Nov 242017

There are loads of amazing Black Friday deals to be had today, but with payday just around the corner you might not have the cash available to nab yourself a sweet bargain.

There's no need to miss out, though; while we're relentless in our mission to point you in the right direction for epic savings on high-end tech, we're also keeping an eye out for those of you with a little less cash to flash.

That's why we've been on the lookout for a budget selection of Black Friday deals that'll delight even the most impecunious designer. Everything here is yours to grab for under /£50£50; get a move on so you don't miss out!

US Black Friday deals under $50

UK Black Friday deals under £50

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Nov 242017

If you've always wanted to get your hands on one of Microsoft's popular Surface Book, then now's the time. In an incredible Black Friday deal, the powerful laptop is currently on sale with a whopping 47% discount, meaning you can get your hands on one for less than $800!

The reason we're seeing these incredible Black Friday prices on this amazing machine is, of course, because Microsoft recently replaced its first-ever 2-in-1 laptop with the Surface Book 2. Retailers like Amazon are using Black Friday to get rid of the remainder of their older stock – and once it's gone, it's gone.



Nov 242017

There have been lots of impressive deals for designers and creatives this Black Friday, but one of the most impressive we've seen is this iPhone X Black Friday deal from In fact it's so impressive there's really no competition. If you're after a saving on an iPhone X, look no further.

You can now get the iPhone X with 32GB of data for £47 a month with a £190 upfront spend on Vodafone. When you break down the numbers, that comes to a cost of £1,318 over the course of the two year contract. Or to put it another way, you'll save £70 compared to the next cheapest tariff and with 27GB more data!

Our friends at TechRadar say that this iPhone X offer won't be beaten.

The iPhone X raised eyebrows when it was launched thanks to its staggering price tag, so this offer will come as a welcome relief to designers hoping to pick up the device for a slightly more reasonable sum. Don't let it pass you by though, this iPhone X deal will expire at the end of Cyber Monday.

The best iPhone X deal for Black Friday 2017

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Nov 242017

It's Black Friday today, and as well as the hundreds of incredible deals we've found for designers and artists, we have something else for you, too...

Behind the scenes of your favourite app or website, there is a developer keeping everything running smoothly. If you want join the ranks of developers and create and maintain services people love, grab the Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle. It's on sale now for just $39 (approx. £30)—plus save an additional 75% off when you use the coupon code BFRIDAY75 at checkout!!

The Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle is the perfect starting place for an aspiring web developer of any skill level. This collection of eight expert-taught courses can help even a total beginner learn how to code with the most important languages in web development, from JavaScript to HTML5 and CSS3. As you work your way through this great collection of courses, you'll start to bring your dream designs to life as you work through 48 hours of actionable lessons.

You can get the Ultimate Front End Developer Bundle on sale for just $39 (approx. £30), 96% off the retail price! That’s a massive savings on a bundle that could help you launch a new career—and you can save even more when you use the coupon code BFRIDAY75 at checkout to save an additional 75% off!

Creative Bloq deals

This great deal comes courtesy of the Creative Bloq Deals store – a creative marketplace that's dedicated to ensuring you save money on the items that improve your design life.

We all like a special offer or two, particularly with creative tools and design assets often being eye-wateringly expensive. That's why the Creative Bloq Deals store is committed to bringing you useful deals, freebies and giveaways on design assets (logos, templates, icons, fonts, vectors and more), tutorials, e-learning, inspirational items, hardware and more.

Every day of the working week we feature a new offer, freebie or contest – if you miss one, you can easily find past deals posts on the Deals Staff author page or Offer tag page. Plus, you can get in touch with any feedback at:

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Nov 242017

There are plenty of Black Friday deals jostling for your attention today, so to make shopping a little easier, here's our round-up of the very best MacBook Black Friday deals for 2017 – which we'll be adding to around the clock. 

The good news is, there are some incredible bargains to be had. So to help you navigate, we've split the deals here into UK and US sections, so you can find what you're after, faster. 

A good laptop makes the world of difference for a designer. With a MacBook you know that you're getting a high quality device. And it doesn't matter if you go for a refurbished model – which some of the laptops on this list are – because they still deliver the same standard of performance.

So without further ado, start scrolling through this list of the best MacBook Black Friday deals out there.

The best MacBook Black Friday 2017 deals UK

The best MacBook Black Friday 2017 deals US

Nov 232017

Black Friday 2017 has officially started. We're working around the clock to bring you the best Black Friday deals for designers, illustrators and artists, right here, as the world's biggest retailers unleash their campaigns. 

A huge torrent of Black Friday deals have been sparked, most of which will expire or sell out before the end of the day – so if you see a product you want, at a price you like, grab it.

There are a number of ways to browse the best Black Friday deals on this page. You can either scroll through the bargains using the UK and US links below:

Or, you can browse specific hardware, software or design resource deals using the quick links above. 

Alternatively, if you prefer to scroll through the major retailers' Black Friday sales directly, you'll find links to the biggest UK and US outfits below. 

Black Friday 2017: retailer links

Black Friday UK: Amazon Black Friday | John Lewis Black Friday | GAME Black Friday | Currys Black Friday | Argos Black Friday | Tesco Direct Black Friday | eBay Black Friday

Black Friday US: Amazon Black Friday | Walmart Black Friday | Target Black Friday | BestBuy deals | Costco deals | Kohl’s Black Friday | eBay Black Friday | Toys R Us Black Friday

The best UK Black Friday deals of 2017

And we're live! Whether you’re a freelancer, in-house designer, studio owner or student, here are the very best Black Friday deals for designers, illustrators and artists in the UK... (If you're looking for US deals, head here.)

01. Mobile phone Black Friday deals in the UK

All the best prices on the best phones go live today, on Black Friday itself. Today is also a great day to pick up SIM only deals. Keep your eyes on, Mobile Phones Direct and Carphone Warehouse. Here are the best options...

02. Desktop, tablet, laptop Black Friday deals UK

If you're looking for Black Friday deal on tablets, laptops, a 2-in-1 tablet PC or a desktop, here's where you'll find the best ones.

03. Wacom Black Friday deals in the UK

We'll bring you all the best Black Friday deals on Wacom tablets and accessories as soon as they appear, right here.

04. Camera Black Friday deals in the UK

05. TV and monitor deals in the UK

06. Studio / smart home Black Friday deals UK

The best US Black Friday deals of 2017

Based in the US? Great! We have all the best Black Friday deals for designers, illustrators and artists in the States right here. 

Whether you're looking for hardware, software or other creative resources, we've got you covered – from laptops and tablets to cameras, Adobe deals, Apple bargains and a lot more. 

We've even got mobile phone, TV, monitor and smart home Black Friday bargains, too. You can scroll through the deals – or use the quick links on the right. Happy searching…

01. Mobile phone Black Friday deals in the US

02. Desktop, tablet, laptop Black Friday deals US

03. Wacom Black Friday deals in the US

04. Camera Black Friday deals in the US

05. TV and monitor deals in the US

06. Studio / smart home Black Friday deals US

Creative software Black Friday deals

Design resource Black Friday deals

Black Friday deal tracker

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Nov 232017

Wacom has announced huge Black Friday savings in the UK and Europe on a number of its industry-leading graphics tablets. We’ve already seen big cuts on Wacom tablets in the run-up to Black Friday, but this is the first time we’ve seen a flagship model reduced. So what’s up for grabs? 

£150 off the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13-inch

Save £13 on Wacom Intuos Draw (small)

Save £13 on Wacom Intuos Art (small)

Save £9 on Bamboo Ink 

You'll find all the Wacom Black Friday deals here. And remember, all purchases above £50 get free shipping. Happy shopping…

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Nov 232017

Some of the world's most exciting artists have collaborated with The Art of Ping Pong on an artistic and noble use for table tennis equipment – covering ping pong bats in interesting designs and illustrations and auctioning them for charity.

Back for a fifth year, The Art of Ping Pong brings creatives together to raise money for charity, and this year it's helping the young adult cancer support group Trekstock. Since 2013 its charity auctions have raised over £15k.

27 talented artists have got involved with The Art of Ping Pong 2017

For 2017, The Art of Ping Pong has roped in help from more artists, illustrators and designers than ever before, with 27 creatives signing up to raise money for Trekstock. Artists include established greats such as George Hardie, who created the artwork for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, and newcomers such as Mr Doodle.

The online auction started on 26 October, but you have until 30 November to pick up specially made artwork and raise money for a worthy cause. 

Algy Batten produced and created the event, and this year he's kept things fresh by adding two mini ping pong tables painted by Charlie Oscar Patterson and Mr Doodle to the online charity auction.

On top of ping pong tables, you can also get your hands on eight specially made T-shirts, thanks to a partnership with Everpress. Artists have also created bespoke ping pong paddles for the auction, which you can explore by clicking left to right in the gallery below.

The full list of contributors also includes: Yoni Alter, Mr Bingo, John Booth, Emma Brewin, Fred Butler, Alison Carmichael, Sebastian Cox, Marina Esmeraldo, Emily Forgot, Kev Munday, Neasden Control Centre, Nous Vous, Zuza Mengham, Stina Persson, Saskia Pomeroy, Pref, Benedict Radcliffe, Gemma Shiel, Adam Simpson, Sam Taylor, Louis Trew and Celia Washington.

If you're in the area, there will be a closing party for The Art of Ping Pong on 29 November at Below One Fifteen, 115 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London.

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Nov 232017

Creating illustrations for an event is a fantastic creative challenge that involves telling stories with your drawings that feed into the event's narrative, adapting your illustration style and working closely with the client to set the tone of the event with your artwork. I'll share my experience of illustrating for the Green Man festival, as well as my tips for illustrating for events.

While exhibiting at the Pick Me Up graphic arts festival in London last year, I was spotted and chosen as a candidate to create illustrations for Green Man's promo materials in 2017. I had known about the festival for quite some time and was jealous of the people who had illustrated it in the past. So I was really stoked when I got the email. It's a dream project, and a lovely portfolio piece.

Aart-Jan Venema's initial sketch for the Babbling Tongues area of Green Man

The overarching theme in the brief was 'discovery'. The client wanted the illustrations to reflect the spirit of the festival and the inquisitive nature of its attendees. The brief also called for the illustrations to explore the unique, weird and wonderful things the festival has to offer. 

The imagery could have a historical reference or be more abstract. It could show an imagined world, or artefacts that lie beneath the Black Mountains of Wales, where the festival is. Other possibilities included a fictional parallel universe. The client also wanted a little humour and some dark undertones added to the mix.

01. Know when to change your idea

The final image

My clients had liked the hand-painted pieces I exhibited at Pick Me Up, and we considered that choice of media. However, in the end it just wouldn't have been practical for a huge project like this. I thought up plenty of characters, doing lots of crazy things, but one of the guidelines was that I should focus on the environment and strange objects rather than characters. The client didn't want the images to look too 'childish', or too 'human'.

Consequently, one of the key challenges was to change my mindset and use objects and plants to deliver the narrative, looking for ways to give them character. I came up with lots of masks and helmets to add visual appeal. A real lifesaver was the book Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel, and from it, I discovered new ways to draw scenery. I also received a huge 'inspiration' folder from Green Man.

02. Define the style early on

This mad scientist illo is for Einstein's Garden, the stage with everything from comedy and music to theatre and science

The advice I'd give others trying to tackle artwork for a major event is to create a test piece, show it to people and find out where you can go from there. Make lots of changes until everyone is completely happy. With a solid framework, it's much easier to work quickly. If the style is established early on, you don't have to revisit the question with each piece.

03. Adapt your idea for different uses

Venema enjoyed creating fantasy cars for his characters to arrive in for the car park illustrations

For the website I had to do the area illustrations. For this I had to make up a whole world, which we could use as a basis for all the other outings as well. 

The tickets were a different thing. Because there's so much info and text that needs to be readable, I had very limited space to really draw something. 

The wrist bands were woven in about eight colours, and Green Man was really keen on lots of details, so it was a challenge to get as much information as possible on a really small surface too. For the parking permits, I had to get cars in the mix. It was fun to see in what kind of cars my characters would attend the festival.

04. Experiment with tools and colour

The poster representing the Mountain's Foot area – the main stage at the foot of the Black Mountains

Each image began with sketching in pencil. I drew lots of versions until everything felt right so I didn't have to worry about composition when painting the illustration. 

Usually I work in Procreate on an iPad Pro, but for this job I switched to a Wacom Cintiq and Photoshop. My first versions were really textured to resemble my painted work, but in the end we went for a fairly simple version with only one texture. The colours were set by Bread Collective and Green Man, and I added the blue. Usually I wouldn't use a palette like this, but I'm pleased I was forced to and can now see myself using it again.

The main feedback I received was to go 'weirder' which turns out to be a lot harder than making things more 'normal'. It was refreshing to push myself to the limits, though.

I learned a lot doing this project. For one thing, I was able to create a really consistent series of pieces, and have my work carry the look of an entire festival. I'm very happy with it. If I had to do it again, I would make my PSD files a bit cleaner, which would have saved time when preparing them for the animator. 

This article was originally published in issue 270 of Computer Arts, the global design magazine – helping you solve daily design challenges with insights, advice and inspiration. Buy issue 270 here or subscribe to Computer Arts here.

Special Christmas offer: Save up to 49% on a subscription to Computer Arts for you or a friend for Christmas. It's a limited offer, so move quickly...

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Nov 232017

With the advent of mobile games and indie video games, there's been a big influx of illustrators and animators getting into 3D art. This has created a trend of cel shaded objects in 3D space, bringing a whole new aesthetic, depth and dimension to 2D-style art. Thanks to this trend, a feature in Cinema 4D that has existed for years is now seeing a resurgence.

Using Cinema 4D's powerful Sketch and Toon module, you can transform your 3D artwork into a cartoon-like illustration with just a few clicks of a button. The flexibility of the Sketch and Toon module lets you experiment with different 2D cel shading styles and have it react to lights in your scene.

Building designs or characters in 3D gives you greater flexibility, as you can simply rotate the object in 3D to turn the face, rather than using complex rigs. Simple things like this makes Cinema 4D a powerful app not only for 3D artists, but for 2D illustrators and animators as well.

Download the files for this tutorial, and follow these steps to create an illustrative 2D-style cartoon character in Cinema 4D.

01. Add cel shader

Just use the Luminance channel to avoid diffuse shading (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

Begin by creating a new material to create the cartoon texture. Turn off both the Color and Reflectance channels. We'll be using the Luminance channel because we don't want any type of diffuse shading. We're looking for nice flat shading for our model. Navigate to loading the cel shader into the Luminance channel.

02. Choose your cel shading colours

Set up the colour gradients you'll need (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

The cel shader works by using a gradient to apply materials across the surface of your object. The more you move a colour's gradient knot to the right, the more of that colour will be represented on your model. You can add or remove colour chips to get the colour combination you like, whether tritone, duotone, or any other combination.

03. Create a light

Use Infinite Light to get the right look (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

Let's create an Infinite Light with Hard Shadows enabled for a cartoonish directional light and sharp shadows. Infinite Lights act like a massive light source, such as the sun. To change the direction that the light is being cast, all you have to do is rotate the Infinite Light.

04. Use lights to drive cel shading

Uncheck Camera to control how the light drives the cel shading (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

By default, the cel shader uses the camera or your default view as the point of the light source (Camera box checked on). To be able to use a light in your scene as the cel shader light source and to accept shadows, you just need to uncheck Camera and check on Lights as well as Shadows. Now you have total control over how the light is driving the cel shading across your object.

05. Experiment with gradient interpolation

Different types of gradient interpolation can deliver interesting results (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

By using the different types of gradient interpolation by clicking on the arrow next to Diffuse, you can adjust how each colour blends into another one, and also discover some interesting stylised diffuse shading beyond just using no smoothing between each colour. For example, try adding contrast by spacing some knots closer together than others.

06. Add stylised grain

Activate the Bump channel to further stylise your cel shading (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

You can further stylise the look of your cel shading by using the Use Bump feature to add some grain. First of all, you must activate the Bump channel and load up a noise shader. Smaller noises work best for fine grain.

07. Use Bump

Try different Bump strengths and noise types (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

For the Bump channel to act upon the cel shader, click the Use Bump checkbox. You'll see the Bump channel breaking up the cel shader and adding stylised grain to your material. Experiment with the Bump strength in the Bump channel as well as different noise types.

08. Render settings

Avoid the Gauss filter, as it'll ruin your image's sharpness (click the arrows icon to enlarge this image)

When rendering out cartoon shaded objects, it's important to maintain a sharp, vector-like quality to renders, especially if you plan to composite the image in After Effects with vector layers. Typically you would render out using the Gauss (Animation) filter because it prevents flickering for some animation, but it also blurs your image. To maintain image sharpness, choose filters such as Cubic (Still Image) or Sinc.

This article was originally published in issue 227 of 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists – packed with expert tutorials, inspiration and reviews. Buy issue 227 here or subscribe to 3D World here.

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