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A r t   I n s t r u c t i o n



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Basic instruction, tonal drawing, animal & figure drawing.


Books on painting techniques and theories.  While primarily intended for oil painting, the ideas in these books are applicable to all media.


Books on anatomy and figure drawing



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An excellent book on perspective.  The only one I recommend as a complete basic text.


Animation & Storytelling
Books on animation, storytelling, cinematography, and storyboarding.




D r a w i n g



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Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
By Betty Edwards

The best book on drawing available. Particularly for the relative beginner. Every single artist should own it. Excellent research on the act of drawing, and equally excellent exercises to really teach the difference between drawing and advanced, sophisticated symbol-making. To be effective you must use it with extreme self-discipline. Start at the beginning, donít look ahead, and follow the instructions to the letter! Buy this book, you wonít regret it.

About $16


Life Drawing in Charcoal
By Douglas Graves

Useful because it is a different approach compared to the other books on this list. That's why it's in with the "Drawing books" rather than the Anatomy books. Donít make this the only book you buy though. It is full of opinion, at least as much as it full of facts. This book deals with tonal figure drawing, almost to the exclusion of everything else. If you are going on to painting classes, realistic painting classes, you should invest in this one to at least familiarize yourself with the thinking. 

About $10


Drawing on the Artist Within
By Betty Edwards.

Her second book, this one deals with the creative process in general, and her thoughts on developing it. Much less concrete than the first one, with some duplication where the topics overlap. A good book, but it deals more with the mind behind the art. Not a technique-driven book, applicable to all creative endeavors including theoretical science, psychology, etc.

About $15


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Drawing the Natural Way
By Kimon Nicolaides

Probably the most influential book on life drawing instruction in print. Lots of instructors "teach " this book. It is very good, good enough that you can go back and read it over a number of years and continue to get something out of it. That having been said, I find it to be one-sided, towards contour drawing and gesture. It slights the anatomy information, and tonal drawing in my opinion. You won't find the tried and true "techniques of the Old Masters" but in itís defense, it canít be beat for gesture and contour instruction. An indispensable text to be exposed to if you really want to draw the figure well.

About $14


Drawing Animals
By Victor G. Ambrus

Victor Ambrus is one of my favorite draftsmen.  His drawing skills are among the best I've ever seen.  His two drawing books (see right) are light on structured information, but loaded with beautiful work.  I get the feeling that he wrote the book by collecting some of his drawings from classes and demonstrations and just dictated some comments about them into a tape recorder.  Not very substantial but very solid commentary, captions really.  Not for the beginner in my opinion, the value of a lot of his comments would probably go unseen, but still a nice book.  With someone of this skill level, I'll just take what I can get.  Really superb work. 

About $25


How to Draw the Human Figure
By Victor G. Ambrus

See description to the left.

About $25


A n a t o m y


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Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist
By Stephen Rogers Peck

A book for the long haul. The most thorough, knowledgeable text on anatomy available. So knowledgeable you wonít see how good it is for seven or eight years. Absolutely packed with anatomical tips and information. This book does not even touch on drawing however. Go somewhere else for info on HOW to draw all this great stuff.

About $17


A Step-By-Step Guide to Drawing the Figure
By John Raynes

Originally I had a book by Mr. Raynes on this list called "Figure Drawing and Anatomy for the Artist".  Apparently that book is now out of print.  I haven't seen this title, but if it is as good as his previous book, I feel comfortable recommending it.

I described his previous book as follows:
A very good, solid anatomy/ life drawing instruction book. Anatomy section is rather dry and clinical, hard to get through. Instruction section is very good in terms of the variety of study methods you can use with a live model. Author is a very good draftsman, but a little on the clinical side for my taste. Well worth the price because of itís study method ideas. A good complement to the other books on this list.

About $25


Drawing the Head and Figure
By Jack Hamm

A goofy book on drawing. Donít let the packaging fool you though, there are some good technical tips on the actual drawing of the figure. Dated, overly dogmatic, and stiff, this book is still useful for someone whoís able to weed out the dubious techniques and stylization from the substantial info. It is in there. Whatever you do, donít show it to your "fine artist" drawing instructor; Heíll have a conniption fit. It is very advertising/commercial in it's approach.

About $10


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Figure Drawing
By Richard  Hatton

A quirky book with some terribly awkward drawings, but nonetheless a good book to have in combination with all the others. Most useful for itís simplified ways to remember and draw the anatomy. Another reprinted early 20th century book. Well worth the cheap price. 

About $10


Master Class in Figure Drawing
By Robert Beverly Hale

The math book approach to figure drawing. The author has an indisputable command of the subject. Excellent examples from old masters illustrate the ideas. There are amusing anecdotes. It never really teaches you though. It tells you all kinds of good information, but doesnít teach you how to make good use of it. 

About $20


Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters
By Robert Beverly Hale

See description to left.

About $20


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Bridgman's Life Drawing
By George Bridgman

I believe this book is a new compilation of all the books listed here.  At $20 or so it may be the one to get over getting all of these individually.

About $20.


The Human Machine
By George Bridgman

George Bridgman was a instructor at the Art Students League in New York around the turn of the century. His reprinted anatomy books are fundamental necessities for anyone who needs or wants to draw the figure well. At the same time though, they are more reference works than anything else. Not "instant" improvement books, but very sound, stable knowledge you want to have available to you when you need itó and you canít beat the price! this book deals with the joints, levers, and mechanical actions of the human figure. 

About $ 7


Constructive Anatomy
By George Bridgman

See left. This book deals with the "artistic" anatomy of the figure. Very sound if not quite thorough enough in terms of different views, etc.

About $ 7



Bridgman's Life Drawing
By George Bridgman

See Above. General information. Concentrates on the masses of the figure.

About $ 7

Heads, Features, and Faces
By George Bridgman

See Above. Self-explanatory. 

About $ 4


The Book of A Hundred Hands
By George Bridgman

See Above. Self-explanatory. Could be less arbitrary in itís selection of drawings.

About $ 7



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The Human Figure
By John Vanderpoel

An old book, with a tendency to tell rather than show, it is nonetheless a valuable addition to someone who is taking draftsmanship seriously. A bit vague in itís approach, a straightforward presentation of facts with little in the way of helpful, practical, suggestions. One gets the feeling that the guy took his classroom drawings and wrote a book around them, rather than do a book, and then do the drawings and diagrams it needs. All that aside, he is a superb draftsman. The examples are inspiring, despite the dull text. For the serious student, whoís devoured the other books on this list.

About $ 7


Figure Drawing for All It's Worth (May be Out of Print)
By Andrew Loomis

A reprint of a nuts and bolts drawing book from the fifties. A little dated, but bodies still look the same. Useful as a book of fundamental "tips". Not really the kind of book that teaches you, more of a sourcebook for tricks of the trade. Useful with the other books on this list, but by itself it is a little hokey. The section on placing the figure correctly in a perspective environment is excellent. 

As the book above may be out of print, (I could not find it on here are two other books by Andrew Loomis that are still in print. I haven't seen them but as his books tend to be very similar, it would be hard to go wrong.

Figures in Action (How to Draw and Paint Series)/#191

Heads/2 (How to Draw and Paint/197)


P a i n t i n g


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Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting
By Richard Schmid

By far, the best book on painting I've seen.  While obviously directed towards the "direct" painter, ala Sargent, Duveneck, Sorolla, etc.  It is simply an outstanding text on the fundamentals of painting.  Do I disagree with parts of it, particularly the color information, sure.  But it's a difference of opinion only.  It is simply an excellent text on the fundamentals of painting.  Very intelligently written, it is full of very practical and sound guidance which serves to de-mystify the painting process.  It is NOT a cheap book, but it's a bargain at this price---most students pay more than this for supplies in a given painting class!

It may be hard to get a hold of, but if you want to learn how to paint this is THE book to get.

If it isn't readily available through conventional channels, try

About $95


Techniques of Oil Painting
By Harold Speed

Old-fashioned but concrete book of basic oil painting techniques. One gets the feeling that 20th century painting would irritate him, but for learning the basics of moving paint to represent objects, this is a surprisingly good text.

About $ 9


Hawthorne On Painting
Collected by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne

A book of the collected student notes from the classes of Charles W. Hawthorne, an early 20th century painter and teacher.  Relatively unknown, Hawthorne was an influential teacher and was himself a student at the turn of the century Art Student's League, and later a student of William Merritt Chase.  His comments illuminate the kind of art instruction students of his era experienced.

This book is a very disjointed read, it IS just a collection of random comments and critiques, and several times I thought to myself that as a student I would not have understood his point.  However, as a teacher, I see he makes dozens of very insightful comments about the nature of painting and how to approach it.  For $4?  Every painting student should buy it.

About $ 4


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Problem Solving for Oil Painters
By Gregg Kreutz

A pretty good book as they go for painting.  Show paintings with various problems and discusses how to fix them.  For an intermediate level painter. 

About $20




P e r s p e c t i v e



Perspective Drawing Handbook
By Joseph D'Amelio

The best book on perspective available. Someday I plan to write a book to teach perspective to artists; until I do I will refer students to this book. Truly excellent text. Every single artist should own it. Buy this book. Mr. D'Amelio is the rare perspective book author who isn't in love with complex, dense, indecipherable drawings. He impresses by how he tries not to.

About $35




A n i m a t i o n   &   S t o r y t e l l i n g


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The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

[From]  "Written by the ultimate Disney insiders, this "bible" of animation has become a legend in itself. This volume seeks to explain the process that makes Disney's animation unique--what sets the work of the Disney studios apart from other animation products. Here are original sketches of best-loved Disney characters, how memorable movie sequences were made, and anecdotes about working with Walt. Full-color throughout."

About $48


The Five C's of Cinematography : Motion Picture Filming Techniques
by Joseph V. Mascelli

A classic text on cinematic storytelling.  Long out of print, (in recent years, copies have been selling for $150 and up from used book stores) the book has just been reprinted and is available from a small publisher in Southern California.  Old fashioned in appearance, and somewhat conservative, it is nonetheless packed with very solid, logical principles of how to tell a visual story through a series of sequential images.  Highly recommended for would-be comic artists and animators who are dealing with storytelling.

About $24


Film Directing Shot by Shot
by Steven D. Katz

Another great text on cinematic storytelling.  More up to date than the above, but just different in approach.  Very helpful to non-film majors (i.e. would-be storyboard artists) in communicating basic principles, terminology, and the standards of the profession.  A really good book.

Highly recommended for would-be comic artists and animators who are dealing with storytelling.

About $25


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The Screenwriter's Workbook
by Syd Field

I found both of these books useful, though there is a lot of redundancy between them.  Field's ideas about structuring the story before trying to write it are somewhat limiting, but the intelligent adaptation of the principles where necessary, does help keep a story on track. 

The other helpful aspect of his technique is it separates the plotting process from the writing process.  While this may be unnecessary for the more experienced writer---for the novice writer, it can be a great help and helps keep the story on track. 

Not the "end all" for storytelling, but not a bad introduction to basic story needs either.

About $8

About $10


Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
by Syd Field

See left.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
by Robert McKee

One of the best books on storytelling I've ever read.  Highly recommended.

About $35

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