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Top 5 art instruction books

Hi friends! Jess here :) I thought I'd share some of my favourite resources and inspiration tid bits here. There's a lot of books out there that have helped me shape the way I approach drawing, sometimes it's not really enough to practice drawing but also learn how to see, compose a picture


1. The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

This will be my all time favourite book in that it helped me form my mindset everytime I draw. It's pretty text heavy but the illustrations included are gorgeous! One key thing he talks about is this idea of 'dither' which sets apart a mechanically reproduced drawing from a drawing full of emotion. 

2. Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm

This book is my go-to when I get stuck on something anatomy wise. He has SO many helpful tips to help you remember how to draw certain structures or reminders like which way to draw the crease in a bent leg. He makes the hidden bits of drawing the figure known rather than just push out anatomical drawings and hope for the student to see it for themselves. 

3. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

This was one of the first books I purchased when I was trying to get a grip on drawing. If you haven't heard of it it teaches you how to see things like negative space and proportions with different drawing techniques like contour drawing etc. I think this book is good for those who just want to get a pencil moving on paper. 

4. The Human Figure by Vanderpoel 

My favourite classic anatomy book! It's also a bit text heavy but I remember studying every drawing. "The ear is apt to be neglected by artists ... taking no part in the expression or action of the head. The draftsman however is readily betrayed through his neglect and it is in just such forms as the ear that he shows his skill and knowledge, and the beauty and delicacy as well as strength of its intricate forms are worthy of his most careful attention."

5. Drawing Lessons From the Famous Artists School

This is a relatively new book I purchased but has lessons from artists from the 20th century. Rather than focusing on anatomy it has chapters on capturing emotion, compositon, colour etc ... all the elements that make a good artwork.

As you can tell I like classic art instruction books. I've left out quite a few famous names here like Andrew Loomis and George Bridgeman, whose books I do own but felt their figures were so widely different to what I wanted to achieve I couldn't really relate to their books at all.