January's round up of the best new tools for artists is all about fresh starts and looking forward to the year ahead. We've got stuff to help you improve productivity, be more organised, learn new skills and sharpen old ones. We've searched the web for cool new releases and January-themed stuff that'll give your art a boost in 2017.
If you don't know Jock's name, you'll know his art. He's the artist behind one of the best comic covers ever, and he recently published his debut art book. We've got a tool to help you draw like Jock, and supplies to help you learn or relearn traditional art fundamentals.
We've got some stylish pieces of design that can help declutter your workspace for the year ahead, details of the latest release from Wacom, and a cheaper alternative for those who already have an iPad. Plus we're looking forward to one of the best live art events in 2017 – in Florence! So, whether you're just learning and paint, or a seasoned pro, there's something here for everyone.
01. The Art of Jock
This month's must-have art book comes from Jock. The British comic book artist – real name Mark Simpson – has worked for 2000AD, Marvel and DC. He created one the most iconic covers in recent memory, a brilliant and terrifying vision of the Joker for Detective Comics #880. Jock's also created art for movies such as Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Dredd, Star Wars: Episode VIII, and the Oscar-winning Ex Machina. The Art of Jock looks back over his career.
We asked Jock if he has a favourite tool, something he uses to achieve his unique look. He said, "Every comic page I’ve ever drawn has been drawn with a Rotring Art Pen, with an extra-fine nib." There you have it. Buy this pen and you too will be able to draw as well as the man himself. We're pretty sure that's how it works, anyway.
03. Smug notebooks
Depending on how you're doing with your new year's resolutions, these notebooks either offer a bit of encouragement, or they smugly remind you of your shortcomings. Either way, they're nicely put together – handmade, covered with 270gsm colorplan art card and lined with a 150gsm recycled paper. Each book in this pack of three has its own heading: Sketch More Ideas; Sketch More Dreams; Sketch More Thoughts. They're also better value than competitors at £8.50.
A dirty old coffee cup is fine for storing pens and paintbrushes. But to keep the important stuff organised – with a touch a style – a British company designed this cracking desk tidy set. Created by Man Gun Bear, based in The New Forest, the set feature a modular design made of solid walnut. It includes: mini stash bowl (for coins, keys), peg tidy (wallets, notebooks, paperwork), slot tidy (phone, business cards), two-pocket tray (USB sticks, memory cards) and a pen pot (pens, glasses).
05. Schoolism Live
If you've already got one eye on your 2017 summer getaway, you could do a lot worse than sign up to Schoolism Live. This year's event takes place in Florence and includes Jesper Ejsing teaching how to create a narrative with illustration, Paul Lasaine sharing three killer painting techniques and Claire Wendling performing a live demo. There's lots of other stuff going on too! You can buy tickets to individual days or an all-access pass priced at a very reasonable €299. Plus – you'll be in Florence! On sale now.
If you're new year's resolution is to brush up on your art fundamentals, then Faber Castell's new's set has everything you need to get going. The wooden case – made of wenge stained wood – makes this a bit of a luxury buy, but the supplies contained within it offer everything you need to produce traditional art to a professional standard. The set includes pencils, pastels, charcoal and more.
This book is A-Z directory of the stars of Manga – both real and fictional. The book "delivers the lowdown on the latest and the greatest makers and shapers of the manga scene" and includes legends like Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy) and Katsuhiro Otomo (creator of Akira), alongside newcomers such as Hajime Isayama. Each profile features biographical and bibliographical information, descriptions of characters, and stacks of cool art. This being published by Taschen, the production values are superb. A must-have for manga fans!
The Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition – launched this month – is perfect for those artists who like to get a project going on paper. Ink drawings are instantly captured and saved – no more scanning – so you can refine them digitally later on. It includes a paper clip so you can attached your preferred paper, then a pressure-sensitive, finetip gel ink pen, together and the Wacom Inkspace App, moves drawings directly into your creative software.
09. Astropad Studio
This month, second-screen iPad app Astropad launched a new premium version of its drawing suite. Astropad Studio allows you to use your iPad to draw directly into Photoshop. It connects through Wi-Fi or USB, and essentially turns your iPad into a high-end graphics tablet. There are monthly and yearly subscription prices, but there's also free seven-day trial available. It's a cool alternative for those who have an iPad already and can't afford to invest in a separate graphics tablet.
While we're talking iPads, this copper stand is an easy way to smarten up your workspace. The stand is handmade in Brighton by the Proper Copper Company, using pure copper and brass. The simple design comes in two finishes: natural copper – "which will tarnish gradually over time, darkening in colour to a variety of rustic tones" – or a satin Finish, which is polished and lacquered so it shines.