The best art reference books for drawing the human figure

Who am I?

Born at the base of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, I began exploring and sketching the world—as most children do—at a very early age. I continued to pursue not only my artistic path through traditional schooling, higher education, and endless hours of practice, but also my love of storytelling. Intrigued by Science Fiction and Fantasy, many of my projects reflect elements of the fantastic, but I also appreciate the beauty and elegance in fine art masterpieces. I studied illustration and graphic design at Utah State University and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my beautiful wife and four boys, where I continue to write, paint and draw regularly.


I wrote...

The Dynamic Female Figure

By Brian C Hailes,

Book cover of The Dynamic Female Figure

What is my book about?

Draw It With Me: The Dynamic Female Figure art book explores anatomical, gestural, comic/anime, and fine art/life drawing studies of the human female form in dramatic poses and angles, offering step-by-step examples and process descriptions using these varied artistic approaches. To help inspire and educate the novice and master artist alike.

With over 200 full colorfully illustrated pages by award-winning artist/illustrator and #1 Amazon bestselling author, Brian C. Hailes, this book features supine, standing, seated, leaping, flying, crouching, fighting (and more) dynamic female figure sketches and masterpieces, using varying media and from differing angles / light sources with many photo references of the models included.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Figure Drawing: For All It's Worth

Brian C Hailes Why did I love this book?

This figure drawing guide is a classic, and for good reason. Artist Andrew Loomis wrote this book for those who have graduated from the fundamentals of drawing and are ready to embark on their artistic careers. The focus is on aesthetic as well as practical, and leans toward a more commercial approach rather than fine art, but will be helpful to both disciplines. Loomis includes chapters on anatomy, planes and lighting, drawing from living models, the figure in action, and costume, among others. He discusses idealization and other tricks of the trade to help the reader produce superior work. Explanatory sketches and examples of some of his own best sketches appear on almost every page. Originally published in 1943 this book continues as a solid reference for artists struggling to perfect their own skills.

By Andrew Loomis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Figure Drawing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The illustrator Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) is revered amongst artists - including comics superstar Alex Ross - for his mastery of figure drawing and his clean, realist style. His hugely influential series of art instruction books have never been bettered, and "Figure Drawing" is the first in Titan's programme of facsimile editions, returning these classic titles to print for the first time in decades.


Book cover of Anatomy for Artists: A Visual Guide to the Human Form

Brian C Hailes Why did I love this book?

I’ve always felt that a foundational knowledge of human anatomy is an absolute necessity for anyone serious about becoming a figurative artist. It’s like learning how to dribble if you want to play for the NBA. Although I used a different anatomy book growing up, An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists by Fritz Schider, I feel that Anatomy for Artists is a more solid choice for today’s up-and-comers. It’s an extensive compendium of high quality, detailed photography, and drawings, showing the human figure in a variety of shapes, sizes, and poses. It consists of stunning photography and comprehensive drawings showing the muscular structure of figures of varying body types. These male and female references will act as an invaluable starting point for artists trying to create art based on the human form.

By 3dtotal Publishing (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anatomy for Artists as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anatomy for Artists is an extensive compendium of high quality, detailed photography and drawings, showing the human figure in a variety of shapes, sizes and poses that can be used as a solid foundation for all character art.This thorough and detailed library of visual resources will consist of stunning photography and comprehensive drawings showing the muscular structure of figures of varying body types. These male and female references will act as an invaluable starting point for artists trying to create art based on the human figure. Whether you're a traditional sculptor, oil painter or 3D digital artist, the resources within…


Book cover of Constructive Anatomy

Brian C Hailes Why did I love this book?

I would call Bridgman’s approach to the figure, contour simplified. Countless artists and students since the 1920s have used this and other books by Bridgman, who taught for nearly 50 years at the Art Students League in New York, for a solid foundation and understanding of human anatomy. I think his unique way of discovering the vitalizing forces in the human form and realizing them in drawing carries the student pleasantly over one of art's most severe hurdles. Bridgman's superb anatomical sketches, of which there are nearly 500 in the book, also bring clearly to fruition his lucid theories of how to draw the human body in its structure and its complex movements. And he simplifies them in a helpful way.

By George B. Bridgman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Constructive Anatomy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Excellent. The most valuable, detailed anatomical studies (which are also beautifully drawn) of all parts of the figure." — American Artist
"The best book on artist's anatomy available anywhere." — Art Students League News
Countless artists and students since the 1920s have used this and other books by George B. Bridgman (for nearly 50 years a teacher at the Art Students League in New York) for a solid foundation and understanding of human anatomy. They have found, and continue to find, that his unique way of discovering the vitalizing forces in the human form and realizing them in drawing carries…


Book cover of An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists

Brian C Hailes Why did I love this book?

This is the artist's anatomy book I grew up studying throughout high school and college, and it goes deep into the structural and anatomical anatomy of the body. It gives good illustrative examples of the skeletal and muscular systems as well as providing a few photographic references for both male and female anatomy. It is a pretty old volume, having been originally published in 1957, but the principles remain the same and it holds up pretty well. For anyone serious about learning to not only draw or paint from life, but also the imagination, I highly recommend this foundational and educational reference guide.

By Fritz Schider,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I recommend Fritz Schider's Atlas of Anatomy for Artists to those who wish to increase their understanding of the human figure." — Robert Beverly Hale, Lecturer on Anatomy, Art Students League of New York. Adopted by Pratt Institute, Cleveland School of Art, Art Students League of New York, and others.

For more than forty years, this book has been recognized as the most thorough reference book on art anatomy in the world. Schider's complete, historical text is accompanied by a wealth of anatomical illustrations, plus a variety of plates showcasing master artists and their classic works on the anatomy of…


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Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Introspective Observant Bookish Friendly

Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, and they get on well. She will be on sabbatical fine-tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off-season?

Soothed by sea breezes, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late artist partner, Red is befriended by a flirty neighbor and her surfer husband, and Sharon shares her literary passions with a sexy retiree. When the winds of the pandemic blow, they have to confront their past within a daunting future.

Is off-season an opportunity for renewal or a glimpse of what might have been?

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

What is this book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, she will be on sabbatical fine tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off season? On the other hand, what else might he have in mind and what will she face if she lets her guard down? Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late partner, a Fauvist painter. Then, Red is…


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Interested in figure drawing, anatomy, and atlases?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about figure drawing, anatomy, and atlases.

Figure Drawing Explore 12 books about figure drawing
Anatomy Explore 36 books about anatomy
Atlases Explore 9 books about atlases