The best books on how to draw

Carole Massey Author Of Drawing for the Absolute Beginner
By Carole Massey

Who am I?

I have always loved to draw ever since my Dad used to sit drawing with me at the kitchen table when I was little. At Art School we had to spend the first six weeks doing a daily life drawing class before being allowed to pick up a paintbrush! I then studied graphic design setting up my own business, at a time when, without computers, drawing was essential for presenting layout and design. Nowadays, I’m constantly instilling in my students the importance of drawing and sketching. Having been a professional artist all my working life, drawing has been a fundamental element in every way, and all the way.

I wrote...

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner

By Carole Massey,

Book cover of Drawing for the Absolute Beginner

What is my book about?

The book is a complete drawing course, designed to help you progress from simple techniques such as lines, circles, squares, and ellipses to capturing landscapes, figures, and buildings.

There are numerous simple step-by-step demonstrations as well as larger projects, and outline tracings are provided of the more complex drawings that you can transfer straight onto your paper. Most of the artworks in the book are created using pencil, but Carole also uses ink, ballpoint pen, pastel pencil, and water-soluble pencils to encourage you to experiment with other media too. By the end of the book, you will have learnt all you need to know to take your drawing skills further and become an accomplished artist in your own right.

The books I picked & why

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Drawing: A Complete Guide

By Giovanni Civardi,

Book cover of Drawing: A Complete Guide

Why this book?

In this 376-page drawing “bible”, all aspects of drawing are covered in great detail, from portraits and figure studies to still life and landscapes. After the first chapter on materials and equipment, Giovanni illustrates the bone structure, musculature, and features of the head, hands, and feet using pencil, ink, and charcoal. It’s the most comprehensive approach I’ve seen in any portrait book.

Further chapters on shadows, shading, composition, sketching, perspective, and aerial perspective are also extremely helpful. This book is a mine of information, and one I turn to when in need of technical know-how for portraiture.

Sketching for the Absolute Beginner

By Peter Cronin,

Book cover of Sketching for the Absolute Beginner

Why this book?

I love sketching and encourage my students to do as much as possible to improve both drawing techniques and observation. In this comprehensive book, Peter guides us through many different aspects of sketching using pencil, pen, and pen & wash, demonstrating his S-E-T method, reminding us constantly to consider Shapes, Edges, and Tones. His drawings and pen and wash studies are a feast for the eyes; he guides the reader through simple step-by-step drawings as well as larger projects, and everything is conveyed in an easy-to-understand way, making it a pleasure to dip into this book.

Drawing Landscapes

By Margaret Eggleton,

Book cover of Drawing Landscapes

Why this book?

This comprehensive guide to drawing landscapes includes six step-by-step as well as many examples of Margaret’s work. With her wonderful drawing ability she is able to create stunning landscapes, some with incredible detail, some much looser, maintaining compositional balance throughout. I recommend this book to the beginner and more experienced alike as I think it has something for everyone. For anyone who wants some guidance for drawing landscapes, this book will inspire whatever your level of ability.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

By Betty Edwards,

Book cover of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Why this book?

If you think you can’t draw, then read this book! It’s a bible for anyone wanting to draw, and is by all accounts “the world's most widely used drawing instruction book.” If you want to start drawing or have been unable to get much beyond a “childlike level,” the exercises in this book will help you gain those skills you have always sought.

I often use the “Upside down Drawing” exercise with my portrait classes; my students are usually astounded at how quickly and accurately they can produce a likeness! This is a fascinating book and whether you are an experienced artist or just starting, it will give you inspiring confidence and deepen your artistic perception.

Drawing Perspective

By Tim Fisher,

Book cover of Drawing Perspective

Why this book?

Perspective is essential for good drawing but something that a lot of people find a struggle. Tim has treated every aspect of perspective in a simple and interesting way so that anyone can understand it. As well as buildings and landscapes, Tim also covers topics not so obvious - people, animals, boats and reflections, and more. He also shows how perspective applies to curved objects and inclined planes, and suggests how to correct common mistakes as well as moving on from rigid rules to a freer and more instinctive way of drawing. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in drawing, visual perception, and art?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about drawing, visual perception, and art.

Drawing Explore 56 books about drawing
Visual Perception Explore 10 books about visual perception
Art Explore 83 books about art

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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