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10 top traditional art tools for December

This month, we've got our usual round up of the best new art books. It includes a look at the career of Mexico's most famous artist (that isn't Frida Kahlo – though it's not far off) whose work feels particularly relevant today. There's a monograph about one of Britain's most innovative comic book artists. And an unusual book by an artist who's really a writer. 

We've got a limited edition Moleskine with a Christmasy cover. We've got a cool arty calendar and diary for 2018. And we're also looking at how to master the fine art of textures – as well as all the tools you need to do it. 

01. Jamie Hewlett monograph (opens in new tab)

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Jamie Hewlett is the British comic book artist behind the iconic Tank Girl, and co-founder (with best mate Damon Albarn) of cartoon band Gorillaz. This new Taschen edition of Hewlett's first major monograph includes 400 pieces from throughout his career – characters, sketches, stories, strips, and loads more. A must-read for budding illustrators. 

02. 101 Textures in Colored Pencil (opens in new tab) 

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101 Textures in Colored Pencil offers, as its very thorough title explains, 'practical step-by-step drawing techniques for rendering a variety of surfaces and textures.' As promised, it's a comprehensive guide to drawing everything from sand and water to foliage and fabrics, as well as the fiddliest texture of them all, hair. It uses coloured pencils, each page focuses on a different texture, and each texture is demonstrated in three steps. 

03. Derwent Academy Colouring Pencils (opens in new tab)

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If you're going to sharpen your texture technique, but need new coloured pencils, try this set from the ever-reliable Derwent: a selection of bright and neutral colours that layer, blend and mix well, and are round-barrelled for better of movement and quickly putting down big blocks of colour. They're very reasonably priced too. For more options, take a look at our roundup of the best pencils for artists (opens in new tab).

04. Ungrateful Mammals (opens in new tab)

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Dave Eggers is best known as a writer (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, A Hologram for the King,The Circle), but he started out as a classically trained draftsman and painter. Eggers worked as a professional illustrator and graphic designer before going into writing. In this book he pairs an animal with witty or Biblical text. The results are very funny, and at times poignant. 

05. Grinch Moleskine (opens in new tab)

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Released earlier this year, this limited edition Moleskine-Dr. Seuss collaboration sees the iconic notebook manufacturer hook up with one of the biggest-selling authors of all time. Theodor Seuss Geisel was pretty handy at drawing too, working as an illustrator and political cartoonist for much of his career. This notebook features his most famous creation, the Grinch. A nice last-minute gift for the illustrator (opens in new tab) in your life (even if that's you). 

06. Tate Pocket Diary 2018 (opens in new tab)

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Our pick as the smartest arty 2018 diary is this from Tate. It includes many iconic pieces by legendary British artist David Hockney. Each month has a different painting – including A Bigger Splash, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, and My Parents. It also has a slim hardback cover and week-to-view layout (plus space for notes on each page), and an envelope at the back 'for storing your exhibition tickets'.

07. Tate Impressionists Calendar 2018 (opens in new tab)

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Tate's reliably brilliant gift shop also offers this calendar, celebrating its recent Impressionists in London at Tate Britain, the story of the artists who fled to Britain to escape war in France. It includes 12 full-page images of pieces by those artists – Cézanne, Monet, Derain and Renoir – with the usual grid display and plenty of space for notes. 

08. Diego Rivera: The Complete Murals (opens in new tab)

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This new book features Diego Rivera's most famous work, plus vintage photos, documents and sketches, many of which were previously unknown to scholars. The painter and muralist is, "A veritable folk hero in Latin America and Mexico's most important artist – along with his wife, painter Frida Kahlo" and celebrates "a passionate life devoted to art and communism." His work, which looks at social inequality, and the relationship of nature, industry, and technology, feels particularly relevant today. 

09. Landscape Painting (opens in new tab)

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This new Taschen release looks at 34 pieces by the masters of landscape painting – Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, John Constable, Claude Monet, David Hockney – with an in-depth essay to introduce the collection. A good read in itself, for beginners and pros alike, but also nice to dip in and out of when looking for inspiration. As with all Taschen books, it's beautifully put together.

10. Royal & Langnickel drawing set (opens in new tab)

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If all those landscapes have got you itching to re-up your traditional art supplies, you could do a lot worse that this perennial favourite from Royal-Langnickel. Particularly good for the beginner or intermediate artist, it's also perfect for anyone who's let their traditional skills slide in recent years. The 134-piece set has everything you need – coloured pencils, charcoal, pastels… Plus the wooden case they all come in is satisfyingly efficient at keeping everything neat and tidy.

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Gary Evans is a journalist with a passion for creative writing. He's recently finished his Masters in creative writing, but when he's not hitting the books, he loves to explore the world of digital art and graphic design. He was previously staff writer on ImagineFX magazine in Bath, but now resides in Sunderland, where he muses on the latest tech and writes poetry.