The Best Drawing Books Every Artist Needs

The Best Drawing Books Every Artist Needs

by K. Vanessa

Practicing and making a numerous number of sketches are one way to improve your drawing skills. But if you feel like taking a new perspective on learning how to draw, you might consider investing in excellent drawing books. Those are forever pieces that provide you with a great amount of professional information, illustrations and tips to bring out the most of yourself and learn fundamental concepts. So if you’re about to expand your art book bucket list, use this guide to pick the ones you want to include.

We have collected 12 of the best drawing books every artist should have on their shelf. Scroll through the list and read our introduction before deciding on your new favourites. The followings are introduced:

  1. Bert Dodson: Keys to Drawing
  2. Mark Willenbrink‎: Drawing for the absolute beginner
  3. B. Bradley: Drawing People
  4. Walt Stanchfield: Drawn to Life
  5. 3dtotal Publishing: The Sketch Encyclopedia
  6. Rudy De Reyna: How to Draw What You See
  7. Gilles Beloeil: Art Fundamentals
  8. Joanna Henly: Pocket Art - Portrait Drawing
  9. Curtis Tappenden: Learn to Draw and Paint
  10. Christopher Hart: Modern Cartooning
  11. Kimon Nicolaïdes: The Natural Way to Draw - A Working Plan for Art Study
  12. Jackie Battenfield: The Artist's Guide - How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Bert Dodson: Keys to Drawing

The Keys to Drawing art book is one the most basic books an artist has to own. It’s the bible of drawing. It teaches you the most essential techniques such as how to hold your fingers, hands and shoulders to mark the most accurate lines. Moreover it guides you to pick up how to define precise measurements and apply them when sketching a live object on your paper. There are several mini lessons included to help you master your skills, so getting this book is highly recommended if you want to learn how to draw on a professional level. There’s also a checklist to help you evaluate your process and get better every single day. It’s the must have book for beginners!

Mark Willenbrink‎: Drawing for the absolute beginner

This book provides you with a clear and comprehensive guide to learn how to draw from the total beginning. It covers how to choose the best materials for your artwork, apply the right techniques, use proportions and perspectives and master your skills overall. All of the basic techniques are explained in detail to help you understand concepts and apply them in real life. We highly recommend using this book if you’re just about to start drawing as it explains everything clearly.

B. Bradley: Drawing People

It’s the ideal book if you have any interest in drawing people. Being different from most of the character drawing books, this features the best advice and tips on how to draw people in clothes. From children to teenagers and adult body types, Barbara Bradley’s book presents a wide range of figures and explains how to sketch them on your paper. This book is great preparation if you’re planning to work with fashion sketches later.

Walt Stanchfield: Drawn to Life

drawing book

The Drawn To Life art book is the perfect reference if you’re interested in creating character drawings with a focus on emotions and personality. It’s a book that teaches you how to draw people in everyday situations, master the sketching of body language and preserve precious moments in the form of drawing. This drawing book specialises in introducing how to capture moments and gestures of your environment. It’s a heavier reading, so make sure to get back to it continuously. It’s guaranteed that you’ll learn something new every single time.

3dtotal Publishing: The Sketch Encyclopedia

The Sketch Encyclopedia displays over 900 drawing projects and ideas that you can use as an inspiration if you don’t know what to draw. It guides you on creating complex artworks by breaking down each project to the smallest steps. It’s very convenient to follow along the guide and you’ll end up producing a well-crafted piece of art. The lessons include the drawing tutorial of landmarks, architecture, cars, people and many more. But it’s not limited to that. The book also features the most essential drawing tools and covers the basic drawing techniques too. To get a better understanding of them, check our previous article, where we explain the total basics. All in all, the book is an ideal choice for artists on any level.

Rudy De Reyna: How to Draw What You See

The How to Draw What You See Book is a relatively old one, but its concept and educational content is impressive. It teaches you how to see objects to draw them accurately. The book has clear explanations and very good visual details. What is more, it not only covers pencil drawing, but in the last sections it makes mentions on charcoal and watercolour works too. So if you’re looking to expand your knowledge and skills, this book will be a good guideline for you.

Gilles Beloeil: Art Fundamentals

The Art Fundamentals drawing book is an ideal piece if you want to learn about theory, composition and design rules. It’s one of the most comprehensive books explaining how to draw by following the most essential drawing theories. It explains perspectives, composition building, the Golden Triangle rule and also how to use lights. This book is something you can read again and again. It serves like a textbook as the content is instructive and very detailed. Following the theories that are included in the book will make you an artist with a clear understanding of drawing concepts who has a strong basis to build upon.

Joanna Henly: Pocket Art - Portrait Drawing

If you want to get a deeper knowledge about portrait drawing, the excellent expert tips of this mini sized drawing book is a must-read. So small, that it fits in any bag but with valuable content. It’s perfect for total beginners but surely gives a new perspective to the ones who practiced portrait drawing before. It introduces face drawing and provides you with amazing tips on how to create drawings for commercial use. It’s a manual book with very clear explanations and tutorials that are easily understandable and applicable on any level. The book itself is very inspiring as it’s filled with a great amount of illustration and portrait drawings.

Curtis Tappenden: Learn to Draw and Paint

If you’re interested in both drawing and painting, this book will help you build extensive skills in both mediums. The book is mainly made for intermediates, but beginners can find something useful in it as well. From contouring, lines, perspectives and toning, all the essential techniques are explained and illustrated in the book. It features pencil and charcoal drawing, while the painting section introduces oil, pastels and watercolours. It’s ideal for students who enjoy completing exercises from books, as it’s filled with tasks and practicing activities.

Christopher Hart: Modern Cartooning

drawing book

Cartoon drawing is a fun activity, giving you the possibility to create your own characters and tell stories through them. If you want to expand your knowledge on how to develop cartoons, invest in this epic drawing book. It shoes you everything from the first steps, such as how to draw faces, body parts and illustrate emotions. There are dozens of examples featured in the book to give you inspiration on how to get started. The book is a great choice for both beginners and intermediates.

Kimon Nicolaïdes: The Natural Way to Draw - A Working Plan for Art Study

We recommend this excellent drawing book for artists with some previous experience on character drawing as it focuses on the meanings and concepts behind the lines. It's all about quick sketching and tips on how to develop your skills when making rapid drawings. If following the guidelines and lessons of this book, you’ll be able to draw body poses and models in 3D. You’ll get a better understanding of tones and contours and you’ll practice worrying less on the quality of the lines. This book is the perfect completion of croquis and 5 minute sketches.

Jackie Battenfield: The Artist's Guide - How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

If you have enough practise and you consider making a living from creating unique artworks, then this art book is a must have! It covers essential topics you need to learn about before starting your art-career. The book is filled with real-life examples and gives you the best advice on how to draw and sell your works. This book includes tips on self-management and explains why and how to promote yourself. It also helps you how to build a comprehensive portfolio that stands out and reflects you as an artist.

This list should help you find drawing books to help you get better. But if you’re a beginner looking to get the essential tools an artist needs besides books, make sure to read our post about the must have drawing materials and art supplies.

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