I am an art teacher and professional artist, so naturally, many people ask me questions about learning how to draw. And some of the questions I hear most are about finding good books that can teach you to draw – so, in this article, I will share my recommendations for the best books you can find to help you to learn drawing!
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Top 4 Best Drawing Books Compared
By Barrington Barber; 2021 edition
By Mark Kistler
By Michael Hampton
Woo! Jr. Kids Activities Books
By Barrington Barber; 2021 edition
By Mark Kistler
Woo! Jr. Kids Activities Books
Table of Contents
- Best Books for Learning How to Draw in 2022
- Which is Better for Learning Drawing – Books or Classes?
- What Are the Best Online Classes for Drawing?
- Can You Learn to Draw from a Book?
- FAQs – Best Drawing Books
Best Books for Learning How to Draw in 2022
Best Drawing Books for Kids, Teens, and Teenagers
For younger kids, this super simple book doesn’t try to explain concepts or techniques but instead teaches through very easy and clear step-by-step exercises, allowing your child to practice and see results appear – almost magically – before them.
By Jacy Corral
Like the 101 Animals book above, this is a very simple, step-by-step workbook that doesn’t confuse your kids with abstract ideas but instead lets the concepts and techniques come to them naturally by simply drawing and seeing what appears.
The perfect next step for younger kids, this book still stays away from concepts and boring explanations, but expands your child’s understanding and technique simply by covering a wider range of objects and subjects and very slightly more advanced practice.
Older Kids, Teens, and Teenagers
By Woo! Jr. Kids Activities
For older kids, this is a fantastic book for learning and practicing – it teaches you basic concepts clearly and easily and gives tons of fun exercises and clear illustrations.
By Rachel A Goldstein
A really fun way to learn, see and understand line, shape, perspective, three-dimensionality, relationship, and how things appear – so many fun examples and exercises, each of which can be applied to more “serious” drawing and artwork.
People and Characters – Portraits, Comics, Anime, Manga
By Erik DePrince
A really fun and really easy way for younger kids to learn to draw faces with life, personality, and style.
A nice balance between concept and practice, this clear and complete book focuses on the most important aspects of portrait drawing and brings forward the importance of life and realism as well as accuracy.
A great book for adults, this thorough and thoughtful step-by-step guide teaches proportion, balance, line, and flow of realistic shapes and poses with an ideal combination of illustration, practice, and concept and a fun and fresh approach.
By Shinjuku Press
A very clear and complete guide to drawing Anime and Manga-style characters, as well as learning the basics of general portrait and character drawing. Excellent instructions and guides keep your kid encouraged and having fun.
Plants, Animals, and Nature
The title and the cover make this book seem very basic – and it is – but despite the almost cartoonish look of some of the drawings, which is great for kids, they learn how to draw plants and flowers that are realistic and effective.
By Lee J Ames
A comprehensive book of step-by-step lessons on drawing all kinds of creatures, this is a simple and fun approach from one of the most popular and beloved authors of kids’ drawing books.
A thorough and intelligent approach to drawing landscapes and natural elements, this wonderful book is also easy and fun. It makes even complex landscapes and nature settings quite manageable for beginners.
As simple as it gets, this book has over 50 ideas for dresses, each with a pre-drawn mannequin figure, and encourages practice and personal creativity while developing an eye for form, flow, and beauty.
By Kerri Quigley
An intermediate fashion design book for kids, with nice illustrations and simple text and tons of ideas and inspiration.
By Carolyn Scrace
This advanced book teaches not just the look, flow, and feel of fashion but, along the way, helps your older kid master human shape and proportions, shading, detail and texture, light and shadow, and a lot more – and still, it’s remarkably simple and fun!
Science Fiction and Fantasy
By Rockridge Press
A very basic book that introduces the most simple drawing concepts and techniques in a way that your kids will love and find delightful.
By 3DTotal Publishing
A fun and interesting book that is as good at developing your child’s imagination as it is at teaching techniques and encouraging practice.
A fascinating book that not only brilliantly teaches more advanced concepts but also brings the mind and creative process to embrace complex stories and relationships and to connect visuals and narrative more organically.
Best Drawing Books for Beginners
By Mark Kistler
A fun and positive primer on learning to draw that stresses than anybody can draw, and everybody has hidden artistic talent – a wonderful book and a great place to start.
By Mark and Mary Willenbrink
This highly popular book focuses on technique, down to the most basic strokes and movements, in order to not just teach but encourage you with great results quickly – this book really does lead to beautiful and very realistic renderings in a short time!
Both a great beginner’s drawing book and a way to naturally and effectively reach higher levels and make your drawings more realistic and advanced.
Best Drawing Books for Intermediate Artists
We should note, before jumping in with this more in-depth and thorough list of books, that these are all very special and effective volumes for teaching and advancing intermediate artists and drawing students, but at the same time they are all great for beginners as well.
So if you are really an absolute beginner, with little or no experience, you might want to start with one of the above books, or pick something from the first section here – General Drawing Techniques.
But even if you are a beginner, if you’ve got a bit of experience already, and have been practicing with some good and encouraging results – or if you’re just a natural genius! – it might be interesting to read the various sections below and select a book or two on areas that interest you, or ones you might need a bit of help with.
And if you’re more of an intermediate artist, or even fairly advanced, any of the below books can move you on to much higher levels, and at the same time help you really understand drawing and art more clearly and completely.
General Drawing Techniques
A true classic, Speed’s book takes a unique approach in balancing absolute understanding of all basic techniques and the technical aspects of drawing against the artist’s own personal vision.
A great book, then, for not just realistic drawing exercises and learning the whole art and practice of drawing, but also blooming as an artist, and one that has for countless people lead to delightfully successful drawing.
One of the very best and most complete books on basic drawing skills, The Art of Basic Drawing covers basic forms, objects, scenes, people and wildlife, along the way teaching many invaluable tricks and techniques and helping you develop your artistic vision and define your own individual approach.
By Barrington Barber; 2021 edition
A book that I know mostly through recommendations from others, Barber’s illustrated Fundamentals of Drawing is praised for its completeness, its clear descriptions of both concepts and techniques, and how it helps you understand what drawing is all about.
An advanced primer on pencil drawing, Rines’ book offers advice and techniques which can prove equally applicable to other media, traditional or digital, as well.
Accuracy, discipline and completeness are the emphasis, but this book somehow never fails to be fun and inspirational. Mostly, though, it is extremely effective, and can make a big difference for any intermediate or advanced artist.
Another true classic, and one of the most widely known and beloved of all art instruction books, How to Draw What You See has been a best-seller for fifty years and a blessing for all sorts of visual artists.
Best described as a book for basic, intermediate and advanced techniques and artists, it is especially valuable in its treatment of two crucial areas: seeing and understanding how things appear; and moving from drawing into other media.
Human Figure and Anatomy
This is arguably the most complete and accurate life drawing reference for any artist who really wants to see how a human body is put together, how it occupies space and how it moves.
Detailed illustrations and descriptions help you understand how a body really looks, from the inside and outside, allowing you to draw figures with true insight and, as a result, startling accuracy.
Join me in the class, where I take you through the journey of making your characters more lively, expressive, and dynamic, by using simple shapes and drawing poses and gestures.
A less detailed and exhaustive reference than the Atlas mentioned above, Hampton’s brilliant book on figure drawing, focuses more on the actual techniques you can use to translate deep understanding of human anatomy and structure into actual drawing.
An excellent book unto itself for learning how to draw figures and gesture drawing, this is ideally combined with Peck’s volume to make an unbeatable learning and reference set.
Revered by professional artists and art teachers and professors, Andrew Loomis’ figure drawing books are some of the best books you can wish for as an artist! It is beautifully made and it will teach you to draw figures, gesture drawing in a simple and straightforward way.
Perspective, Space and Relationships
Join me in the class, where I take you through hands-on examples of basic perspective rules so you can improve your artworks.
An incredibly simple book, covering one of the most important of all aspects of drawing, Perspective Made Easy is a masterpiece of repetitive drawing exercises, clear explanation and complete coverage of this crucial subject.
Another great Dover Art Instruction book, and a must-have for any artist on any level!
One of the most complete books available for teaching perspective, Montague’s Basic Perspective Drawing is written in a clear, friendly manner from a true authority in the field.
More advanced than the title may suggest, this is nonetheless a book that start at the most basic level, but one you may well keep, and keep referring to, throughout your life.
Pen and Ink Drawing
The cover of this classic tome, its 60th Anniversary Edition newly edited by Susan Meyer, claims that this is “the most comprehensive book ever published on the subject of ink drawing,” and there is no doubt in my mind this is true.
It is arguably the very best teaching book as well.
With rich and abundant illustrations and clear instructions and explanations, Rendering in Pen and Ink is both fun and enormously useful for absolute beginners and professionals alike.
Shorter and more concise than Guptill’s exhaustive primer, this delightful book covers every aspect of pen and ink drawing with real clarity, and has in a short time become one of the most beloved and well-reviewed art books available.
Nature and Landscape
Like the human anatomy books above, Knight’s Animal Drawing: Anatomy and Action for Artists provides a deep understanding of the way animals are put together, how they move and how they appear in the world.
Valuable for this, and for the detailed and easy to understand instructions he provides, this book is perhaps most important for its countless examples of animals drawn with life, energy, accuracy and personality.
This beautiful book teaches how to accurately draw plants, flowers, vines and leaves, but from the slightly different viewpoint of an illustrator.
In this way, it is a super helpful book for both the aspiring nature artist and the aspiring illustrator, illuminating each side with the techniques and perspectives of the other.
An excellent treatise on seeing things as they actually appear, on using simplicity to render complexity, and on learning, practicing and mastering both time-honored and new drawing techniques, Brooker’s new book is perhaps the best available for learning landscape drawing, as well as a great work for learning drawing in general, applicable to pretty much any subject matter.
Digital and Computer Drawing
Our last set of recommendations is a bit of a tricky one. I don’t think learning drawing on a computer, phone or tablet is the right approach – it is far, far better to learn to draw with a pencil, or pen and ink, and paper.
So instead, in this place, I will recommend that you learn to draw and paint digitally following the hands-on classes on Skillshare:
Why is Drawing So Important?
I am safe to say that drawing, specifically drawing practice, is the most important basic skill any artist can have.
It doesn’t matter if you want to create comics, manga, or anime characters, if you want to become a painter, an animator, an illustrator, if you’re into digital art, whatever you want to do – if you learn them, the basics of the drawing will help you all the time, and make everything you do better – and more fun!
You may not even realize it, but when you learn how to draw the right way – whether from an online course, a book, or in person with a teacher – at the same time, you are learning a little bit of every single aspect of making art, including:
- Realistic shapes and objects – animals, buildings, nature, people, and characters
- Perspective, relative size, and relationship
- Light, shadow, and color
- Surfaces and Textures
- Movement and Flow
- Shape and Size
- Capturing Energy and Life
- Overall Composition
- Seeing with an Artist’s Eye
The great news is that drawing can be easy to learn with the right book (or even the right teacher or class), and you can have a great time doing it.
What is the Best Way to Learn How to Draw?
I would say that the best way to learn to draw depends on your level:
If you’re just starting out, like a beginner, or if you’ve never had any lessons, you’re going to need to practice – and it’s wonderful if the practice and exercises lead to really cool and beautiful results right away.
This makes practice and learning more fun, keeps you encouraged, and keeps you going, and you’ll learn faster and faster.
And if you’re more intermediate, practice is still important, and fun and productive lessons are great, but they should reveal new things and help you understand more advanced stuff.
The best intermediate teaching will, for example, let you see perspective and relationships open up before you while you’re drawing, or shape and shading, or energy and movement, so you can master them and understand them at the same time.
Which is Better for Learning Drawing – Books or Classes?
Some people seem to learn better with a teacher, and others seem to do really well with books, so it just depends.
Anyway, you probably already have a pretty good idea if you would do better on your own or by taking a class.
But even if you like working with a teacher – online or in person – it seems that most people can also learn well with the right book on drawing.
And even if you are taking a class, having a good book for learning drawing – as a backup, for practice exercises, and to get new ideas – can be a great idea!
But whichever way you go, getting the best books and/or the best classes is good.
What Are the Best Online Classes for Drawing?
Although this is an article on drawing books, let’s take a moment to talk about a couple of really great online learning platforms, which will help learn the basics, better understand some of the concepts of drawing, and of art in general, and even take you to more advanced techniques – if you want, and when you’re ready.
I am a big fan of Skillshare, a wonderful online art learning platform. I am so proud to be a part of this community as a teacher, and you can find lots of my own classes there – including beginner courses on drawing people, composition, perspective, and digital drawing – but there are tons more teachers and so many great art classes available.
I also enjoy and partner with the Evolve Artist Program, which is great for beginners but is a kind of complete approach, taking you from the most basic basics to full mastery in drawing, painting, and all aspects of art, in an amazingly well developed, well produced and well-presented series of classes.
So if you just want some basic instruction, or just a single class or two, please check out Skillshare, or even look at some of my own classes through my website’s Classes Page, and if you want a full art education, I think Evolve is about as good as it gets!
People also have a lot of success and fun with classes on the Udemy and Domestika learning platforms, which both have a big variety of classes on drawing and art, so you might want to check them out as well.
Can You Learn to Draw from a Book?
Yes, absolutely – and in fact, people have been learning how to draw from books for as long as there have been books – well, not quite, maybe, but for a long, long time, and they keep getting better and better!
Good drawing books will be nicely illustrated with examples of exactly what you are learning and practicing and will present the ideas and exercises so simply and clearly that you can understand immediately and get to drawing.
And the best drawing books will be really fun to read, use and learn from – this to me is ultra-important, because if you are enjoying the learning process you will stay more connected and encouraged, you’ll keep practicing and keep going.
So let’s look at some really great choices, from the most basic to more advanced, with this curated list of the very best drawing books on the market today!
FAQs – Best Drawing Books
The best drawing book for beginners is You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler because it takes you on a step-by-step journey of drawing popular subjects, building your confidence along the way.
Yes, if you get a good drawing book, it can do wonders to teach you the basics of drawing and also help you improve your artistic talent. My favorite drawing book is The Fundamentals of Drawing: A Complete Professional Course for Artists by Barrington Barber.
Anybody can learn the basics of drawing from a good book, and the best books will also teach you how to see like an artist and appreciate and develop your own artistic talent. I recommend the drawing book The Fundamentals of Drawing: A Complete Professional Course for Artists by Barrington Barber to start with.
I hope my guide helped you to find the best drawing book for you or the artist in your life and I especially hope that you, I, and all of us continue to do what makes us happy and that none of us ever stops learning!
Other articles in the Art Books series and resources:
- Best Pose Reference Websites, Apps, and Books
- Best Color Theory Books
- Best Art History Books
- Best Perspective Books and Online Courses
More articles on pose references, figure drawing, and human anatomy:
- Best Pose Reference Websites, Apps, and Books
- Anatomy for Artists: Resources
- Best Drawing Figures for Artists
Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur livre pour apprendre à dessiner en 2022
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