My Top 10 Art Book List!
2yr
Kristian Nee
Hey everyone! I've been seeing a few people ask about general art book lists to look at when learning how to draw. I thought I'd make this thread to share my top 10, and so others can share theirs. Hope this helps! 1. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton https://www.amazon.com/Figure-Drawing-Invention-Michael-Hampton/dp/0615272819 Michael Hampton's book has had a huge effect on me. It's not as clean as I'd like to draw, but the gesture, and anatomical break downs are extremely good. Everytime I look at his book, I find something new I didn't learn on my first time through. I've had the book for about 6 years now, and it's travelled with me all over the world. 2. Figure Drawing for All It's Worth by Andrew Loomis https://www.amazon.com/Figure-Drawing-All-Its-Worth/dp/0857680986 This is the classic book everyone recommends. It is dated, but the concepts are timeless. The way he explains things, and his examples are worth way more than the price of the book. Just owning it to see him apply these extremely simple concepts to complex images is worth it. 3. Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman https://www.amazon.com/Constructive-Anatomy-Dover-Artists/dp/0486211045 I don't recommend this book for beginners, but everything he's done is a master class on shape design. Some of his students include some of the most famous Illustrators of the past 100 years, including Norman Rockwell. Jim Lee describes Bridgman as one of the most important drawing books in his life. I'll admit he is an acquired taste, but once you do start appreciating his drawings you'll always be impressed by him. 4. The Art Spirit by Robert Henri https://www.amazon.com/Art-Spirit-Robert-Henri/dp/0465002633 I can go on an list hundreds of books on learning how to draw, but all of them art pointless if you don't have a why. I'm not sure how I feel about Henri's art (it's good, just not my taste), but his why to art could inspire anyone. It's a book that's not meant to be read in one sitting. It's something you look at while you're feeling discouraged, or burnt out on drawing. 5. J.C. Leyendecker: American Imagist https://www.amazon.com/J-C-Leyendecker-American-Laurence-Cutler/dp/0810995212 To preface, I have no interest in painting like J.C. Leyendecker. I love his images, but they're too precise for me. The reason I'm putting him in this list is because of his dedication to his craft. He has hundreds of illustrations that are all master works in commercial work. Leyendecker's love for his craft doesn't have to be said, it's demonstrated in his body of work. Even if you don't want to paint like him, just his work alone will inspire you to work harder and do better. 6. Eleeza: The Art of Eliza Ivanova https://www.amazon.com/Eleeza-Art-Eliza-Ivanova/dp/1912843080 Eliza's work is incredibly inspiring to me. She worked at Pixar as an animator for years, and still found time outside of work to dedicate to doing these drawings. They're so different from her work at Pixar, and the reason that's amazing to me is that she was able to have two distinct artistic voices. Another reason to take a look at her work is it's an example of how you don't have to do hyper precise drawing to make pretty drawings. To me her artwork is an expression of her, not an expression of how she wants other to see her. That confidence is something that I want to aspire to in my own drawings. 7. Eclipse: The Well and the Black Sea by Justin Sweet and Vance Kovacs https://www.amazon.com/Eclipse-Well-Black-Justin-Sweet/dp/069252469X Justin and Vance's book for me is an example of what art is supposed to be all about. Just playing around with ideas and telling stories. @Scott Flanders turned me onto their work, and since then I've been obsessed with their drawings. It's so loose, and free but still does a really great job telling the stories they want to tell. Another example of doing art for the message, rather than to just impress other people with how "good" a drawing is. 8. The Big Kopinski by Karl Kopinski https://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Kopinski/dp/B07KZG7D51 @Karl Kopinski's work speaks for itself. To me he's like a 12 year old who's REALLY good at drawing. It seems like he just plays all day, drawing orcs, robots, sexy ladies, and pirate battles. He's another example of a love for the craft and how much fun art can be when you love it. 9. Figure Drawing for Artists by Steve Huston https://www.amazon.com/Figure-Drawing-Artists-Making-Every/dp/1631590650 Steve Huston's book came to me later in my art education, so it didn't have that much of an effect on my development. That being said, his explanations for using simple concepts to create complex drawings are extremely useful. Also his philosophy on art is something that I admire greatly. 10. SPARROW: Phil Hale https://www.amazon.com/Sparrow-Phil-Hale-Number-Book/dp/1600100406 Phil Hale is my favorite living painter. His wacky, disturbing, ideas combined with insane painting skills make me smile. I'm not sure I'd want to paint the things he's painting, but that freedom he has to paint car crashes and robots inspires me.
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Olga Bruser
Not sure if anyone mentioned but for animal drawing these are amazing: Hultgren - The Art Of Animal Drawing Ellenberger - Atlas Animal Anatomy For Artists Eliot Goldfinger - Animal Anatomy for Artists The Elements of Form For anatomy and clothing: Burne Hogarth Goldfinger - Human Anatomy for Artists and obviously Bridgman Famous Artists course has a lesson on every topic.
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Tristan Elwell
I'd definitely recommend Harold Speed's two books, The Practice and Science of Drawing and Oil Painting Techniques and Materials: https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Science-Drawing-Dover-Instruction/dp/0486228703 (Out of copyright, so also available at https://archive.org/details/practicescienceo00speerich) https://www.amazon.com/Painting-Techniques-Materials-Dover-Instruction/dp/0486255069 The great thing about Speed's books is that you can read them when you're first starting out and get a huge amount from, then go back in five/ten/fifteen years and get just as much, if not more. Obviously, since they're around 100 years old a lot of the info on materials is outdated, and his writing style is a bit formal to today's ear, but once you get used to it he's actually quite engaging, unlike, say, Bridgman. Another book I can't speak highly enough about is Molly Bang's Picture This: How Pictures Work: https://www.amazon.com/Picture-This-How-Pictures-Work/dp/1452151997 It looks deceptively simple, but it is HANDS DOWN my favorite book about composition and visual storytelling.
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Kalvin Lyle
I tossed most of my books in my last move and I only kept the following art books: "How to Render" Scott Robertson: https://www.amazon.com/How-Render-fundamentals-shadow-reflectivity/dp/1933492961 "Constructive Anatomy" George Bridgeman: As above "Colour and Light" James Gurney: https://www.amazon.com/Color-Light-Realist-Painter-Gurney/dp/0740797719 "Drawing the Head and Hands" Andrew Loomis: https://www.amazon.com/Drawing-Head-Hands-Andrew-Loomis/dp/0857680978 "Designing Creatures and Characters" Marc Taro Holmes: https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Creatures-Characters-Portfolio-Animation/dp/1440344094
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Sam Guss
I LOVE Designing Creatures and Characters! One of my favorite books. Many of my art books (including this one) are fairly new - within the past couple of months. This one though has me getting ready to start exploring the projects inside and aiming for the achievements. I have the other 3 books as well - again all new, so still flipping through them. Color of Light would be my next favorite in the group
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Kristian Nee
Great list! I haven't heard of Designing Creatures and Characters. I'll have to check it out!
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João Bogo
Oh man, I have half of these. Michael Hampton's book is amazing! I've been trying to buy for years, but importing it to Brasil has become more and more very expensive. The Big Kopinsky is beyond impossible at this moment. 😂 About your comment on Karl kopinsky , in the end, aren't all artist 12-year-olds that can draw?
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Kristian Nee
Yeah, I chose some pretty popular ones, and some less well known ones. They're all good though. Hopefully you'll be able to pick up Hampton's book one day! The Big Kopinski is a really good book, I definitely recommend it if you can pick it up. In response to all artists being 12 year olds. Absolutely! I really admire when artists are free and draw whatever they want. I think Karl is a great example of someone who takes being a kid to heart when it comes to his art.
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Nanna Skytte
Yay! This is awesome! - I love book lists thanks for sharing
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Gianmario Gatti
my whishlist on amazon will grow by the comment now
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Kristian Nee
Haha, my list is way too long
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Art Anderson
It is so interesting I do not have any of these books. Bridgman and Loomis are both on my need to work through list. I am working through the Morpho series from Michel Lauricella. I really like the Morpho simplified forms book it has really helped me be able to see how everything fits together in the body.
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Kristian Nee
Hey Art! This sort of stuff isn't required reading. These are just the books that have influenced me. You can totally choose your own!
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Sagnik Kirtan
Every book of Andrew Loomis is quite undisputedly good for drawing anything , from drawing from imagination, or making a character, to sketching or painting a potrait from life. I would like to recommend the book 'Fun with a Pencil', for those who are having hard time to grasp Loomis methods for drawing.
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Kristian Nee
Loomis is definitely one of the greatest art teachers of the last 100 years. I remember seeing an original illustration of his at Comic Con a couple years ago on sale for $3000 and thought wow, that's incredibly low. Still a lot! But still relatively affordable.
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Nate
2yr
Bridgman was an incredible discovery for me, one of those teachers that clearly impacted so much of the art I loved and I didn't even know he existed until a couple years ago. Michael Hampton's book is also indispensable. It really lays the foundation for more complex understanding of figures and anatomy without getting too much into the weeds and overwhelming less experienced artists.
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Kristian Nee
Bridgman's drawings are some of my favorite images ever made lol. They rank higher than a lot of famous paintings for me. So crazy that drawings of arms, legs, and torsos can be so cool haha Hampton's stuff is really cool. It was the first real art book I discovered and I felt like it opened a new world of art to me.
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Andrea
As a beginner, I really appreciate your list. I have heard of Loomis and Bridgman but the others are all new. I am interested to look into them more. Thanks
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Kristian Nee
Yeah, those books on the fundamentals of drawing are great. But the books that are all about applying those skills are really important to look at as well.
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Christopher Lebreault
I wish there was a save post option because this is such a great list I'll come back to multiple times I'm sure.
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Kristian Nee
I'll ask Stan!
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adri_art76
I totally agree with you on Eliza's art. It is something I want to aspire to with my work as well.
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Kristian Nee
Yeah, it's so dream like. Really inspiring to look at
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Charline B.R.
I have the same 2 top book, the next in line for me would be : 3. Anatomy for Sculptor https://anatomy4sculptors.com/collections/books/products/anatomy-for-sculptors-understanding-the-figure This book is full of picture and 3D scan with comprehensive shape-over-the-picture to show where muscle go, which shape they take and how they twist. It's close to what Michael Hampton and Proko do but with photo and 3D shapes. Very nice as complement for learning human anatomy. 4. Framed Perspective by Mateu-Mestre (all 3 book series) https://www.amazon.com/Framed-Perspective-Vol-Technical-Storytelling/dp/1624650309/ref=pd_bxgy_img_3/133-4808372-8385137?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1624650309&pd_rd_r=532b4ce8-7bca-47ff-bc3c-93e20be9700b&pd_rd_w=IMPdA&pd_rd_wg=ZHTXu&pf_rd_p=fd3ebcd0-c1a2-44cf-aba2-bbf4810b3732&pf_rd_r=HR9AXXZGS079DS0YCDFM&psc=1&refRID=HR9AXXZGS079DS0YCDFM When I came back to learn how to draw with perspective, I first used Andrew Loomis from "Successful Drawings". But Mateu-Mestre made the serie as exercises he process himself (and you can do too, it's made for you to practice while reading). It go slowly in complexity with some point about why, how, when use such perspective. It was the best all-in-place I found. It may look scary but it really help building environments. 5. Invisible Art from Scott McCloud (tome 1 and 2) https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Comics-Invisible-Scott-McCloud/dp/006097625X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=invisible+art&qid=1621454815&s=books&sr=1-1 This one is not really a how-to but more of a philosophical essay that present the various aspect of comics. It's super dense, it's a comics about comics and it should be read as such. You don't have to read it in one go, it's the kind of book you come back at from time to time and re-read part. It's a bit dated now, I think the author released another version, but honestly all this guy create is really insightful regardless :) 6. Framed Ink by Mateu-Mestre https://www.amazon.com/Framed-Ink-Drawing-Composition-Storytellers/dp/1933492953 This is more about composition and story boarding, Mateu display is way of creating the composition dynamics, then how it apply when the picture is draw. At minimum it show that a good preparation is mandatory before even starting to render shapes. It's a bit difficult for beginner, but I recommend to save it for later when you feel more confident. 7. Framed Drawing Techniques by Mateu-Mestre https://www.amazon.com/Framed-Drawing-Techniques-Mastering-Storytelling/dp/1624650406/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Framed+Drawing+Techniques&qid=1621454697&s=books&sr=1-1 Yes, I know, Mestre again. This book present various way of drawing/rendering depending on the tool you use. More than just that, I recommend reading it at least for the though he put in there, it's full of common sense but sometime even the obvious has to be said. In my case I learned quite a few thing thanks to this book and it helped break bad habit I was forming. 8. The Animator Survival Kit https://www.amazon.com/Animators-Survival-Kit-Principles-Classical/dp/086547897X/ref=bmx_4/133-4808372-8385137?pd_rd_w=T7FaU I used this book more when I was a 3D artist, but for cartoonist a lot of action and movement rules described here can be applied as well. Movment amplification, counter balance, rythme, etc... The simplicity and all the example make it a great book even for beginner, but it focus mostly on characters and stylized drawing. 9. The illustrated dinosaurs encyclopedia by David Norman https://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-Encyclopedia-Dinosaurs-David-Norman/dp/B000K1QCSS I have the old one from... huh... 1990, at this time it was a treasure with skeletons and structure description, drawings... I know there are newer version that are probably even better, I saw one with muscle depicted in it (maybe not from this edition though). It's a great source if you plan to draw creatures. 10. Any book from the edition "Fernand Nathan" or more generally good illustrated atlas for nature. I found it more interesting than book with just photo-picture because the shapes are already simplified by the artist, it help reading them better while understanding the overall structure of the animal or plant. That's it for me...
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Kristian Nee
A bunch of yours on your list almost made mine!
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James Doane
That's a great list!! I also like Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life.
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Kristian Nee
All of his stuff is amazing! I own all of his books in separate volumes, I gotta pick up that one at some point
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Scott Lewis
I am fond of "The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing" by Anthony J. Ryder
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Kristian Nee
I'm unfamiliar! I'll have to check that one out
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