The best books for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Author Of Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up
By Jason Cheeseman-Meyer

The Books I Picked & Why

Figure Drawing for Artists, 1: Making Every Mark Count

By Steve Huston

Book cover of Figure Drawing for Artists, 1: Making Every Mark Count

Why this book?

Steve Huston is one of my heroes. I love his art and I love how he talks about art. Steve walks with his feet firmly on the ground and lavishes the feel of the dirt between his toes. He talks about the lofty goals of being human and creating art in the most down-to-earth, practical ways.

And that's not a side-note to his how-to-draw book, that's the central message of this how-to-draw book. See the world, be in the world, trust and love your own senses, make contributions to the world. This book is filled with gorgeous drawings and a warm invitation to ways of seeing and drawing and conceptualizing the human figure.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

By Michael Hampton

Book cover of Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

Why this book?

This book really “clicks” with how I imagine the figure and how I draw. There are a hundred ways to learn to draw, and you need to find the one that clicks with how your brain works. But ways that don't click still strengthen you. Even if Hampton's approach isn't the right one for you in the long run, learning it and trying it out will only make you a better artist. There's great stuff here about visualizing form, and simplifying form while keeping everything living and breathing instead of stiff and posed. This is a great book for people who want to draw from imagination as well as from observation.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Anatomy for the Artist

By Sarah Simblet, John Davis

Book cover of Anatomy for the Artist

Why this book?

You gotta know your sacrum from your humerus, and you've gotta know what your sterno-cleido-mastoid attaches to. Even if you forget the names, you've got to learn the shapes and the jobs. This book is pretty awesome for that. And it's pretty, too. I love the mix of photos and drawings. The transparency overlays of muscle over bone are crazy fun and might be that experience that triggers your flash of insight. This book isn't an art-school classic like, say Fritz Schider's Atlas of Anatomy for Artists, but it's good solid material. Drawing from a live model, with this book on your knee for reference? That's a good time.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Curvilinear Perspective from Visual Space to the Constructed Image

By Albert Flocon, André Barre

Book cover of Curvilinear Perspective from Visual Space to the Constructed Image

Why this book?

This is my list so I wanted to include this book that was so key to me. This is an art book, but it's a very math-y art book with very few illustrations and almost no how-to step-by-step illustrations. It has pages and pages of “to draw a line from 30 degrees above the horizon and 15 degrees to the left of center etc. etc. etc.” text. It's a dense read, but it was the book that solved six-point perspective for me, which was a topic I'd been working feverishly on for a solid year and couldn't quite nail on my own. It really opened up my understanding of perspective, especially curvilinear perspective drawing. I owe this book (and Flocon and Barre) a lot.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel

By Edward Gorey

Book cover of The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel

Why this book?

You're drawing, you're painting, you're doing whatever you do – you're making things that weren't there before. You're creating images, you're creating visual stories. Sometimes creation is a thrill, and sometimes it's a bizarre disorienting struggle. Nobody expresses the creative life quite like Mr.Earbrass (and Edward Gorey). Is it a how-to book? No. Is it a how-not-to book? It's not really that either. It's a story about an eccentric novelist crafting his latest book. I give this weird little storybook as a gift to artist and writer friends all the time. Everyone I've given it to just raves about it.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.