The best books on anatomy and drawing

James Gurney Author Of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist
By James Gurney

The Books I Picked & Why

The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

By Ken Hultgren

The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

Why this book?

Disney animator Ken Hultgren shares an approach to drawing animals that emphasizes the unique characteristics of all the major types of mammals. His style features action poses ranging from straight to cartoony. His pen-and-ink drawings are usually accompanied by a skeletal analysis to help students see the hidden structure. He never loses sight of the lines of action flowing through a pose, something that both realist painters and cartoonists can benefit from.


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Bridgman's Life Drawing

By George B. Bridgman

Bridgman's Life Drawing

Why this book?

Bridgman's legendary figure drawing demonstrations at the Art Students League of New York have inspired generations of artists, from Norman Rockwell to Frank Frazetta. His dynamic, chunky form analysis reminds students of the big shapes and how they interlock with each other, which is easy to overlook when faced with the subtleties of the actual figure. 


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The Human Figure

By John H. Vanderpoel

The Human Figure

Why this book?

John Vanderpoel, who studied in France at the Académie Julian, offers a classical approach to figure drawing, noteworthy for its timeless grace. His approach focuses on the important planes of the figure understood in terms of simple light and shade. Male and female models are analyzed in many detailed drawings of parts, such as the head, neck, torso, and limbs. The plates are so good that it would profit a student to systematically copy all of them.


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An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists

By W. Ellenberger, H. Baum, H. Dittrich

An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists

Why this book?

This is a useful reference book, dominated by large and carefully drawn plates. The animal kingdom is represented by a small number of familiar domesticated mammals: horse, dog, cow, and goat, together with a lion. Each animal is shown in neutral poses in side, top, and front views, with skeletal and muscular dissections for comparison.


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The Artistic Anatomy of Trees

By Rex V. Cole

The Artistic Anatomy of Trees

Why this book?

This book is a good one to consult when one needs a reminder that not all trees look the same. Cole draws upon the Victorian tradition of close observation of nature, and he analyzes trees at the level of roots, branches, stems, blossoms, leaves, and foliage masses. The book transcends the limits of a botanical treatise by exploring artistic issues, such as the grouping of masses and the simplification of contours. The text is profusely illustrated with black-and-white explanatory drawings, as well as compositions by early masters.


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