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The best new illustration tools for July 2018

Creating digital art isn't only about picking the best drawing tablet (opens in new tab) or finding the right digital art software (opens in new tab) in which you create. It's also about finding inspiration, learning new drawing techniques (opens in new tab), and finding ways to deal with the issues many professional artists face.

In this month's tools round-up for digital artists, we take a look at a variety of tools you can use to help improve your work.

01. Tayasui Sketches (opens in new tab)

While there are plenty of great drawing apps for the iPad (opens in new tab) (or other tablets), fewer good apps exist for those that want to draw on smaller devices, like the iPhone. Luckily, for those of us who like to create on the go, there's Tayasui Sketches (opens in new tab).

Tayasui Sketches – available for iOS, Android and macOS – gives you everything you need to create professional sketches and drawings: unlimited layers, acrylic brushes, gradients and patterns, and even a watercolour brush. Best of all, it works great on smaller devices! Apple fans can also take a look at our roundup of more great iPhone apps for designers (opens in new tab).

02. 01ArtSchool (opens in new tab)

  • Price: From free

In 2013, K. Michael Russell started his YouTube channel, where he offers free digital art tutorials. In May 2014, he launched his first online course. Since then, more than 3,000 students in 137 countries have taken his online courses.

Russell offers full courses and tutorials on Photoshop and Procreate – find a full list of learning resources on his website, 01ArtSchool. His most recent tutorial, Comic Coloring (above), includes a complete walkthrough of how he coloured the cover for Loathsome Tales #2. For more tips on this, take a look at our guide to how to colour comics (opens in new tab).

03. Tips for overcoming artistic burnout

Aaron Rutten (opens in new tab) is a digital art instructor offering digital art courses and tutorials. In addition to video instruction, Rutten also includes information about digital art tools and tips for creative professionals. In one recent video, he offers advice on overcoming artistic burnout. 

04. Procreate update (opens in new tab)

Procreate update on the ipad

Recently updated to 4.1, Procreate (opens in new tab) is quickly becoming the de facto standard for creating digital art on your iPad. This latest update – the biggest so far – makes it possible to do Live Symmetry, Warp Transforms, Automatic, Layer Select, and more.

05. Procreate Pocket (opens in new tab)

Procreate pocket screenshots

If you're a fan of Procreate, and you're looking for a similar tool for your iPhone, take a look at Procreate Pocket. Procreate Pocket is the iPhone version of the widely popular Procreate, and it's just as powerful. Powered by Silica-M, the same industry-leading Metal engine that powers Procreate for iPad, Procreate Pocket comes stuffed with features such as a full layering system, over 135 brushes and haptic integration.

06. Creating Stylized Characters

image of creating stylized characters book and spreads

Whether you're a concept artist responsible for creating fresh, new character designs (opens in new tab) for film, or a video game artist putting together your next platformer game, Creating Stylized Characters will help you out. This book, published by 3dtotal Publishing, has everything you need to help you create and draw all sorts of characters.

The book covers both digital and traditional media. You'll learn about the character development process, including real-world research, and sketching gestures and poses. You'll even get to explore different genres, personalities and styles. 

07. Shading Techniques (opens in new tab)

shading techniques spread

Here's another book to add to your collection: Drawing Dimension's Shading Techniques by Catherine V. Holmes. Shading is one of the easiest ways of adding depth, contrast, character and movement to your drawings. And just because you're working digitally doesn't mean you can skip learning shading techniques.

The more you understand how pencil pressure and stroke work in traditional media, the better you’ll be able to master it in the digital world. This book also covers lighting and blending techniques to help enhance your work.

08. 100 Tuesday Tips

100 tuesday tips book

Quite possibly the most used art technique book in my collection is this one by Griz & Norm, aka Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay and Normand Lemay. This husband and wife duo from Walt Disney Animation Studios put together a collection of art techniques for drawing, painting, animation and illustration. This book includes 100 tips that every artist needs to know about.

09. Affinity Designer for iPad (opens in new tab)

affinity designer for ipad with apple pencil

This month's list ends with something exciting: Affinity Designer for iPad (opens in new tab). When Affinity Photo for iPad was released last year, many of us wondered when its vector-based Designer companion was coming. Thankfully, the wait is over.

Affinity Designer has everything you'd expect in a professional graphics designer app: vector tools, raster tools for texturing, Artboards, symbols, constraints, stored assets, and more. So what are you waiting for?

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Tammy is an independent creative professional, author of Apple Game Frameworks and Technologies (opens in new tab), and the maker behind the AdventureGameKit (opens in new tab) – a custom SpriteKit framework for building point and click adventure games. As an innovative problem solver and industry leader, Tammy enjoys working on projects from content creation – including books, tutorials, videos, and podcasts – to the design and development of cross-platform applications and games. For Creative Bloq, she has written about an array of subjects, including animation, web design and character design.