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36 Great Holiday Gift Ideas For The Cg Artist!

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With Christmas fast approaching we've complied a list of 36 great holiday gift ideas for the computer graphics artist in your life (let's face it, that probably means you!) Ranging from smaller inexpensive gifts, to high end graphics tablets. We've got 36 products that any CG artist would be happy to receive. So whether you're looking for a last minute gift for the holidays or simply something to spend your next paycheck on, we've got you covered!


Whether you're an inspiring artist looking for inspiration or a seasoned veteran, art books make a great gift. Below you'll find a few of the many high quality art books available from Ballistic Publishing and 3DTotal. These are a great resource to have laying around to study composition, or simply as a conversation piece.


D'artiste: Character Modeling

$75-$170 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - D'artiste: Character Modeling is a definitive 3D character tutorial book showcasing the astonishing work and technical skills of master artists Pascal Blanché, Francisco A. Cortina and Steven Stahlberg.

Each artist demonstrates their character modeling techniques through a series of tutorials taking different models from concept-to-creation over more than 80 pages of instruction.

Sections also include galleries illustrating over 90 character modeling creations from some of the most talented 3D character artists in the world. The personal insights and tips shared by these artists provide inspiration, tuition and compelling reading all in one book.


D'artiste: Character Modeling 2

$75-$170 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - D'artiste: Character Modeling 2 presents the techniques of leading character modelers Kevin Lanning, Zack Petroc, and Timur "Taron" Baysal. Each master artist showcases his approaches and techniques in modeling characters and creatures for film and game projects through expansive graphic tutorials.

Kevin Lanning of Epic Games takes you behind the scenes of creating characters for the triple-platinum Xbox 360 game 'Gears of War' with tutorials on workflows for creating high-polygon and low-polygon characters.


D'artiste: Character Modeling 3

$75-$170 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - D'artiste: Character Modeling 3 presents the techniques of leading character modelers Jan-Bart van Beek, Giovanni Nakpil, and Cesar Dacol Jr. Each master artist showcases his approaches and techniques in modeling characters and creatures for film and game projects through expansive graphic tutorials.

Jan-Bart van Beek of Guerrilla Games takes you behind the scenes of creating characters for the blockbuster PlayStation 3 game 'Killzone 2' with tutorials on workflows for creating character heads and the creation of the Helghast Sniper character class.


EXPOSÉ 9

$69-$170 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - EXPOSÉ 9 showcases the world's best digital artists at a level of quality that only Ballistic Publishing can deliver. From established artists working in games, film and publishing to undiscovered artists showing their work for the first time, EXPOSÉ 9 inspires with a record-breaking 444 pieces of original art from 327 artists in 60 countries.


The Art Of Uncharted 2

$65-$300 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - What better way is there to start the Art of the Game series than with the Game of the Year? Ballistic Publishing has partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. and Naughty Dog, Inc. to produce The Art of UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves.

The 272-page book showcases the amazing unseen art and ideas that helped make UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves one of the most universally and critically acclaimed games ever created. From concept art, to character studies, environment art, character modeling, game art, cinematics, motion-capture, animation, and effects.


The Art of God of War III

$65-$300 - BallisticPublishing.com

Quote - The Art of God of War III: An Epic Visual History The Art of the Game series continues with another gaming epic in God of War III. Ballistic Publishing has partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment America and Santa Monica Studio to produce The Art of God of War III.

The 272-page book takes you behind the scenes on a visual history tour of the revenge-epic, and for the first time shows you more than 100 pieces of art that didn't appear in the game—The Lost Art of God of War III.

From concept art, to character studies, environment art, character modeling, and production art.


Digital Art Masters: Volume 6

£32.00 - 3DTotal.com

Quote - Digital Art Masters: Volume 6 delves into the working practices of some of the world’s best digital artists to reveal the creation processes behind their breathtaking images.

Originally launched in 2005, the annual Digital Art Masters series continues to showcase the work of some of the finest 2D and 3D artists from around the world. The latest volume, Digital Art Masters: Volume 6 is our biggest book yet. It welcomes another 50 up and-coming and veteran artists, and follows the tradition of taking readers beyond the breathtaking images with detailed breakdowns of the techniques and tricks each artist employed while creating their stunning imagery. Inspirational and instructive, this is more than just a gallery or coffee table book, this is a timeless resource for any digital artist.


Cg text books offer artists the opportunity to brush up on their skills or even tackle a new subject altogether. With most following the basis of short tutorial projects that increase in complexity over the course of a book, these are a great way to learn the core fundamentals of a particular discipline. Below you'll find a collection of some old classics, as well as some of the newest titles available.


Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right, 3rd Edition

$50 - Wiley.com

Quote - If you want to do character facial modeling and animation at the high levels achieved in today’s films and games, Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right, Third Edition, is for you. While thoroughly covering the basics such as squash and stretch, lip syncs, and much more, this new edition has been thoroughly updated to capture the very newest professional design techniques, as well as changes in software, including using Python to automate tasks.

Breathe life into your creations with this important book, considered by many studio 3D artists to be the quintessential reference on facial animation.


The essential fundamentals of 3D animation for aspiring 3D artists

$40 - Wiley.com

Quote - 3D is everywhere--video games, movie and television special effects, mobile devices, etc. Many aspiring artists and animators have grown up with 3D and computers, and naturally gravitate to this field as their area of interest. Bringing a blend of studio and classroom experience to offer you thorough coverage of the 3D animation industry, this must-have book shows you what it takes to create compelling and realistic 3D imagery.

Whether you're considering a career in as a 3D artist or simply wish to expand your understanding of general CG principles, this book will give you a great overview and knowledge of core 3D Animation concepts and the industry.


How to Cheat in Maya 2012: Tools and Techniques for Character Animation

$45 - Amazon.com

Quote - The Maya guide for animators, How to Cheat in Maya 2012 presents everything you need to know about character animation in Maya. Fully updated for the latest revision of Maya, this book provides you with complete, step-by-step walkthroughs of essential animation techniques to increase your efficiency and speed. This is an animator's workflow in book form, written by professional animators-not a software book with a few animation pointers thrown in.

In addition to all the gold-mine coverage and interviews with expert animators from the previous edition, How to Cheat in Maya 2012 also features a new in-depth chapter on the principles of animation, updated information on camera settings and animation using Maya's new Camera Sequencer tool, the ins and outs of the brand new Editable Motion Trails tool, new techniques for working with characters in multi-shot animation tests and short films, a new cycles chapter covering actions like flying and walks, time-saving scripts, and advanced tricks with the new Graph Editor. The proven "How to Cheat" series gets you up to speed quickly, and in a way that's fun.


The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects, 4th Edition

$65 - Wiley.com

Quote - Here is the newest rendition of Isaac Kerlow's popular guide to the process of creating and outputting three-dimensional computer animation. Written for both students and professional designers, this Fourth Edition addresses the newest technologies and techniques, including virtual reality and VR applications, visual effects for live action, post-production and digital output specifically for Web-based delivery, and storyboarding. Among the highlights are numerous illustrations representing the latest work of Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks SKG, Fox, Disney, and many independent artists and studios.

Isaac Victor Kerlow (Los Angeles, CA and Singapore) is the former director of Digital Production and Talent at Disney. He is currently Dean of the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.


ZBrush Studio Projects: Realistic Game Characters

$50 - Wiley.com

Quote - As video games evolve, the bar moves ever higher for realism, one of the most challenging artistic frontiers is creating realistic human characters. In ZBrush Studio Projects: Realistic Game Characters, ZBrush expert Ryan Kingslien zeroes in on specific areas of concern for game creation: human body style, faces, skin texturing, clothing, shoes, weaponry, and putting your character into a game environment.

Throughout the book Ryan offers tips and insights that provide readers with the depth and breadth they need to bring reality and creativity to their game characters and art. Projects start from the beginning, just as they do in the studio, with the author to guide you step by step through attributes and tools. Projects encompass multiple disciplines to obtain finished, professional results. Although some step by step explanations are given, projects serve more as a guide for readers to complete their own version of the project. Each project comes with support files to validate results.


Introducing ZBrush 4

$50 - Wiley.com

Quote - Design remarkably realistic creatures, people, and objects using ZBrush and the new edition of this top-selling book. Professional Hollywood animator and ZBrush artist Eric Keller combines his firsthand experience with detailed, step-by-step explanations to make you feel right at home with the interface and tools. The book reinforces the core concepts of ZBrush through fun, hands-on tutorials that will help you achieve amazing results.

The book includes a DVD with example files and models to help guide you through each lesson, as well as movies to show you the sculpting techniques used to create many of the digital sculptures.


The VES Handbook of Visual Effects: Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures

$65 - FocalPress.com

Quote - Wisdom from the best and the brightest in the industry, this visual effects bible belongs on the shelf of anyone working in or aspiring to work in VFX. The book covers techniques and solutions all VFX artists, producers, and supervisors need to know, from preproduction, to digital character creation and compositing of both live-action and CG elements. In-depth lessons on stereoscopic moviemaking, color management and digital intermediates are included, as well as chapters on interactive games and full animation authored by artists from EA and Dreamworks respectively. Written by 88 top leading visual effects practitioners and covering everything about visual effects from pre-production, production, and post-production.


Like text books, training DVDs are a great way to advance your skills. The DVDs offered by Eat3D and The Gnomon Workshop are some of the best out there. If you're looking to break into video game development, Eat3d has you covered with a wide variety of training focused on game-dev pipelines and working with game engines.

The Gnomon Workshop has been around for years and is a staple of computer graphics training. Boasting an enormous catalog of DVDs authored by many leading industry professionals. Gnomon offers in-depth training on the tools and techniques you'll need to get up and running in the Film production and visual effects industries. Below we have some of the newest titles available from each.


CryENGINE 3 Discount Bundle

$115 Bundled or $55 each - Eat3D.com

Quote - In this first DVD of our series, Hélder Pinto starts by walking you through many of the common features of CryENGINE 3 SDK like Customizing the User Interface, Folder Structure, Viewports, Entities, Panels, Objects and much more. Once a firm foundation has been placed, Hélder immediately begins going through the creation of an entire level from scratch. He begins by creating a custom terrain and from there goes into creating the lush vegetation. Other topics in the creation include using brushes, basic lighting, environment tab, fog volumes and finally water volumes.

This DVD, along with the other volumes in the series, will provide you with an invaluable amount of information needed to start creating your own levels in CryENGINE 3 SDK today.


Portrait Production - Creating a Realistic Portrait in Maya

$70 - Eat3D.com

Quote - In this DVD, Instructor Tony Reynolds takes you through the process of creating and rendering out a portrait using Mental Ray in Maya 2011. Tony starts off by taking a previously sculpted head from ZBrush and shows you how to prepare and export the model for Maya. From there he goes into great detail on all the Maya setup and settings, lighting with Mental Ray, simple and advanced skin shader setup, skin textures, rendering eyes, rendering teeth, rendering a tongue, creating hair for the face and head, using render layers, and compositing the render layers in Photoshop.


Thinking Particles Part 2 - Intermediate Concepts

$65 - Eat3D.com

Quote - In this DVD Hristo Velev takes up from Part 1 in this series, to go deeper into the intermediate concepts of Thinking Particles. Everything from Raycasting, Referencing, Motion Inheritance, Generation, Driving Scene Objects, Shape Collision, Fragmentation, Caching, Joints, PhysX Dynamics, Deformation, Displacement, Map-Based Interaction, Particle Interaction, Custom Data Streams, FumeFX Interaction, and more are fully explored in this DVD.

This DVD is perfect for those who want to learn more about Thinking Particles and why many studios are using it in production today.


Environment Modeling for Games

$59 - TheGnomonWorkshop.com

Quote - In this demonstration, Nate explains and shows the process by which a piece of concept art is interpreted and used to model out a game environment in Maya. In the process, Nate will explain various modeling tools, techniques, and workflows, as well as numerous theories and methods used to create game art. A timelapse video of the entire modeling session is included so that the viewer can see and understand all the techniques being used. Nate will also cover common errors and mistakes to avoid so that the scene will run efficiently in real time and light correctly.


Introduction to ZBrush 4

$79 - TheGnomonWorkshop.com

Quote - Over the last decade, ZBrush has become the industry standard application for digital sculpting and has been used in nearly every blockbuster film and video game produced during that time. Introduction to ZBrush 4 with Scott Spencer provides the most comprehensive set of instructional videos ever created for ZBrush users, covering everything from the absolute basics, to more advanced sculpting and detailing topics. With nearly 14 hours of instructional video, Scott is able to provide a detailed understanding of each tool and process from a practical approach. He also demonstrates his sculpting workflow and speaks about specific production issues that arise in production pipelines.


Stylized Character Modeling for Production

$69 - TheGnomonWorkshop.com

Quote - In this DVD Alessandro shows his workflow to model a stylized character for production, based on a given concept. The essential steps are covered, starting with the presentation of the initial 2D concept and associated reference materials. Alessandro then demonstrates blocking out the character with ZSpheres in ZBrush using the concept as reference for proportions. This becomes his base in 3ds Max to block out all the main components through polymodeling. Next, he details the character with a combination of polymodeling techniques in 3ds Max and ZBrush sculpting. Particular attention is paid to keeping the topology of the various parts consistent for an animation environment, showing in particular how to efficiently retopologize parts in 3ds Max to achieve a better geometry distribution.


As any modeler knows, reference is an essential part of creating believable models in 3D. This is especially true when working on characters. Without accurate reference, you're left guessing as too what goes where, and that's never a good thing.

To save yourself the embarrassment and ridicule of your more knowledgeable peers, why not up your game with one of these ultra realistic, accurate anatomy reference statues or charts from AnatomyTools.com or TheGnomonWorkshop. Creepy as they may be, they're a valuable asset to any good character modeler's toolbox.


Female figure: Art-pro v2A

$299 - AnatomyTools.com

Quote - Medically accurate and incredibly detailed, 1/2 flesh and 1/2 anatomical dissection model. Cast in exact neutral grey satin, creates the complete range of correct light properties for ideal artistic study, removable head and magnetic removable arms. Internal 360° turntable.


Male Anatomy Figure V.3 with Medical and Wallchart Posters

$469 - TheGnomonWorkshop.com

Quote - Professional artist model for professional artists, sculptors, modelers. By sculptor and VFX artist: Andrew Cawrse.

Cast in a neutral matte gray with incredibly high detail and accurate proportions, this anatomical figure is designed for the artistic study of human muscular form, and its relationship with the skeleton. At 1/3 ideal human scale it is the perfect size for both individual or group drawing/ sculpting/ classroom study. Figure color was tested to provide the ideal range of of light and shadow values in typical natural or studio lighting conditions.


Wall-chart: Muscular System & Function

$40 - AnatomyTools.com

Quote - Wall-chart: Muscular System & Function 2 x sided. Includes anatomical names, primary muscle functions and actions. Also self-test chart, separate detail of foot, hand, eye and ear with an X-ray overlay of skeleton. Printed full-color, protected with heavy stock laminate, finished with metal hang rivets. 40"W x 26" H


Flesh Torso Set: Artist sequential reference busts

$139 - TheGnomonWorkshop.com

Quote - For the professional artist or aspiring art student. These busts are used to draw, paint, sculpt & 3d model from. After learning the skeleton bust, now learn the more advanced torso, recreating the fleshed torso & head. Understand the simplified masses, by following these 3 steps. From basic to advanced, they take you through how to easily establish correct blocked masses with proportion, sub-planes with volume & final sculpt.


Let's face it, painting textures or sculpting in Zbrush with a mouse, sucks! So avoid the problem all together while limiting your chance of getting Carpel Tunnel syndrome :( .

Tablets offer artists a chance to interact with the virtual world in a traditional pen & paper manner, making the whole process feel much more artistic, rather then technical. Wacom has long been the leader in tablet technology and offers a wide range of products in all sizes and price ranges! Let your mouse go, and pick up one of these babies today!


Bamboo Create

$199 - Wacom.com

Quote - Inspire. Create. Imagine. Bamboo Create opens up a new world for digital art and photo projects. With twice the workspace of other Bamboo tablets, Bamboo Create gives you plenty of space to express yourself, enabling broad brush strokes or arm movements.

Let your imagination soar as you freely and naturally draw, paint, doodle and sketch in your favorite software. Use software applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter™ Essentials, and Autodesk SketchBook Express, all included in the box, to explore a variety of digital media, including pencils, pens, markers, chalks, watercolors, oil paints and more. Your pen gives you the feel of working in natural media.

Bamboo Create is perfect for art projects that require a larger digital canvas. Turn digital images into special mementos. Use the pen to add hand-drawn embellishments or journaling to your projects and photos. Create unique, personal invitations, greeting cards and photo books to print and share digitally with friends and family.


Intuos4 Wireless

$399 - Wacom.com

Quote - Intuos4 Wireless connects to Bluetooth-enabled computers including those that are enabled with external Bluetooth USB adapters. It conveniently charges through USB and continues to work while charging.

With 40 square inches of working area, this ambidextrous, medium-sized tablet provides ample workspace for most tablet users and features the same productivity features as other Intuos4 tablets, including: eight customizable ExpressKeys with illuminated displays that provide easy reference for assigned functions, a finger-sensitive Touch Ring that controls up to four different functions per application, and best-in-class integration with popular software applications.

The Intuos4 Wireless Grip Pen features Wacom's new tip sensor technology delivering precise pressure control, beginning with as little as a single gram of pressure. With 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt recognition, the Intuos4 pen simulates like never before the natural feel and accuracy of working with traditional brushes, pens, and markers.


Wacom Cintiq 24HD

$2600 - Wacom.com

Quote - The Cintiq 24HD sports a generous 24 inch display, large color gamut, and wide viewing angle make it an ideal choice for color-critical work. In addition, the new, adjustable, ergonomic features of the Cintiq 24HD assure hours of comfortable and productive use.

Featuring a 1920 x 1200 HD display with 178° viewing angle and a 16:10 aspect ratio, the Cintiq 24HD lets you see the full beauty of your work. The display can also be color calibrated for color-sensitive workflows.

The angle and height of the Cintiq 24HD display quickly and effortlessly adjusts to your favorite work position. You can adjust the position of the stand so that the display overhangs the edge of your desk, allowing the stand to float just above your knees in an ideal position for working.

The Cintiq 24HD integrates Wacom’s most sophisticated pen technology, capable of detecting 2048 levels of pen pressure and 40° of tilt, which gives you precise control over pressure-sensitive effects such as line weight and opacity. Featuring Wacom's new Tip Sensor, Cintiq 24HD captures the slightest nuance of pen pressure, starting with as little as a single gram of force.

The Cintiq 24HD incorporates numerous productivity features to help you get the job done faster and better. Touch Rings positioned on either side of the display can be customized to perform time-saving functions such as zooming, scrolling and changing brush size. Ten fully customizable ExpressKeys™, in addition to the pen side-switch, can be set for application specific short-cuts and modifiers.


Here's some additional things we thought were cool enough to make the list. Below you'll find some smaller items that would be great additions to your office. As there are a massive amount of Value fans regularly cruising this site and creating content for us. We thought we'd include a few Valve certified products from ThinkGeek.com, which are sure to be a hit with Portal and TF2 fans alike!


Portal Bookends

$30 - Thinkgeek.com

Know a fan of Portal 2 by chance? Then check out these awesome bookends from Thinkgeek!


Portal 2 Co-Op Bots Poster

$9 - Thinkgeek.com

Now get this sweet Portal 2 poster to go along with those bookends!

- Dimensions: 24" x 36"


Portal Prints

$25-$40 - Thinkgeek.com

Not into posters? Well get these high quality prints for your lonely walls instead!

- Dimensions: 24" x 36"


Team Fortress 2 Poster Kit

$15 - Thinkgeek.com

Don't like Portal? How about this set of posters from Team Fortress 2! This kit includes four posters: the 1850s team poster, Scout Force of Nature, Spy vs. Sniper, and Soldier Victory. Class up your office with these beauties!


Glowing Keyboard Stickers

$5 - Thinkgeek.com

Constantly find yourself working in the dark, but are too lazy to get up and turn on a light? Well slap these glowing stickers onto your keyboard and never get up again! These are made from a high quality fluorescent print that will reflect any ambient light source. As a added bonus, they're great for late night gamers as well.


Boogie Board Rip

$130 - Thinkgeek.com

Great for quickly jotting down ideas or sketching up concepts. The Boogie Board Rip LCD Writing Tablet features a paper-like writing experience and offers the ability to save your scribbles and export them to your computer for later use. You'll save thousands of dollars in paper each year and that tree outside your window will thank you for it!


Scratch & Scroll Mousepad

$13 - Thinkgeek.com

Similar to the above listed Boogie Board Rip. The Scratch & Scroll mousepad gives you a convenient place to write down your ideas or take notes, it also doubles as a handy sketch pad, and of course if you're into writing Poetry or Haiku's, it'll do that too! Just lift up the surface and your work will be replaced with a clean slate.


AnimationMentor SPIKE Standing - Mousepad

$15 - Zazzle.com

Tired of that old fabric mouse pad you've been using since '85? Class things up with this awesome Animation Mentor branded pad featuring Spike, AM's crazed mascot!


PolyCount Wordmark T-Shirt

$28 - Spreadshirt.com

That tie-dyed t-shirt isn't as cool as it used to be! Get with the times and show the guys over at Polycount some love by sporting this simple, yet elegant wordmark tee from SpreadShirt.com

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