100 books like Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters

By Robert Beverly Hale,

Here are 100 books that Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters fans have personally recommended if you like Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Human Figure

Robh Ruppel Author Of Graphic L.A.

From my list on timeless art advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the “meme-ification” of the world, the long-form version of learning and practicing skills is getting lost. True discovery happens after a thorough and deep understanding of the subject. Truth is a multilayered, complex exploration that is hard to sum up in a single sentence. 

Robh's book list on timeless art advice

Robh Ruppel Why did Robh love this book?

Vanderpoel was JC Leyendecker‘s teacher in Chicago. You can’t go wrong by going back to the source. Underneath JC’s style, is rock solid form and structure. With slightly archaic language that takes a while to understand, this book offers huge insight into the structural thinking of how to draw and interpret the human figure.

By John H. Vanderpoel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Human Figure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This great classic is still unrivalled for its clear, detailed presentation of thousands of fundamental features of the human figure. Every element of the body (such as the overhang of the upper lip; the puckering at the corners of the mouth; the characteristic proportions of the head, trunk, limbs, etc.; the tension between connected portions of the body; etc.) is carefully and concisely pointed out in the text. Even more helpful are the 430 pencil and charcoal drawings that illustrate each feature so that you are, in effect, shown what to look for by a master teacher.
The result is…


Book cover of The Practice and Science of Drawing

Robh Ruppel Author Of Graphic L.A.

From my list on timeless art advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the “meme-ification” of the world, the long-form version of learning and practicing skills is getting lost. True discovery happens after a thorough and deep understanding of the subject. Truth is a multilayered, complex exploration that is hard to sum up in a single sentence. 

Robh's book list on timeless art advice

Robh Ruppel Why did Robh love this book?

The Practice and Science of Drawing is one of the few books worth reading every page of. I thumbed through it for years before finally reading it. The author breaks down drawing into two major categories, that of line and that of mass, and how they are distinct from one another, yet how they are intertwined in their ability to render form. An awareness of both concepts is crucial to a full education of the artist.

By Harold Speed,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Practice and Science of Drawing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Much of the learning to practice as well as to appreciate art is concerned with understanding the basic principles. One of these principles is what Harold Speed calls "dither," the freedom that allows realism and the artistic vision to play against each other. Very important to any artist or work of art, this quality separates the scientifically accurate from the artistically accurate. Speed's approach to this problem is now considered a classic, one of the few books from the early years of this century that has continued to be read and recommended by those in the graphic arts.
In this…


Book cover of The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing

Robh Ruppel Author Of Graphic L.A.

From my list on timeless art advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the “meme-ification” of the world, the long-form version of learning and practicing skills is getting lost. True discovery happens after a thorough and deep understanding of the subject. Truth is a multilayered, complex exploration that is hard to sum up in a single sentence. 

Robh's book list on timeless art advice

Robh Ruppel Why did Robh love this book?

This book offers the technical breakdown of painting in grisaille. I only know of a few books that cover it and this one was written by an amazing painter! This was the common practice of Bouguereau and Gerome and is thoroughly explained in this particular volume as well and the rendering of planar “facets.” The practice of grisaille is an important phase in painting. The separation of color and form is partly why so many of the “masters” had such control over form and value.

By Solomon J. Solomon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This instructive volume introduces not only the techniques of oil painting but also the underlying principles of figure drawing. Written by a distinguished Pre-Raphaelite painter, portraitist, and book illustrator, the treatment begins by explaining the construction of the figure, head, and limbs. Succeeding chapters illustrate these teachings with examples of images by the Old Masters, including paintings from the Italian, Dutch, Spanish, French, and British schools.
The Birmingham Daily Post pronounced this volume "probably the most useful handbook for art students that has yet been published." Students at every level of expertise will benefit from its discourses on light and…


Book cover of The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques

Robh Ruppel Author Of Graphic L.A.

From my list on timeless art advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the “meme-ification” of the world, the long-form version of learning and practicing skills is getting lost. True discovery happens after a thorough and deep understanding of the subject. Truth is a multilayered, complex exploration that is hard to sum up in a single sentence. 

Robh's book list on timeless art advice

Robh Ruppel Why did Robh love this book?

A photo book that breaks down composition into a very simple workman-like manner not relying on formula. Too many times composition is taught as a formula or “rules of thirds,” which simply scratches the surface as to what composition can and should be doing for the artist. The author offers a different perspective than that of a painter but just as valid.

By Joseph V. Mascelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Five C's of Cinematography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the aid of photographs and diagrams, this text concisely presents concepts and techniques of motion picture camerawork and the allied areas of film-making with which they interact with and impact. Included are discussions on: cinematic time and space; compositional rules; and types of editing.


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

Brian C Hailes Author Of The Dynamic Female Figure

From my list on art references for drawing the human figure.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Brian's book list on art references for drawing the human figure

Brian C Hailes Why did Brian 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 Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

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

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love 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.

By Michael Hampton,

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?

Figure Drawing: Design and Invention is an instructional figure drawing book geared towards the novice and experienced artist alike. This book emphasizes a simplified understanding of surface anatomy, in order to clarify the mechanics of the figure, facilitate invention, and ultimately create a skill-set that can be successfully applied to other media. In addition, this book focuses very strongly on practical usage, making sure the artist is able to assimilate the steps presented here into a cohesive working process. (Fourth printing, September 2011)

Figure Drawing: Design and Invention is an instructional figure drawing book geared towards the novice and experienced…


Book cover of Bridgman's Life Drawing

James Gurney Author Of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist

From my list on anatomy and drawing.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is James Gurney and I've been a professional illustrator for National Geographic and Scientific American for over 40 years. Although I went to art school, everything I know about drawing and painting comes from studying art instruction books, and from sketching directly from nature. I'm best known for writing and illustrating the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series, published in 32 countries and 18 languages. I designed 15 dinosaur stamps for USPS and a set of five dinosaur stamps for Australia Post. My originals have been shown in over 35 solo museum exhibitions. My book Color and Light has sold over 200k copies and was Amazon's #1 bestselling book on painting for over a year.

James' book list on anatomy and drawing

James Gurney Why did James love this book?

Bridgman's legendary figure drawing demonstrations at the Art Students League of New York have inspired generations of artists, from Norman Rockwell to Frank Frazetta. His dynamic, chunky form analysis reminds students of the big shapes and how they interlock with each other, which is easy to overlook when faced with the subtleties of the actual figure. 

By George B. Bridgman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Life Drawing is not so much a unique system of drawing the human form as it is a new way of conceptualizing it. To draw the figure, the artist must "have an idea of what the figure to be drawn is doing" — he must "sense the nature and condition of the action, or inaction." In this book, Mr. Bridgman, who for nearly 50 years lectured and taught at the Art Students League of New York, explains in non-technical terms and illustrations in hundreds of finely rendered anatomical drawings how best to find the vitalizing forces in human forms and…


Book cover of Constructive Anatomy

Brian C Hailes Author Of The Dynamic Female Figure

From my list on art references for drawing the human figure.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Brian's book list on art references for drawing the human figure

Brian C Hailes Why did Brian 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 Figure Drawing for Artists, 1: Making Every Mark Count

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

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love 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.

By Steve Huston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count is not a typical drawing instruction book; it explains the two-step process behind juggernauts like DreamWorks, WB and Disney.

Though there are many books on drawing the human figure, none teach how to draw a figure from the first few marks of the quick sketch to the last virtuosic stroke of the finished masterpiece, let alone through a convincing, easy-to-understand method.

That changes now!

In Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count, award-winning fine artist Steve Huston shows beginners and pros alike the two foundational concepts behind the greatest masterpieces in…


Book cover of The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

James Gurney Author Of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist

From my list on anatomy and drawing.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is James Gurney and I've been a professional illustrator for National Geographic and Scientific American for over 40 years. Although I went to art school, everything I know about drawing and painting comes from studying art instruction books, and from sketching directly from nature. I'm best known for writing and illustrating the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series, published in 32 countries and 18 languages. I designed 15 dinosaur stamps for USPS and a set of five dinosaur stamps for Australia Post. My originals have been shown in over 35 solo museum exhibitions. My book Color and Light has sold over 200k copies and was Amazon's #1 bestselling book on painting for over a year.

James' book list on anatomy and drawing

James Gurney Why did James love this book?

Disney animator Ken Hultgren shares an approach to drawing animals that emphasizes the unique characteristics of all the major types of mammals. His style features action poses ranging from straight to cartoony. His pen-and-ink drawings are usually accompanied by a skeletal analysis to help students see the hidden structure. He never loses sight of the lines of action flowing through a pose, something that both realist painters and cartoonists can benefit from.

By Ken Hultgren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"You'll learn everything there is to learn about drawing animals." — Collectors' Corner
This thoughtful and incisive guidebook, written by a former animator for Walt Disney Studios, will help artists at many skill levels improve their ability to draw a wide variety of animal forms both realistically and as caricatures.
You'll learn why the author considers construction, action analysis, and caricature all-important for a clear understanding of animal anatomy and movement. You'll also benefit from Mr. Hultgren's expert
advice and tips on catching the essential movement and character of animals and avoiding the stiff, wooden poses that are the frequent…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in drawing, figure drawing, and anatomy?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about drawing, figure drawing, and anatomy.

Drawing Explore 64 books about drawing
Figure Drawing Explore 12 books about figure drawing
Anatomy Explore 43 books about anatomy