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Technology Gifts for an Equally Innovative Artist

by Ann Zhang

Right, so it’s about that time of year where the Christmas lights are up, the carol music starts drifting from every street and corner, and you start getting headaches over what presents to buy for all your friends. Sure you could get a gift card, a handwritten note, and call it a day. But, you could also buy something that could perhaps be a bit more intriguing and unique. STEM presents are not only engaging, but the process of using them becomes education itself- essentially enjoyable learning. And that lucky recipient will thank you. What’s not to like? Whether it’s a science experiment of come cool technology, it’ll be sure to entertain, not to mention the versatility of each that opens a world of new creativity. There is a lot of items that could fall in the broad umbrella of STEM so in this articles, lets focus on those in the technology sector for artists with a focus on not becoming broke.

For the Artists

Yes, I know. When you think of art, it’s not really a science, technology, engineering, or even math thing, unless you count the shapes you draw in geometry as a form of expressive art. But digital art, now that’s pretty high tech. A great choice of a thoughtful gift for a friend who loves to draw and maybe has never gotten into digital art yet. Or perhaps for a friend who is still at the doodle stages of art mastery but wants to improve. The great thing about this is that you can buy great quality applications for digital drawings that are not necessarily too expensive.

Clip Studio Paint

Many people probably have not heard of this software before. However, it offers so much variety in it’s application. Its functions are similar to that of adobe illustrator. You can draw with an a wide variety of colors, brushes, use layers, and much more. What’s even better is that it’s a one time purchase unlike the new illustrator (which is basically a subscription service that charges monthly).

Clip studios offers two different versions of the software:

  • Clip Studio Paint Pro – $49.99
  • Clip Studio Paint Ex – $219.99

I would say Clip Studio Paint Pro is a great place to start without breaking the bank at a price of $50. What’s great is that there is an amazing online community of users that often offer great tutorials and instructions on how to get started or even specific drawings. Compared to Clip Studio Paint Pro, Clip Studio Paint Ex offers more options in creating multiple pages of art (like for a comic) and also allows for better animation both in 2D and 3D. This is the version that I have purchase as a gift for my sister. It was many washed dishes later that I was able to afford it, but I’m am glad I did. Throughout the years, as her skills improved, so did her use of the program. Most recently she completed the 20K views animation for mYebeat.com.

Of course, if you think this would be a great present to yourself say from a parent, here’s a potential pitch for you:

It’s online art, so you can draw on pixel grid with coordinates. So it’s like a graph in math class with x and y coordinates. Math eh? So educational in that sense I guess.

You can buy it on there website linked here.

Procreate (the version for iphones and ipads)

Love my procreate. It’s great for mobility as you can get it on the Ipad and or Iphone for a mere $9.99 and $4.99 respectively. You can take them anywhere and draw as you wish, using up your spare time like on a road trip or a commute to the grocery store with masks on of course. What’s even better is since it is all on touch screen devices. you don’t even need a drawing tablet for ease of control and precision in drawing (albeit on computer software you can draw with a mouse too). It’s also great to turn the world around you into pictures as you can simply snap a picture and insert that picture as the base for your next project. Currently, procreate is now also available on androids. However, unlike the ios versions, I have not personally tried this out. Unfortunately, the reviews for the Procreate on the android has not been too positive, so I would suggest that it would be better to hold off on purchasing it on a non apple device until the software has been updated, bugs get fixed, and reviews improve.

Unreal Engine and Blender

Okay, so this next one is not necessarily art in the traditional sense of drawing. But, since these softwares are just so cool and completely free (in alignment to the unintentional trend of decreasing prices presented of this list), I just had to add it. Personally, I’ve always thought myself as a creative, completely drawn to stories, enticed by games that expanded on them. Unreal Engine and Blender allows users to make 3D environments and animate them for purposes such as a game. You can sculpt mystical worlds or realistic ones if you should choose and blend them into an epic game. It is a perfect blend of technical skills and imagination.

A couple years back, I had first started learning how to code. Unfortunately, the beginning is not as thrilling as I thought it would be. Especially, when lacking the technical expertise, it wasn’t always easy to see how the skill I was learning would eventually form the basis of wonders in our world such as electronics and websites. Unreal Engine and Blender both connect the dots in terms of using programming to actually to start projects that are engaging, relevant, and useful.

For Unreal Engine, you do not even have to know programming as you can finish an entire game using blueprint scripting. Of course, if you want to flex that coding muscle the option is open and you can finish your game in C++.

Blender will allow you the option of coding in three different programming languages: C, C++, Python. If you are interested in learning Python, the Michigan Youth Empowerment Foundation a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization offers great classes on it for kids who are complete beginners to more experienced.

In terms of other differences between these two programs, Blender seems to have a more user friendly interface so it is usually suggested as a great option for beginners. Additionally, Blender is more focused on 3D modeling with some animation components which can also be used to make games while Unreal Engine is a game engine seen as a suite of tools for developing games. Also, because of the functions of these two softwares, be sure to check the hardware requirements for them before downloading as they are both quite demanding in this aspect.

Either way, regardless of what you choose, you will probably need to know the basics of 3D modeling. There is a wide variety of free resources and tutorials that are fairly easy to follow along with online for both applications. It could potentially be the opportunity to take explore another medium in which someone could apply their artistic skills.

Although it’s free, I firmly believe that this could be considered an awesome gift for a friend as a lot of times, the most valuable things are not necessarily the expensive and tangible, but the ones that wider our world views and perspectives, just like friendship.

If you liked this article or have any other ideas concerning the perfect Christmas gift, feel free to comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts! mYe BEAT tries to get articles out every week. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on what’s new.

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