This month's hot new tools for illustrators include a variety of digital and traditional tools. Here we've found some of the best pencils, erasers, pen displays and accessories. Plus, we've even found some useful tools for learning how to improve your drawing and illustration techniques.
The prices given here are full retail prices, rounded up appropriately. If you're interested in buying any of these illustrating tools, click on the prices to go to Amazon or look around for the best price (our site's price comparison tool has found deals for a couple of these, which you'll see in orange boxes).
If you have a tablet for sketching and illustrating on – unless you have a Surface Pro with its own kickstand – it's a good idea to get a stand for it, to help you angle it better. This Lamicall stand works with any devices – we used it with an iPhone 7 and iPad Pro. The base has a low centre of gravity, which gives the stand increased stability. It's also currently on sale for $18.99/£15.99 on Amazon.
If you're looking for an all-round great pencil set, check out these from Derwent. This set of 24 graphic pencils contains a full range from 9B to 9H. Although the pencils come with a metal holding tin, you're better off getting another case. The metal tin is a bit of a drag to use as the pencils don't always come out easily, and it's often difficult to see which ones you're grabbing. The pencils themselves are great, though.
If you plan on combining traditional and digital methods, you'll likely start your sketch on paper and then scan it into your computer (see our guide to learn how to transform a pencil sketch in Photoshop). That being the case, it's helpful to use a non-photo blue pencil. This one from Prismacolor is excellent. The lines are nice and bold, yet still soft enough that they're not picked up when scanning.
This 43.2 x 35.6cm (14 x 17-inch) wirebound notebook works well with pencils, inks, and markers. Whether you plan to scan your drawing or you decide to go hand-drawn with the whole piece on the page, the Strathmore 400 Series Drawing pad is a fine choice.
You can't go wrong with Staedtler Mars plastic erasers. Although the Mars plastic erasers tend to leave a few more crumbs than other erasers, they're still top-notch. Besides, you can't beat the price.
Speaking about price, here's a Wacom Cintiq with a price-point that most illustrators can handle. This 'entry-level' Cintiq is perfect for new artists or artists who can't yet afford one of the larger, more robust models. Coming in at just under $1,000/£900 full price, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 features HD resolution (1920 x 1080px), the Wacom Pro Pen 2, and multi-touch control.
If you're looking for a way to enhance your Wacom experience and make your workflow more efficient, check out the Wacom Express Key Remote. The Wacom Express Key Remote offers 17 customisable buttons and a Touch Ring – all of which allow you to set up and assign shortcuts within your creative software applications.
Although the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 comes with a built-in stand, the Kensington SmartFit Easy Riser cooling stand – which is one of the stands recommended by Wacom – adds a nice touch. This stand offers a 50 degree tilt angle and padded inserts to help keep your device in place. As an added bonus, you can use this stand for your laptop, too!
$14.99 per month
SVSLearn offers high-quality tutorials and live webinars for artists and illustrators. If your budget is small and your desire to learn is big, SVSLearn has you covered. (Note: I've been a longtime member of SVSLearn, and I can't recommend it enough.)
Strathmore, Christopher Hart, and other professional artists team up to bring us these super cool art learning drawing pads. The Strathmore 200 Learning Series Drawing Pads include 30 step-by-step lessons, a few pages of tips and tricks, and several blank practice sheets. Also, each lesson has enough room to practice alongside on the same page. This one covers drawing cartoons, but there are many others in the series (as the video above shows). See more on the Strathmore Learning Series website.