What to Give a Struggling Digital Artist for Christmas?
Gifts for Digital Artists
Everybody can create and manipulate images on their computer, and the number of new digital artists has rapidly expanded. Some are just passionate hobbyists, others try to make a living by selling their designs. Of course the line between amateur and professional is very vague.
If you know a digital artist, you are probably now considering what gifts they would appreciate in the coming holiday season. Below is a selection of gifts your friend should appreciate, assuming they don't have them already.
Give them their Own Art
Does your friend try to sell their designs on print-on-demand sites like Zazzle, CafePress, RedBubble, or Society6? Most struggling digital artists do. You could definitely consider giving them a phone case, tablet case, print, or one of the many other items with their own art.
It might sound weird, to buy somebody's art for them. But selling artwork on these sites is very tough, the competition is insane. When somebody buys a design, it climbs up the search results for a relevant tag, often ending up on the first page. With a bit of luck, one sale can lead to many other sales. Hence you will not only be buying them a pretty iPhone case, and generating revenue for them, but might also be helping them make more sales in the future.
Nothing would give me more pleasure, than my friends buying their gifts, for other people, not just me, in my Zazzle store.
Graphics Tablet Gifts
Most digital artists will quickly grow tired with the lack of finer control when using a mouse, and will decide they really need a graphics tablet. These come in a bewildering variety of sizes and specifications.
Larger tablets tend to be more expensive, but they are not necessarily worse. If somebody's art was always created digitally, they will not be used to using large sweeping motions, and will use a small tablet quite naturally.
On the other hand, a wide range of pressure sensitivity is very useful, since it gives more control over line width etc.
I am very happy with my small Intuos Wacom tablet. The pen is very comfortable to use, it doesn't have batteries, so is light, and the eraser at the other end is a very nice touch. Buying the tablet gives you access to a lot of useful software, including Photoshop Elements and Art Rage Studio 3.
Does Your Digital Artist Friend Have All the Software they Need?
Most digital artists will have either Photoshop or Gimp, the free ware version, it really goes with the territory. However, if they don't have access to a heavy weight image manipulation software package, and they would rather use Photoshop than Gimp, then they will definitely appreciate it as a gift.
If they deal mostly with photographs, they will probably be very pleased with Photoshop Lightroom. Although it doesn't give you the same image manipulation options as PS, it is absolutely great at dealing with thousands of image files, taking out the lengthy, frustrating searches for a particular photograph in folders filled with images.
If they are more interested in digital painting, rather than image manipulation, then ArtRage Studio is an absolute must. This is a fantastically powerful software that allows painting in different media such as oil paints, pencil sketches and whatever media the artist might want to emulate. Works really well with a graphics tablet.
You can buy it from the ArtRage site.
If your friend already has photoshop, they might really enjoy some of the fantastic plugins that greatly expand the possibilities of using it to create digital art.
Admittedly it might be a little bit awkward to hand them the licence code for downloadable software, especially if you go for a big Christmas tree with beautifully wrapped gift boxes. On the other hand, it is a great gift to give to people who live away, and whom you will not see on Christmas. Much nicer than an Amazon electronic gift card.
For people who are really into surreal photo manipulation, Redfield makes addons that introduce amazing special effects to photos. I've bought their Fractalius plugin early this year, and I've had huge fun using it since.
Entry Level DSLR Camera to Take HDR Photographs.
Is your friend interested in photography, but restricted in what they can do by the lack of expensive equipment? There is only this much that you can do with a point and shoot camera.
If you were planning to spend a significant amount of money on the gift, perhaps you could expand their possibilities by giving them an entry level DSLR camera, if they don't already have one?
One style of photography that might particularly appeal to a digital artist is HDR. High Dynamic Range images have a lot more detail than usual, giving them a surreal, graphical quality. The main job of creating these photographs is actually done on a computer using dedicated software, however, you need to start with at least 3 images of exactly the same scene, but with different exposures.
The software combines the underexposed, normal and overexposed pictures to produce an image which has much more detail than just one photo.
To take three photographs that are identical except for exposure, you really need a camera capable of automatic exposure bracketing, and a tripod. Many, although not all, the Nikon D3100 or D3200 are notable exceptions, of entry level DSLR cameras have this function.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i is one of the highest rated cameras, with 18 MP sensor, multi-point auto focusing and is a great introduction to DSLR.
Of course even entry level DSLRs are expensive. However, more sophisticated HDR equipment can cost thousands of dollars.
If you were looking for a cheap gift, you could always just buy a tripod, and remote shutter control. Although far from ideal, it is possible to manually set up a camera to take the images for HDR, it must be kept completely still while changing the exposure setting, which makes a tripod essential.