The best drawing books 📚

Browse the best books on drawing as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Artistic Anatomy of Trees

The Artistic Anatomy of Trees

By Rex V. Cole

Why this book?

This book is a good one to consult when one needs a reminder that not all trees look the same. Cole draws upon the Victorian tradition of close observation of nature, and he analyzes trees at the level of roots, branches, stems, blossoms, leaves, and foliage masses. The book transcends the limits of a botanical treatise by exploring artistic issues, such as the grouping of masses and the simplification of contours. The text is profusely illustrated with black-and-white explanatory drawings, as well as compositions by early masters.

From the list:

The best books on anatomy and drawing

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Book cover of The Practice and Science of Drawing

The Practice and Science of Drawing

By Harold Speed

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books for timeless art advice

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Book cover of Creative Illustration

Creative Illustration

By Andrew Loomis

Why this book?

Long out of print and expensive, this classic of illustration techniques has been republished. Although it was first published over 70 years ago, the sections on color and painting will prove useful for any artist, whether they work for concept art, galleries, or illustration. Loomis was a top magazine illustrator and devoted his later years to writing encouraging and practical guides that covered all the key topics.

From the list:

The best books on color and painting

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Book cover of Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters

Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters

By Robert Beverly Hale

Why this book?

Hale’s book uses master drawings as the basis for his analysis. He shows the critical thinking that went behind the draftsmanship and offers a few choice words on conceiving a solid shape before trying to render it. Style is great but style without understanding is just a bad xerox of an idea. Hale offers a deeper dive into understanding what all those bumps and lumps are and more importantly, the hierarchy to where they sit and what to emphasize. Mindless rendering never helped anyone.

From the list:

The best books for timeless art advice

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Book cover of Drawing: A Complete Guide

Drawing: A Complete Guide

By Giovanni Civardi

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.

From the list:

The best books on how to draw

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Book cover of Sketching for the Absolute Beginner

Sketching for the Absolute Beginner

By Peter Cronin

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.

From the list:

The best books on how to draw

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

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