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10 fantastic new tools for traditional artists this April

A brilliant new pocket guide to manga art (opens in new tab) inspired us to seek out the best tools around for those looking to master the form, in this month's round up. We picked out the best quality paper around, and a pack of professional-level pens that won't break the bank.

Elsewhere, we get stuck into modern, illustrative mapmaking – skills that teach you how to draw (opens in new tab) your favourite places. We look at a new book exploring masterpieces that were lost, stolen and destroyed. We get introspective with an essential text on the self-portrait. Finally, another new release encourages you take on ‘sketch dares’. Let’s get started!

01. Tattoos for geeks

All the nerdiest tatts around

All the nerdiest tatts around
(opens in new tab)

Geek Ink (opens in new tab) is a tattoo coffee table book with a bit of a difference. Inkstinct (opens in new tab) is a project that connects 380,000 tattoo studios worldwide. Its new title shows off the best tattoo art (opens in new tab) that references fantasy and sci-fi themes, maths, science, literature and philosophy, and their creators discuss how they drew them. It's the "definitive tattoo inspiration sourcebook" for geeks. 

02. Stolen, looted, destroyed

This book celebrates the greatest artwork that didn't make it to the modern day

This book celebrates the greatest artwork that didn't make it to the modern day
(opens in new tab)

Noah Charney wrote bestseller The Art of Forgery (opens in new tab). For his new book, The Museum of Lost Art (opens in new tab), he returns to the art underworld and looks at work that was stolen, looted or destroyed in war. Some pieces featured here were accidentally lost, others damaged in natural disasters, and others still destroyed because of the images they carried. Most remarkable of all are the masterpieces recycled for their materials.

03. Art for bookworms

Learn how books are used symbolically within art

Learn how books are used symbolically within art
(opens in new tab)

"As every book tells a story, every book in art is part of an intriguing, engaging, and relatable image." In Reading Art: Art for Book Lovers (opens in new tab), David Trigg looks into how books in art are used as symbols and subjects in their own right. He considers pieces from museums all over the world in an "homage to both the written word and to its pivotal role in the visual world”. One for both art geeks and bookworms.

04. Modern mapmaking

A step-by-step guide to modern cartography

A step-by-step guide to modern cartography
(opens in new tab)

In The Art of Map Illustration (opens in new tab), four artists guide you through a step-by-step exploration of contemporary cartography and mapmaking. They share their own approaches and techniques, using pen and ink, watercolour, mixed media, and digital processes. They recommended the best tools and materials for drawing intricate maps that tell stories about your favourite cities. 

05. Outdoor sketch kit

Everything you need to go en plein air

Everything you need to go en plein air
(opens in new tab)

This outdoor sketching kit (opens in new tab) is put together by ever-reliable brand Derwent, so it's good quality gear, but it won't break the bank. The wallet contains graphite, water-soluble, onyx, and charcoal pencils, plus an eraser, a blender, a sharpener, and an A5 sketchpad: everything you need to get outdoors and get started on your mapmaking. For top tips, take a look at our guide to en plein air painting (opens in new tab).

06. Level-up your manga

A neat but comprehensive guide to Japanese comic art

A neat but comprehensive guide to Japanese comic art
(opens in new tab)

The Little Book of Manga Drawing (opens in new tab) contains everything you need to know about how to draw manga (opens in new tab). It starts with the fundamentals of the form, basic techniques like heads and bodies and proportions, before moving onto to props, colour, costumes, and storytelling. It contains practice pages, creative exercises, and art prompts, so there's something for artists of every level. A small but comprehensive guide to Japanese comic art. 

07. Pro-level manga pens

These pens are colourfast and won't bleed or smudge

These pens are colourfast and won't bleed or smudge
(opens in new tab)

These Faber-Castell pens (opens in new tab) are perfect for manga art. They're colourfast and don't bleed or smudge, so they're perfect for character line work. The pack contains a range of blacks and greys, and various tips ranging from rigid to brush-like. A good stepping stone for anyone looking to move towards professional-level pens, but at an affordable price. 

08. Quality manga paper

Canson is a leading brand for manga art paper

Canson is a leading brand for manga art paper
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If you're going to get stuck into manga art, you need some nice heavyweight paper to work on. Canson is one of the leading brands for comic and manga art paper. This Comic/Manga sketchpad (opens in new tab) isn't cheap – you only get 50 sheets – but you're paying for quality and, in particular, its all-important resistance to erasing and scraping. 

09. The art of the self-portrait

The best self-portraits ever created, in one place

The best self-portraits ever created, in one place
(opens in new tab)

Art book publisher Phaidon has given this classic 80-year-old text a reworking. 500 Self-Portraits (opens in new tab) has been revised for the first time in two decades. It's been given a smart new cover and layers, but still contains the best self-portraits every produced, across various periods and disciplines, plus essays on what they say about the artists who made them. 

10. Sketch dares

Push your sketching skills with this book of artistic dares

Push your sketching skills with this book of artistic dares
(opens in new tab)

Laura Lee Gulledge dares you – she dares you; she double-double dares you – to do things like draw out a feeling, sketch a piece of music, and represent yourself by drawing five objects. There are 24 dares in Sketchbook Dares (opens in new tab). Some encourage you to get out and interact with the world around you, while others are more abstract.

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