11 Best Drawing Books For Beginners That You Must Read

Michael Daly
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Are you looking for some books that can guide you along your artistic journey?

Do you want to be able to complete graphics assignments in the shortest possible time and are you looking to draw in a realistic style?

If that’s the case, then check out this list of the 11 best drawing books for beginners I have come up with. I’ve read all these books, some more than once.

Fun Fact: if you’re a beginner you should actually start with the books listed in the second half of this list.

Why?

The books listed in the first half are advanced drawing books and they are full of high level illustrations. You can use them to liven up your portfolio or submit them to illustration contests. Scroll to the end to learn more.

NameCategoryProduct
Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & DesignBest OverallLight for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design
Perspective Made EasyBudget PickPerspective Made Easy
Force: Dynamic Life DrawingUpgrade PickForce: Dynamic Life Drawing

1. Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design

Our rating: 9 / 10

Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design

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Pros:

  • Cited by many artists as the best book on light
  • Has been organized into sections on color, finishes, drama, natural light and artificial light
  • Has a chapter on digital imaging that also discusses how one should adjust images for print
  • Has a useful summary section of lighting situations
  • A gallery of photographs, paintings and cartoons with explanations
  • Has great cautions on posing
  • Includes a helpful list of resources for further study

Cons:

  • Not much on the science behind light
  • A few out of date photos of equipment and lighting systems
  • Some of the color photos are of such poor quality that reading the captions is frustrating
  • Some of the pictures are so small they are difficult to see

Light for Visual Artists is a great book on light because it covers a wide range of subjects and there is the option of using it as a reference for information on specific lighting situations.

This book is actually a compilation of articles previously published in International Artist magazine. It is very useful for artists, but the book is also great for anyone in any walk of life who is interested in learning more about light.

Each section covers the subject thoroughly and has many anecdotes about the different situations the author has experienced.

2. Force: Dynamic Life Drawing

Our rating: 8 / 10

Force: Dynamic Life Drawing

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Pros:

  • Teaches to see accurately and draw what we see
  • We can see differences in body shapes
  • The facial sections are excellent
  • There’re a lot of sections which teach to draw poses and body types
  • It’s easy to read
  • There a lot of steps to show you how to improve as you go along

Cons:

  • Could use more “how to” pieces
  • Can be difficult to follow
  • Doesn’t offer much variety

If you need a book that can show you how to see and how to draw the body accurately, then this is the book for you.

This book will help you to see three-dimensional things in a dynamic way. The author believes that drawing should be fun and enjoyable, and this is also how he teaches readers to draw. This book is very good for beginners and intermediate artists.

This book has been translated into twelve languages. It is used in classes at universities, colleges, and art schools and was featured in a PBS documentary on how to make creative ideas.

3. How to Draw: drawing and sketching objects and environments from your imagination

Our rating: 7 / 10

How to Draw: drawing and sketching objects and environments from your imagination

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4. Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition

Our rating: 7 / 10

Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition

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Pros:

  • Great for both beginners and seasoned artists
  • Highly informative
  • Big in size
  • Has a lot of tips and tricks for beginners
  • Has a lot of tips and tricks for seasoned artists

Cons:

  • Big in size
  • Expensive
  • Big in size

This is by far the best book on drawing composition and technique. It has a full-color format with lots of photos and diagrams to help you get the most out of every page. The book is intended for both beginners and seasoned artists and takes a unique approach to teaching by using frames and comics. It gives descriptive breakdowns of elements like anatomy, figure drawing, comics, and character development. Truly brilliant.

5. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

Our rating: 7 / 10

Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

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Pros:

  • Step-by-step approach
  • Artists share their techniques
  • Features a wide variety of artists
  • Comprehensive
  • Film and television coverage
  • Pays attention to the human body
  • Covers various media and genres
  • Goes in depth on some of the techniques
  • Clear, easy to follow format
  • Numerous drawings and photos

Cons:

  • Doesn’t get into digital media
  • No color
  • Some text is too small

This book is the best for both beginners and experts alike. Not only does Figure Drawing’s easy-to-follow format and high-quality color pictures provide concepts that beginners can follow, but it also covers more advanced techniques that more experienced artists will enjoy. The explanations are logical and succinct.

The book covers everything from action, animals and cartoon drawings to portraits and human anatomy. The book provides results from various approaches in drawing, and it covers all artistic media.

It’s a common problem to see older techniques beat newer and more modern techniques. However, Figure Drawing’s broad scope and excellent graphics let artists from all over the world offer their different approaches in drawing and painting.

6. Drawing the Head and Hands

Our rating: 7 / 10

Drawing the Head and Hands

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Pros:

  • Excellent tips and tricks of perspective drawing
  • Reinforces certain proportions that are oftentimes neglected by artists.

The author has a specific style of teaching and can be difficult to follow for beginners who are starting out with drawing. However, it is not written poorly in any sense.

This book begins with a very thorough section on the human anatomy, which is very important if you want to be able to replicate realistic bodies. This is followed by a similar section from which you will learn about anatomy created by light and shade. This is very useful for portraits, which are often used as a starting point when studying living beings.

The author dedicates a section to the anatomy of the head, and then to the hands, which are often omitted by beginners. Knowing how to draw realistic hands is particularly important if you are going to draw comics or caricatures.

7. The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition

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This book is perfect for complete beginners who want to get started with figure drawing. With the help of this book, you can learn how to draw the human figure in a classical style.

As you can see from the image, this book is nothing more than an illustrated book with lots of drawings. The drawing style is unique and different from what you normally see. So if you prefer a step-by-step manner of learning figure drawing, this book isn’t for you.

You may have to search a little longer for the information that you want. The drawings are highly detailed, which can make them look intimidating but you don’t have to follow them as such.

8. Figure Drawing

Our rating: 7 / 10

Figure Drawing

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Pros:

  • Written by an artist
  • Very insightful
  • Easy to understand
  • Straightforward and to the point
  • Many techniques
  • Tons of reference photos
  • Concise instructions
  • Universal advice
  • Plenty of drawings
  • One of the best drawing books to have on hand

9. Perspective Made Easy

Our rating: 7 / 10

Perspective Made Easy

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Pros:

  • Good at teaching newbies
  • Great reference book for anybody learning the basics
  • Teaches you about the differences between traditional and contemporary drawing
  • Draws are really fun and inspiring to practice with

Did you know that there are actually different types of perspective? This famous drawing book for beginners discusses all about perspective and teaches you how to get started with perspective drawing.

You’ll learn about one-, two-, and three-point perspective, as well as the other perspectives that you can employ in your artwork.

This book includes many exercises and step by step tips that will ensure you learn everything you need to know about basics of perspective.

10. The Skillful Huntsman: Visual Development of a Grimm Tale at Art Center College of Design

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Skillful Huntsman: Visual Development of a Grimm Tale at Art Center College of Design

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Pros:

  • Beautiful visuals
  • A well-told Grimm tale
  • Well-written
  • Collaboration between designers and writers
  • Contains detailed background research
  • Consummate scholarship

This very unique graphic novel-style book is a must-have for anyone who is familiar with the Grimm Brother's fairy tales. It was first published in France in 2007 and has since been translated into several languages. In this retelling of , the story is told in a graphic novel format, from the first to the last page.

The story is about a young man who wakes up in the middle of the night to find himself in a bizarre world inhabited by monstrous creatures and threatening giants. He happens to come across a castle with traditional fairy tale features where he meets the princess. She is suspicious of him at first, but later they fall in love. He then embarks on a quest to find a magical apple that would allow him to remain with the princess.

11. Designing Creatures and Characters: How to Build an Artist's Portfolio

Our rating: 6 / 10

Designing Creatures and Characters: How to Build an Artist's Portfolio

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Pros:

  • Covers a variety of techniques
  • Broken down into easy to follow chapters
  • Creates both monsters and human characters
  • Easy to use format and instructions
  • Teaches you the basics of illustration
  • Great for artists at all experience levels
  • Can be used as a reference manual

The variety in this book is incredible, as it covers everything from category to weapons to monsters. It introduces you to characters in a different light and allows you to create your own unique personal pieces.

Each chapter is broken down in a way that allows you to follow along with the author. Along with the book, you’re able to download the illustrations mentioned throughout it to tweak and customize to your own tastes.

Conclusion

We recommend this book for adults that want to foster a lifelong interest in drawing. Through the use of fun and engaging lessons, you'll learn everything from how to put perspective in your drawings, to how to draw a variety of stunning creatures. This book will help you build an impressive skill set, no matter what your age, but it's especially suited for adults.

We're confident that you'll read this book cover-to-cover, all the way through to the final chapters where the lessons are revealed. It's written in such a fun and friendly way, and you won't want to put it down. A great read for anyone interested in trying their hand at drawing.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & DesignBest OverallLight for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design
Perspective Made EasyBudget PickPerspective Made Easy
Force: Dynamic Life DrawingUpgrade PickForce: Dynamic Life Drawing