhone)
  • $Free/£Free

Paper by FiftyThree is another app that recently received an update. The new update introduces automatic text formatting, as well as the ability to send text and photos, from other apps, directly to Paper.

With Paper, you can sketch just about anything. But you can also use Paper to take notes. Having been a fan of Paper since day one, this new update – along with previous ones – shows how committed the developers are to making an excellent drawing app.

That does it for this roundup. Let us know what tools your using – it's always nice to discover something new.

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Tammy Coron is an iOS developer, backend developer, web developer, writer, and illustrator. She blogs at Just Write Code.