The best books for how to draw for animation, video games and comics

Why am I passionate about this?

My career has spanned all genres of entertainment and I have taught thousands of students across three decades. I share with those learnings. I have been trained at Walt Disney Animation Studios, freelanced for Marvel Comics, been an art director in video games for decades, owned three of my own businesses in art fields, and written many books on drawing. I share with you some of my favorite books, books that you can learn from if you apply the information within and therefore gain the ability yourself to create inspired work.


I wrote...

FORCE: Dynamic Life Drawing

By Mike Mattesi,

Book cover of FORCE: Dynamic Life Drawing

What is my book about?

Bring your artwork to life with the power of the FORCE! Watch, listen, and follow along as Mike Mattesi demonstrates the fundamental FORCE line and explains dynamic figure drawing techniques through 30 videos that are launched through the book's companion App. Packed with superb, powerfully drawn examples, the updated third edition of FORCE features an all-new section on the "FORCE blob," and dozens of fresh illustrations.

Mike Mattesi’s 10th-anniversary edition of FORCE will teach readers how to put thought and imagination to paper. Whether you are an illustrator, animator, comic book artist, or student, you'll learn to use rhythm, shape, and line to bring out the life in any subject. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Mike Mattesi Why did I love this book?

I went to school to become a comic book artist and have been taught by many amazing professionals in that industry, including world-renowned Will Eisner. Even so, Scott McCloud’s book is chock full of clear information about the skills it takes to learn about the craft of comics. Cleverly, the book is taught in a comic book format, making it enjoyable and easy to understand comics!

By Scott McCloud,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Understanding Comics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling international classic on storytelling and visual communication "You must read this book." - Neil Gaiman Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.


Book cover of The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, Tv, and Digital Media

Mike Mattesi Why did I love this book?

Bruce Block has taught at many of the studios in the film industry and now you can also learn about the tools of art that can be used to elevate your art to entertainment industry standards. I myself have worked in animation, video games, and comics. In video games, I have been an art director for many years and when I discovered this book, it dramatically increased my ability to be a better AD. Not only is this book broken down into clear topics with numerous visuals to help you understand but Bruce also shows you have to chart these tools allowing you to art direct your own projects. Every artist and visual creative person should own this book.

By Bruce Block,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Visual Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This updated edition of a best-selling classic shows you how to structure your visuals as carefully as a writer structures a story or composers structure their music. The Visual Story teaches you how to design and control the structure of your production using the basic visual components of space, line, shape, tone, color, movement, and rhythm. You can use these components to effectively convey moods and emotions, create a visual style, and utilize the important relationship between the visual and the story structures.

Using over 700 color illustrations, author Bruce Block explains how understanding the connection between story and visual…


Book cover of Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers

Mike Mattesi Why did I love this book?

Marcos has been a DreamWorks concept artist for many years and shares his trade secrets in this beautifully illustrated book about composition. I myself have taught composition for decades and Marcos does a great job of sharing tools to direct an audience’s eye to where you want them to look. Learn how to do this in your own illustrations. Composition is one of the most important skills to learn in art and one of the least successfully and clearly taught.

By Marcos Mateu-Mestre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ultimate guide to visual storytelling! How to make the audience ""feel"" the story while they are ""reading"" the story. Using his experiences from working in the comic book industry, movie studios and teaching, Marcos introduces the reader to a step-by-step system that will create the most successful storyboards and graphics for the best visual communication.

After a brief discussion on narrative art, Marcos introduces us to drawing and composing a single image, to composing steady shots to drawing to compose for continuity between all the shots. These lessons are then applied to three diverse story lines - a train…


Book cover of Frank Frazetta: The Living Legend

Mike Mattesi Why did I love this book?

This book is not so much educational as it is inspiring. Frazetta’s work has inspired me and my students for the last three decades. When I attended art school in New York, I discover that Frazetta had a gallery in East Stroudsberg, PA. I would travel there in the hopes of meeting him in person, an event that never occurred. I did have many discussions with his wife and I would spend hours in the gallery attempting to decipher how Frazetta created the dynamic, illustrious sci-fi and fantasy illustrations. Also, something that never occurred. This particular book presents Frazetta’s ink drawings, masterfully drafted and full story.

By Frank Frazetta, Eleanor Frazetta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Frazetta, Frank, Frazetta, Eleanor


Book cover of The Illusion of Life

Mike Mattesi Why did I love this book?

I started my career at Walt Disney Animation Studios one year after graduating from school. I have the good fortune of working on The Lion King and learned a great deal about art, story, and collaboration while at the studio. This book is the best when it comes to understanding the tools to 2D animation and to many of the same skills used today in 3D animation. This book covers ideas in drawing, the principles of animation, and much more, all written by two of the nine old men, Frank and Ollie, masters of the craft.

By Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Illusion of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most complete book on the subject ever written, this is the fascinating inside story by two long-term Disney animators of the gradual perfecting of a relatively young and particularly American art from, which no other move studio has ever been able to equal.

The authors, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, worked with Walt Disney himself as well as other leading figures in a half-century of Disney films. They personally animated leading characters in most of the famous films and have decades of close association with the others who helped perfect this extremely difficult and time-consuming art form. Not to…


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We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

New book alert!

What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope…

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


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Interested in video games, comics, and film?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about video games, comics, and film.

Video Games Explore 95 books about video games
Comics Explore 118 books about comics
Film Explore 233 books about film