Tag: Tools

10 top new tools for traditional artists this May

This month's roundup is a mixed bag of new books, news skills, and new tools. One of the best titles out this May takes a modern, engaging approach to mastering to art of how to draw people – plus we look at the best pencils and papers to go with it. Another new book aims to demystify art, by explaining in simple language exactly what 300 iconic texts really 'mean'. Elsewhere, we look at a guide on how to give your landscapes new depth using mixed-media techniques – including found objects.

Struggling with artists' block? We've got something for that – a book that explains what creativity is and how to unlock yours. And if that doesn't work there's a tried-and-tested resource from which everyone from Botticelli to Damien Hirst has found inspiration. Ever heard of 'snitte'? We sharpen our knife and take a look at the craft that is described as "a rite of passage for most Scandinavians".

01. Danish whittling

Create everything from toys to butter knives from wood

In The Danish Art of Whittling, Frank Egholm teaches you the ancient Danish craft of 'snitte'. This new book gives you a visual, step-by-step guide to a range of simple whittling projects for the home – wooden toys for children, a necklace, butter knives, and pretty much everything in between. It's a relatively cheap craft, since you don't need many tools to get started. And it's a relaxing, satisfying, and productive way to get away from the computer. Could it be your new favourite creative hobby? 

02. Whittling knife

Over time, the birchwood handle will mould to the user’s grip

This whittling knife is specially designed for woodcarving. It has a thin, tapered edge of laminated steel, which is tough, so it'll withstand lots of snitte before it's needs regrinding. And it also comes with a storage case, to keep it in good shape. Best of all, as you use it, over time the oiled birchwood handle will slowly change shape until it perfectly fits to your hand – which is when you'll know you're a true master of snitte. 

03. Good wood

Basswood is ideal for whittling

People have been using basswood for woodcarving for thousand of years. It makes for a particularly good material for whittling because it doesn’t have much of a grain and it's soft and therefore easier to work with. This 10-piece pack is free of acid and lignin, plus each block is quite small, making it ideal for the beginner whittler, and for practising detail and finesse work. It's good snitte. 

04. Art made easy

The meaning behind over 300 famous artworks

Patrick De Rynck and Jon Thompson hit the nail on the head in their new book, Understanding Painting: with all its talk of  themes and symbols, art can be intimidating. Here they look at over 300 famous pieces – from the middle ages to the 20th century – and explain clearly and concisely what they 'mean'. Vermeer, Picasso, Hopper and more feature here. The language is simple and engaging, and it looks smart too. 

05. Creativity unblocked

Tips for unlocking your creativity

In Being Creative: Be Inspired, Unlock your Originality, artist Michael Atavar talks about creativity and how to find yours, how to develop ideas, and how to bridge the big gap between the development stage and completing a projects – something even the most experienced creative can struggle with. With this book, Atavar aims to prove that creativity isn't some magical, possibly mythical thing floating about in the ether, but something real, inside everyone, waiting to get out. A good read for creatives in any field.

06. If all else fails …

Artists throughout history have stolen ideas from mythology

You've heard how talent borrows but genius steals? Well, the best of the best regularly steal ideas from classical Greek and Roman myths. In Flying Too Close to the Sun, James Cahill looks at how mythology has inspired the work of Botticelli, Caravaggio, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst – plus the Coen Brothers, Margaret Atwood, and Arcade Fire – and how they've taken these ancients stories and weaved them into their own work. It tackles big themes like fate, jealously, and redemption, and is full of ideas on how you can use them in your work. 

07. Mastering portrait technique

A modern take on an age-old skill

This Pocket Art guide to portrait drawing offers a lively, modern approach to this fundamental skill. London artist Miss Led is your teacher. She tells you what tools you need, how to understand the face, its features and expressions, and how to master the tricker stuff, like hair and skin. Best of all, she does it in just 112 pages. This is another title that is helping to bring art theory into the 21st century. 

08. Portrait pencils

These shades are perfect for portraiture

This 24-piece set of pencils is perfect for portraiture, particularly certain skin and hair tones. It gives rich, creamy, vibrant colours, which are easy to blend, and look smooth on the page. They give a much more professional finish than your average coloured pencil. Not the cheapest, but excellent quality as always from the ever-reliable Prismacolor brand. They don't break easily. And come in a proper tin for safe storage.

09. Toned paper

Toned paper is great for practising light and shadow

Strathmore is one of the leading brands in art supplies – trusted by students, hobbyists, and professionals alike. This toned paper is an immediate way to refresh your portrait work. On white paper, you tone down. With this range of toned paper, you have to shade both down and up, which is great for practising light and shadow. Plus, non-white paper helps with eyestrain.

10. Textile painting

Learn how to create impressive mixed-media landscapes

Textile Landscape Painting encourage you to use paper and paint, fabric and thread, and found objects to create stunning landscapes with added depth. Author Cas Holmes guides you through it step by step – from coming up with ideas in your sketchbook, to stitching and painting them on cloth, and even completing these projects digitally. The book doesn't just focus on pastoral scenes either. It also looks at urban environments.

Read more:

  • Create a self-portrait with just 4 colours
  • 10 tips for sketching moving subjects
  • 20 phenomenally realistic pencil drawings


Make the most of Adobe's powerful tools

Creatives of any kind need to know how to use the apps in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. These powerful tools are used by amateur and professional creators alike to make their work shine.  You can learn your way around these awesome apps with the Adobe CC Lifetime Mastery Bundle, and you can pay what you want for it!

Aspiring creators will definitely want to know learn how to use the Adobe Creative Cloud. It's the most powerful set of design tools around and the Adobe CC Lifetime Mastery Bundle will help you master these tools. You'll find more than 40 hours of actionable courses in this bundle that will make you an expert with all of Adobe's powerful artistic tools, from Photoshop and Illustrator to Dreamweaver and InDesign. Plus you'll learn how to make use of motion graphics in After Effects and more.

The Adobe CC Lifetime Mastery Bundle is valued at over $384, but you can get it now for a price that you pick! Beat the average to unlock it all, get on the leaderboard, or just pay what you want. You can't go wrong, so grab this bundle today!

Related articles:

  • 5 best laptops for Photoshop
  • The 40 best Photoshop plugins
  • Master the Mixer brush in Photoshop


Happy Small Business Week: 5 Local Search Tools to Help Your Growth


If you’re like most small businesses, you rely on your community and local visitors to keep your business going. For you it’s important to stay relevant in your community, with your customers, and especially with local searchers. To do so you might find the amount of things you have to do to be a little bit daunting.

The truth is, that there are a number of great tools at your disposal, many of which are free. These tools can help you with map search, local search, and social media. Combined they can help your small business stay relevant and be in better shape for Small Business Week next year.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a great tool for small businesses that are just getting started in putting down their digital footprint. GMB gets you listed in maps, which allow for reviews and images to be posted to your listing.

As you grow you’ll want to encourage your customers to rate you on Google. This will not only look great for your online reputation, it has impacts on search rankings for your business.


If your small business is planning on using multiple social media accounts, HootSuite can help you streamline that process. It can also be used as a great social reputation manager. Being able to respond quickly to customer reviews, messages, complaints, or praise will help you keep folks happy.

HootSuite has several paid plans for larger businesses, but for small businesses who will only have one user – you can use the service for free. As you add more employees that might be managing social media, you can always move up.


Yext’s goal is to ensure your business is accurately listed in as many popular directories as possible. This is especially needed when if you move your business or haven’t been around a long time in order to get your listings populated organically.

While the service does have a cost, the benefit of having accurate listings, both for the user and the search engines far outweigh that. It may be hard to believe that not everyone uses Google for everything, but sadly, that’s the case. So if you need to make sure your listing house is in order, spend a few minutes and some money to make sure that it is.

Google AdWords (Keyword Planner)

When you first launch a website, getting traction can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if you’re in a competitive space, such as restaurants, so what’s a small business to do? One way to drive new traffic is through purchasing the keywords that are important to your business. Adwords helps you quickly get traffic to your website to help you get new leads while  you grow your organic traffic.

The other thing that it helps you do (and this doesn’t cost you money) is help you determine the value of your keywords. If you’re looking to rank for a specific thing, you can see the traffic in your local area by using Google’s Keyword Planner. This will help you determine if targeting these keywords on the page is worth it.


Whitespark works in a similar fashion to Google’s keyword planner, but it also gives you some insights into what your competitors are doing online. It also will help you get information on what things your website should be doing to help you boost your ranking signals.

For small business owners they do offer a free plan. This will give you a few searches a day to test your pages or your content and help you make changes. 3 searches may not seem like much, but when you’re also trying to run a full time business, it will probably be plenty.


With all the things that go into running a small business, marketing can sometimes take a back seat. If you’re solopreneur, it can almost seem like it’s impossible to market your business in such a competitive place. The truth is, that if you’re thinking of that, than probably most of your competition is too. So the fact that you’re looking for ways to beat them gives you an advantage already.

No, you can certainly make headway online, and with these tools it’s easier than you think.

The post Happy Small Business Week: 5 Local Search Tools to Help Your Growth appeared first on build/create studios.