When you purchase through some links on our website, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This is how it works.

Best Perspective Books and Online Courses in 2023

By Iva Mikles •  Last Updated: Feb 12, 2023 •  Guides • Books for Artists

Since perspective is such an essential part of art and art education, I think it is important enough for any artist and designer to really study it in both concept and execution.

So, in this article, I share a practical guide to excellent perspective books and online learning resources you can take advantage of. Let’s have a look!

My Top 3 Perspective Books

Overview: Best Perspective Books for Artists and Designers

If you feel that your art education in general, is a little lacking and that you could benefit from learning or even just refreshing your knowledge of not just perspective but all of the elements, techniques and methods of art, this is your book. This is one of the best and most highly regarded general art education textbooks ever written, and the sections focusing on perspective are outstanding – a very effective and valuable resource.

Too often we limit our study of perspective to scenes – landscapes, cityscapes, rooms and even still lifes, but fail to consider the representation of perspective in drawing people, which lack can make portraits and figure drawing flat and lifeless. While not offering specific instruction, Cody’s critically acclaimed classic atlas offers an exhaustive look at the human body in various depths of perspective – an essential reference for the serious portrait or character artist.

Mostly focusing on architectural drawing and interior designers, John Montague’s book is a great place for beginners to start, with a fresh approach to understanding perspective, precise and understandable instructions and clear step by step illustrations supporting each lesson.  

Written by one of the most important and influential artists, art educators and administrators of our time, Creative Perspective offers one of the best and most complete treatments of perspective in all its aspects, and then goes on to show and tell us how to creatively break the rules we just learned. Lovingly written and illustrated with examples from many interesting modern artists, this is a delightful book and I highly recommend it!

Drawing Perspective & Space: Basic Principles of Drawing in Perspective B/W

Markus Sebastian Agerer, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016

An excellent basic text on drawing with perspective and a sense of space, Agerer’s book covers landscape perspective, light and shadow, object drawing and proportion, as well as offering a clear and understandable explanation of perspective as a concept and a part of art and artistic rendering. 

Especially valuable for two things – how to see the world in a clear three-dimensional way, and how to apply this new way of seeing to your art – Brehm’s very basic and easy to follow book is fast becoming a classic, and not just among artists.

Mateu-Mestre’s award winning two volume work is extraordinarily popular among visual storytellers – comic book artists and graphic novel artists, concept artists and animators – but is valuable to anybody who wants to not only understand perspective, but especially to use perspective to add energy and to focus the narrative in stories, and to maintain space, order and flow in even highly complex scenes.

Originally published almost exactly 100 years ago,Miriam Dora Norton’s great classic remains as valid and applicable today as ever, and the language seems not just contemporary but fresh and clear. With less emphasis on technical drills and data and more on seeing and spontaneously rendering, this is a book that captures not just the essence of perspective as an element of art, but the spirit of artistic creation itself.

Probably the most overlooked and least covered aspect of perspective is light and shadow. For beginners the most fundamental concepts and techniques are quite thoroughly explained in the excellent Light, Shade and Shadow (just below), but the advanced artist – in traditional or digital media – needs a master course and reference, and there is absolutely no finer book on the subject than Yot’s brilliant, provocative and delightful work. Highly recommended!

Just as Yot’s masterpiece in advanced light, shadow, space and dimensionality is a required work for the master artist, this beloved classic, first published over a century ago, is the perfect introduction for the beginner or art student. A clear, entertaining and exceptionally helpful explanation of light, shadow and physical shape, this book will greatly enhance your ability to draw and paint with realistic space and perspective.

This brand new book offers one of the most clear and effective explanations of what perspective is – especially as it applies to landscape / cityscape scenes – and how to achieve it effectively and consistently in your art. If you just don’t get perspective, even after reading other books, I’m willing to bet that you will after reading this simple and accessible book.

For painters, who can’t always rely on all of the tricks and techniques available to people who are drawing, this is a wonderful book, helping you understand how to achieve a real and believable sense of space and depth in your paintings using not only some of the conventional methods, but also color, texture, light, flow and related ideas around placement and composition. Maybe the best way for many painters to take their work to the next level!

Almost every book on this list of best art books to learn perspective concentrate of working in two dimensional media – either physical or digital – but Gambrel’s recent classic is a fascinating and masterful example of perspective in interior design – not by providing explanations of technique or concept, but simply by showing examples of his incredible work and short snippets of his thoughts and process. Every single photo shows real ingenuity and effectiveness in the use of colors, texture, light, placement and juxtaposition in creating energetically three dimensional space. A beautiful and illuminating book!

It seems that for every hundred books on perspective in drawing there’s maybe one book on perspective in painting. It doesn’t matter, though, as long as there is even a single book as masterful and helpful as Yarnell’s project-based book, which teaches the use of light and shadow, color theory, texture, line and motion as they relate to perspective, and in ways that are particularly applicable to painting and especially valuable to the painter.

An industry standard and maybe the most effective and excellent book of its type, Beduhn’s comprehensive work details specific techniques, and the reasons and ideas behind them, for every single part of interior and space design. Equally old school and high tech, this valuable (and, admittedly, fairly pricey) book relies heavily on on-line video lessons, which come free with purchase, and also touches on digital media – though mostly focusing on pen or pencil and paper. Brilliant, and absolutely essential for any designer!

Originally published some 90 years ago, Doust’s short and simple book for the beginning artist teaches perspective in a refreshingly light-hearted (and often quite funny) way, and yet with a clarity and completeness many larger, and much more serious, volumes can’t match. A great beginner’s book, and also a fine choice for an experienced or advanced artist who wants a quick and fun refresher.

A classic and widely used handbook for artists of all types, D’Amelio’s clear and concise little book can be thought of as a reference for use when working, but in fact it can also be used as a textbook, with very short explanations and very clear illustrations that can, in their way, teach you the whole picture of perspective in art.

An inexpensive and exhaustive primer for all aspects of perspective, in concept and in practice, originally published in 1921, Cole’s textbook certainly takes an old-fashioned (and, for some, maddeningly slow and detailed) approach to teaching, but you will definitely leave with a complete understanding and mastery of perspective in art.

This three book set has become something of a cult classic – not just for its hipness or its innovative approach to teaching, but for its extremely effective and applicable lessons. An important resource for comic artists who make comic books, graphic novels, animations, storyboards and the like, and a valuable and entertaining read for any artist, Chelsea’s three volume treatment of perspective and how it can enhance storytelling, drama and action is highly recommended.

From the authors of the acclaimed and enormously popular Drawing for the Absolute Beginner, this new book continues in that style, with fresh and attractive prose, clear and helpful explanations and really effective examples and exercises. Covering interior space, exterior scapes and objects, this is a surprisingly complete work, perfect for the absolute drabeginner but going into advanced techniques and basic concepts as well. By itself a brilliant and indispensable text on learning and using perspective, and in combination with their first book one of the best and most complete ways to learn how to draw.

A fresh and delightful approach to teaching perspective, this extremely popular and critically acclaimed book offers fairly complete coverage of the basics of perspective drawing. I have to say that the comic strip type approach and simplistic language may not be to everybody’s taste, and seem a bit out of place when more advanced concepts are being discussed, but Perspective Made Easy book is really popular among artists!

Remarkable for their natural approach to teaching and learning perspective drawing – no complex equations or deep concepts, just seeing and doing – Metzger’s books are also great because of how they cover not just lines and shapes, but light, color and texture as well, and because they are applicable to not just drawing, but painting and really any other medium, including digital art. Great starter books, and an equally great resource for advanced artists, covering both the basics and the most complicated techniques and practices with equal clarity and effectiveness.

Just as the name claims, this is the most complete and comprehensive book on perspective in art I have ever found, including history, concept and execution. Not the easiest book to read, and not a quick reference, Attebery’s work is also perhaps not the best choice for new artists who want to learn the basics in a more quick and simple way. But for the advanced artist who is willing to invest some time and effort in order to take their art to amazing new levels, this is a must-have, and is a great classic in the art community.

All of the books in the Urban Sketching Handbook series are great, but I am happy to close this buyer’s guide to the best books for learning perspective by giving a little love to Stephanie Bower’s two amazing volumes – the first specifically about perspective, and a fantastic book, and the second sharing some of her best drawing and sketching techniques and artistic insights, a surprising number of which seem to directly or indirectly touch on realistic perspective and space. These are both fantastic books that I recommend enthusiastically!

Best Online Courses for Learning Perspective in Art

As far as online courses go, well, there are also an almost overwhelming amount and variety of them, and finding the best courses on perspective can be equally challenging.

As many of you know, I am, in addition to being a commercial artist and blogger, a pretty successful and active online art teacher. I like to think that my teaching style cover subjects in a really complete, effective and enjoyable way, covering everything you need to learn and especially concentrating on not just the information, but how to practically apply that information to your art.

I also hope that my courses really convey my enthusiasm and love of the subject, of art and of teaching, and that this enthusiasm carries over to my students and makes the whole learning experience more fun and effective. 

I have put together a nice basic course on perspective – not just understanding perspective, but also specifically achieving the best sense of perspective using the Procreate drawing program. This course is of course especially helpful for people who make art on their iPads using Procreate, but the tips and techniques, as well as the basic information and understanding, apply nicely to other programs and devices, as well as to traditional media as well. 

If you want to check out this class you can find it here – Basics of Perspective in Procreate. I also recommend checking out the perspective courses on great online learning platforms like Skillshare, the Evolve Artist Program. There are, again, lots of choices, but these online schools are really great, with wonderful teachers, intelligent and well designed course content and real relevance, and are highly recommended – by me and lots of others!

Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Learning and Mastering Perspective in Art: The Best Books and Online Courses – and please check out my website – Art Side of Life – for more guides, articles, tutorials, artist interviews and tons of other resources for commercial artists, fine artists, art students and beginners, crafters and anybody else exploring their own creative side!

Other articles in the Art Books series and resources:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

Reated posts: