The best drawing art books deserve a place on your bookshelf! Be sure to check out these resources when you are looking to draw anything, from figures to landscapes and more. Some are even available for free online.
Drawing art books are my favorite probably because I feel like the works are close enough to the originals that I can get a sense of them, as opposed to a life-size painting or bronze sculpture.
So Many Drawing Books, So Little Time
And there are so many areas of drawing to cover, so a library of books really comes in handy. I have drawing books of basics and essentials. Then I have books of just a single artist, with post-its sticking out all over the place where I’ve marked the drawings that illustrates a technique I want to explore further or are simply my favorites.
There are anatomy drawing books, which don’t get pulled out as often as I should. I have shelves of books of drawing exercises, and even books on simple drawing tips from when I was a kid.
If it sounds like I am a bit of a book hoarder, it is probably because I am. My collection goes back to childhood. I have the first book I ever read, the first series I ever read, and even books I can’t remember reading but just can’t bear to part with.
But there are a few books that just stand out above the rest, so here’s a list of drawing books to add to your collection.
Top Drawing Books
The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed
And how sweet is this? You can download the book for free. This is a great book because Speed knows that a formula for drawing needs to have facets, and not just be one thing. He encourages “dithering”: combining solid drawing fundamentals with your own vision. Playing with the lessons you learn so it is always about your creative way of seeing things, not a dry formula. It also cites a ton of historical examples. The art history buff in me loves that!
Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger
I would have killed to take a class with this book at its center. Tons of visuals — photos, illustrations, diagrams — to keep you engaged in a subject matter that can feel more like science than art at times. Plus, the detail the author brings to every single part of the body is inspiring.
The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides
This book really does make the learning of drawing feel natural. Observing and using your senses is at the heart of the tutelage you’ll find here! You can take the approach anywhere, and to any subject.
Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis
This book is definitely historic and its drawings are of a time and place long past, but I had this passed down to me and it is one of the first and oldest books I studied drawing from.
Drawing the Living Figure by Joseph Sheppard
This book takes a tact that is unique. It emphasizes how the position and movement of the limbs, muscles and bones affect the look of the surface of the body. You see the “whole” in a way that makes the body feel whole and not an overwhelming number of parts.
And if you really love drawing and want to put all that enthusiasm into your next artwork, consider drawing a gorgeous portrait alongside John Raynes in Drawing & Painting People, a video download that is available instantly. It is where you can start putting your passion for drawing on paper. Enjoy!