December's round up of the best new tools for artists and illustrator is all about learning new skills and sharpening old ones. If you've ever fancied learning how to draw, in particular, trying your hand at manga, Letraset have introduced a great new beginners set.
Learning or relearning still life is a quick way to take your work up a notch or two – Royal & Langnickel have everything you need to do that. And taking lessons in character design from one of the best in the business, Wouter Tulp, is more affordable than you might think. There's also a kit that promises to speed canvas making, a gadget that turns any room into an art gallery, and a rebooted app that will help you quickly create unique portrait references.
This new pack from Letraset is the perfect set of pens for anyone who fancies getting into manga. It includes six twin-tip markers in various colours, a black fine-liner for detail work, paper, drawing templates and a how-to guide. Letraset also make expansion packs, so as your skills grow, you can add more tools to your collection.
While we're talking Japanese character design, Moleskine have released a limited edition collection of Hello Kitty sketchbooks to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary. This version – large, 21x13cm – contains 240 Pages of ivory-coloured, acid-free paper. A must-have for collectors – just like the limited edition Harry Potter Moleskines, released earlier this year.
Electric Objects has updated it's innovative digital art display screen. It works like this: connect the EO2 to WiFi, download the free app, then search for and display art on the 1080p matte display screen. The screen easily mounts to the wall or can be propped up on your desk. You have the option to display a new art whenever you want – either your own, one of 30,000 community-uploaded artworks.
Brunzyeel put together a series of pencil sets inspired by the art of Vermeer and Rembrandt. They contain colours and grades selected to mirror the work of the Dutch Masters. Brunzyeel pencils are specially designed for those who like to build colour in layers. This set includes 24 pencils, in a tin which features Vermeer's Milkmaid. There are several others to collect.
Whether you're new to art or looking to sharpen up your fundamentals, this Royal & Langnickel still life set comes with everything but a bowl of fruit: 12 colour pencils, 12 compressed colour sticks, three blending stumps, a drawing pad, a sandpaper block, a sharpener and an eraser. It all comes nicely packaged in an aluminium tin too – so it's handy to take to classes.
The "clever lever" included in this canvas kit promises to cuts traditional stretching time in half. The canvas comes pre-attached to a stretcher bar and also includes corner and cross braces and screws – plus instructions to keep you right. They're 100% cotton duck canvas, double-primed with acid-free titanium gesso, so you can use them for acrylic or oil painting. They're available in loads of different sizes too, but are particular good if you work on oversized stuff.
One of Creative Bloq's favourite illustrators, Raphael Lacoste, has a new art book. Worlds showcases a ton of personal pieces, including illustrations, mood paintings and sketches, alongside his best commercial work – book covers, concept art, matte paintings and artwork created for the Assassin's Creed franchise. A must-have for fans of fantasy and sci-fi art.
This new course from online educator Schoolism gives you the chance to learn character design from a master. Over nine-week Wouter Tulp will show you how create more believable characters – focusing on proportion, dimensionality and facial expressions among other things. Each lesson you'll create a character, based on the skills you've learned, which Wouter will then critique.
Tickets are now on sale for the annual IAMAG Master Classes. The event is a chance to meet and learn from some of the best digital artists in the world, and gives you the opportunity to show off your portfolio and even win some work. The 2017 line up includes Marc Simonetti, Raphael Lacoste, Ian McQue, and many more artists, art director and studio heads. For those who can't drop everything to fly off to Paris, cheaper virtual tickets are also available.
10. Facetune 2
Facetune is often called a selfie app, but it's more than. It's a photo editing app, and a pretty powerful one, considering you can carry it around in your pocket. What makes it an interesting proposition for artists is – with automatic 3D meshing built in – the way you can dramatically transform a photo of yourself or someone else to create unique references for portrait work or character design.