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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.

Or socks.

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.

Alternatives to the Adobe suite include Autodesk Sketchbook (subscription and standalone options are available) and Corel Painter.

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 The Beginner's Guide To Adobe Illustrator The Beginner's Guide To Adobe Illustrator Want to get started learning Adobe Illustrator, but feel overwhelmed? With easy-to-follow instructions and plenty of annotated screenshots, this manual makes learning Illustrator simple. Read More 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 Unleash Your Inner Artist with Three Free Digital Painting Programs for Windows Unleash Your Inner Artist with Three Free Digital Painting Programs for Windows Painting is fun, but it's also messy, expensive, and alarmingly analog. Digital art offers a solution and we found you great free apps for your artistic needs! Read More 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 How To Build Your Own Smartphone Document Scanner How To Build Your Own Smartphone Document Scanner Have you ever tried to take a photo of a document with your smartphone camera, hoping to convert it using OCR software into a PDF or Word document later on? Perhaps you’ve attempted to take... Read More .



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 How To Build Your Own Tablet Stylus How To Build Your Own Tablet Stylus Steve Jobs was quite right when he said "If you see a stylus, they blew it." While a good touchscreen should never require you to use a stylus for standard operations, there are tasks when... Read More .

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, 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 Learn Digital Art from Scratch With These 22 Lynda Courses Learn Digital Art from Scratch With These 22 Lynda Courses With hundreds of online courses to choose from, is the fastest way to mastery of digital art. Here are a few courses to get you started. Read More . 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.

These titles can be found on iTunes and Google Play, too, where you’ll also find similar magazines and bookazines from other publishers around the world.

And of course, if the gift recipient enjoys a bit of non-digital art as well, check our collection of gifts for artists 12 Gifts To Empower The Artist In Your Life 12 Gifts To Empower The Artist In Your Life If the person you're seeking a gift for is of the artistic variety, they'll appreciate something that shows you understand how important their art is to them. Read More .

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

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