Your best friend, or close relative, is a digital artist. The best present you’ve ever managed to think of for them was a graphic novel, or perhaps a framed print.
Now is the time to right these previous wrongs and find some incredible gifts that the digital artist in your life will really appreciate and be able to use. Want to stand out? This is how you do it — and they’ll love you for it, guaranteed.
Software for Digital Artists
Chances are that your digital artist is already using Adobe Photoshop and/or Adobe Illustrator. But they may be hamstrung by an older version and are yet to investigate the possibilities of a digital subscription to the most recent releases.
Adobe Creative Cloud is the top choice here, offering three types of subscription for individuals: Photography (restricted to Photoshop and Lightroom), Single App (pick any of Adobe’s creative apps) and Complete (the full creative suite), with monthly and pre-paid annual subscription rates on offer, ranging from $10 to $50 per month.
To help decide which of these gifts to buy, bring the topic up in conversation. An artist used to Illustrator might not be comfortable switching to Corel Painter, for instance, so make your choice wisely. (If they’re switching in the other direction, our guide to getting started with Adobe Illustrator may prove useful.)
These apps are all expensive, so the subscription options are a good way to go if you’re constrained by a low budget, as are some of the free paint package alternatives that are available.
Hardware Your Digital Artist Really Wants
How does your digital artist really want to express themselves? Do they first draw on paper, scan, and import into their favorite package? Or do they want to be able to draw directly into the software?
For digital artists who always want to produce a pencil draft first, a good quality scanner is vital. While scanners are almost always built into printers these days, a standard printer isn’t really going to do the work justice, so unless they also have need for a lot of document printing, avoid this.
For top quality scanning, look for a device that will scan at a high resolution, such as the Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner ($80 on Amazon). Or if you have a much bigger budget, the Epson E11000XL-GA Expression Graphic Arts Photo Scanner ($2,100 on Amazon), though this one may be overkill if the recipient isn’t a full-fledged professional.
Scanning in a pinch? Just use your smartphone camera, and if support is needed, build a scanning table from card.
Graphics tablets come in all shapes and sizes, from the good quality but low budget Huion H610PRO (the standard stylus-on-slate type of tablet, $80 on Amazon) to the interactive displays of the high-end tools, such as the Wacom Cintiq 13HD Interactive Pen Display ($800 on Amazon), which, like a standard tablet, plugs into your computer as a stylus-sensitive touch display.
It doesn’t end there, however.
The iPad Air 2 ($460 on Amazon) makes a great little graphics tablet, and when coupled with an app like Astropad ($25 in the App Store, for iPad and Mac OS X only), it can turn Apple’s tablet computer into a tablet fit for any skilled digital artist. But if the subject of your gifting uses an Android tablet instead and their device supports stylus pen input — such as the Samsung Galaxy Note ($475 on Amazon) — then the VirtualTablet (S-Pen) app is worth looking at for $2.
Consider, too, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet ($900 for an Intel Core i5 version) which ships with a good quality stylus. Since this is a Windows computer, it will run all of the graphics software discussed above. However, stylus input for this device has its flaws for artists who have a slower hand, so it’s really only a good option for someone who needs to draw and email and travel light.
Most tablets come with styluses included, but if your digital artist needs a new one, the Wacom Intuos for iPad ($30 on Amazon, for iPad 3 and later) is a good choice. The Musemee Notier V2 Precision Stylus ($14 on Amazon) is another popular stylus, designed for precision art.
We’re big fans of DIY here at MakeUseOf, but we don’t recommend that you offer your digital artist friend or relative a self-built stylus as these typically don’t have the necessary sensitivity for serious activity. However, if you want to give it a shot, check out our guide to building your own tablet stylus.
Printers for Digital Artists
Printing can be expensive, especially if you have to pay for it on a per-print basis. That’s why some artists like to have the ability to print their own work rather than relying on third party services. As such, a personal printer can prove especially useful.
For smaller prints, a standard photo printer like the Canon Pixma Pro-100 ($300 on Amazon) should suffice, but for larger prints, look at something like the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Color Inkjet Printer ($1,500 on Amazon). Again, unless the recipient is a full-fledged professional, this may be stepping into overkill territory.
Publications & Courses
Online courses and digital publications can be of considerable use to a digital artist. You might want to introduce your friend or relative to Lynda.com, an online course site where membership grants access to thousands of courses across dozens of topics, including digital art.
In fact, we’ve already curated a list of some of the best Lynda courses for digital art. Whether the recipient is a newbie or a veteran, these courses will offer something to learn. Lynda subscriptions start as low as $20 per month.
Popular newsstand publications for digital artists are also available to be read on desktop computer, smartphones, and tablet computers. Services such as MyFavouriteMagazines will give access to Future Publishing’s library of monthly magazines, which includes titles such as Computer Arts, Imagine FX, Fantasy Art, and many others.
And of course, if the gift recipient enjoys a bit of non-digital art as well, check our collection of gifts for artists.
Now you have no excuse to be lacking in gift ideas for the digital artist(s) in your life. You might have found something in the list above, or maybe it sparked another idea completely. Either way, hit the comments below and tell us what you’re going to buy.
Image Credits: Gift Box via Shutterstock