The best books of beautiful draughtmanship

The Books I Picked & Why

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook

By Alan Lee

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook

Why this book?

My sister read the Lord of the Rings trilogy to me when I was a kid while we were on holiday in Scotland and it was hugely inspiring. Growing up I thought I would like to illustrate the books - until Alan Lee did it so perfectly. No one can better his interpretation, as Peter Jackson will agree. His delicate pencil work and subtle use of colour have always, for me, set the bar for illustration. A highlight of my career has been having my own work exhibited alongside his.


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Arthur Rackham: A Life with Illustration

By James Hamilton

Arthur Rackham: A Life with Illustration

Why this book?

A fascinating in-depth insight into the personality, career, and work of Rackham, who I view as the king of the golden age of illustration. His fine draughtsmanship and ability to create fantastical worlds and characters that range from the grotesque to the beautiful inspired me from an early age. The pages are packed with artwork done in his trademark pen and ink and watercolour. 


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The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century

By Gabriel Hemery, Sarah Simblet

The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century

Why this book?

This book contains exquisite pencil and ink drawings by Dr. Sarah Simblet who teaches at The Ruskin and Christ Church, at Oxford University. Her observational work is second to none and through it, she explores the relationship between science, history, and art. She is dedicated to sharing visual intelligence and promoting understanding through art.  This is complemented perfectly with the text by Gabriel Hemery who gives an in-depth insight into the value of one of our most treasured assets – the trees of our land.


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The Magic of M.C. Escher

By J. L. Locher

The Magic of M.C. Escher

Why this book?

"Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?"

Escher was a master of graphic art, design and visual deception. His playful sleight of hand with perspective has intrigued and delighted me since I was a boy. This book shows not only his myriad of artworks but also his working drawings that give an insight into his mathematical mastery of geometry, which gained him the title of ‘the father of modern tessellations’.


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Gustave Dore (1832-1883): Master of Imagination

By Philippe Kaenel

Gustave Dore (1832-1883): Master of Imagination

Why this book?

Doré was a prolific artist who illustrated editions of the Bible, Dante's Inferno, Poe's The Raven, and The Adventures of Don Quixote. He was a veritable ‘dream machine’ with multi-disciplinary skills. His depictions of London never cease to amaze me with the intricacy of his observation. The fact that he also turned to sculpture and not to mention his influence on early cinema are all aspects that fill me with awe especially when considering his life was cut short at 51. The epic quality of his work inspires me hugely and this big book encompasses his whole career with lots of well-reproduced images, and the photograph of him on page 17 always makes me laugh.


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