Whether you’re a novice or an accomplished artist, drawing books can help you learn new skills and perfect your technique. There are drawing books for all subjects and interests ranging from fine art, figure drawing, character designs, still lifes, and comic book drawing. If you’re looking for the right drawing book for your current skill level and interests, continue reading; this guide is designed to introduce you to some of the top drawing books on the market and provide you with information to help you choose the best drawing book to add to your home studio.
- BEST OVERALL: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: You Can Draw in 30 Days
- BEST FOR EXERCISES: Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner
- BEST FOR FINE ART: Keys to Drawing
- BEST FOR PORTRAITS: Drawing the Head and Hands, Hardcover
- BEST FOR CHARACTER DESIGN: The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials
- BEST FOR FIGURE DRAWING: How to Draw What You See
- BEST FOR KIDS: All the Things: How to Draw Books for Kids
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drawing Book
Before you purchase a drawing book, take note of the key considerations outlined below. Drawing books are often targeted at individuals with different levels of experience, may feature particular subjects, may engage budding artists with different drawing exercises, and may be written by artists with varying levels of expertise. Determining your priorities before getting too deep into your search can help you select the best drawing book for you.
Your experience level should be one of the first things to consider before selecting a drawing book. If you are new to drawing, look for books geared toward beginners. These books will introduce you to some of the basic concepts and fundamentals needed for drawing a variety of subject types. Building these basic skills will better prepare you to move to more advanced concepts when you’re ready.
If you’re already an experienced artist, you’ll also want to assess the skill level of each book. Read the description for each book you’re considering to assess whether it will allow you to build on your current drawing knowledge and enhance your skillset.
Numerous drawing books on the market cover a wide range of subjects. Determine which subject areas you are most interested in learning more about or perfecting your technique in, and look for drawing books that will help you accomplish those goals. Some of the many subjects covered by drawing books include fine art, portraits, character drawing, comic book drawing, landscapes, still lifes, figure drawing, and wildlife art.
Drawing exercises are an ideal way to get you primed and ready to draw. Just as you would want to warm up before running a race, doing a few drawing exercises before tackling a big art project can help get your creative juices flowing. Many drawing books will feature a variety of exercises that only take a few minutes and can get your hands, eyes, mind, and body ready to draw. Doing a few drawing exercises each day can help keep you in the best artistic shape possible. Drawing exercises can also help you learn new techniques to expand your skills.
Since each drawing book features different exercises, look for information about what is included in each book. Use this information to guide your search to select a drawing book that offers exercises that look like they will be both beneficial and interesting for you.
Finally, consider the experience and expertise of the author. Is the author a famous artist or well-respected in the field to which you aspire? Do you connect with the author’s style? These questions may help you narrow down your search for the right drawing book for your specific needs. Choosing a book from an established authority in a particular subject area can help you gain a deeper understanding of essential drawing principles related to that style.
Our Top Picks
Ready to get drawing? Get the sketchbook, pencils, and colored pencils ready, and keep reading to learn more about the top picks for the best drawing book. These books represent some of the best products on the market to help individuals improve their drawing skills.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards was first published in 1979. In the more than four decades that have followed, this drawing book has continued to be used in art schools and by experienced artists. It has also been revised over the years to keep up with current research and techniques, and this is the fourth edition of the text. Drawing on the Right side of the Brain includes essential exercises and information to help each individual increase their confidence, learn new skills, and enhance their artistic capabilities.
In addition to helping the reader learn about the first steps to take when drawing and different drawing exercises to try, this book also examines the role the right hemisphere of the brain plays with regard to drawing and artistic abilities. In this updated version, Edwards includes some of the latest research on brain plasticity and how to better utilize the right side of the brain to enhance creativity in a society that so highly relies on the left side of the brain.
You Can Draw in 30 days was written by Mark Kistler, an Emmy-winning PBS host. In his book, Kistler sets out to show that any individual can learn to draw regardless of their current skill level, background, or any other perceived barriers. This drawing book encourages individuals to take 20 minutes each day for 30 days to learn new techniques and complete various tutorials to learn to draw in 3-D.
Step-by-step directions to draw numerous items ranging from shapes to trees to faces are included in the text. It also includes a description of Kistler’s “9 Fundamental Laws of Drawing” to help individuals learn how to create the illusion of depth in their drawings.
Beginning artists may want to consider Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner. Claire Watson Garcia, who is a well-known art instructor, wrote this book to help beginners learn the basics of drawing. Garcia uses numerous step-by-step drawing exercises to help each individual gain knowledge and learn specific techniques to create beautiful drawings.
Some of the subjects covered in the book include getting ready to draw, drawing with different mediums, drawing portraits, drawing faces from different points of view, and drawing still lifes. In this recently revised 15th edition, Garcia added additional information including drawing in three dimensions, drawing on the go, and drawing portraits at a three-quarter view.
Those looking to create fine art pieces will likely find that Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawing is a wonderful resource. Dodson shares 55 different keys, or essentials, that allow individuals to draw realistic renderings of any subject. The keys are explained and illustrated in a way that can be useful to anyone from a beginner to a more experienced artist.
This drawing book also includes numerous practice exercises to help individuals refine their skills and technique. Some of the concepts covered by the text include how to focus attention and map out ideas, controlling the hand when drawing, sparking the imagination, and adding depth, texture, and light to drawings.
Drawing the Head and Hands is another timeless classic that is still highly revered by successful artists and art instructors. Andrew Loomis wrote this book in 1956 to create a reference for drawing heads and hands, two of the most challenging body parts to draw. The information contained in it is invaluable for drawing realistic-looking portraits.
In this book, Loomis walks readers through the necessary steps to draw each body part. The helpful guide is broken into five main sections: drawing men’s heads, drawing women’s heads, drawing kids’ and teenagers’ heads, drawing babies’ heads, and drawing hands.
Stephen Silver, a famous artist who has contributed to many animated shows including Kim Possible, The Fairly OddParents, and Danny Phantom, wrote The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials to help individuals learn the basics of character design. Accomplished and aspiring artists can gain new knowledge and skills to improve their confidence and character drawings with this book.
Silver’s book offers numerous tutorials and tips to help each individual learn how to design their own characters. This book is also designed to be entertaining to keep illustrators engaged as they build on their skills.
Since it was first published in 1970, How to Draw What You See by Rudy de Reyna has been a trusted source for artists looking to improve their figure-drawing skills. This drawing book is designed to help artists draw realistic-looking pictures of objects to convey what they truly look like. To accomplish this goal, the book helps individuals learn how to identify an object’s most basic shape. Then, they learn how to use that basic shape, be it a cylinder, sphere, cone, or cube, to draw the object as it actually looks.
This figure-drawing text also includes information about how to draw still lifes, heads, faces, hands, and feet, and how to add light and shadows to drawings.
Those looking to spark a love of art in a child in their life should consider How to Draw All the Things for Kids. While it is specifically designed for children between the ages of 8 and 12, children between the ages of 5 and 7 who are motivated and interested may also be able to follow along with the various concepts and ideas shared in the text. Children can learn how to draw animals, spaceships, castles, fruit, and more with the 42 different projects that are included in this drawing book. Each project includes easy-to-follow steps along with diagrams to help children complete each task independently.
This book features lay-flat binding to help children keep their place in the book while they draw. It is also constructed with heavy-duty pages that are perforated for removal when desired. At 9 inches by 9 inches, each page is also quite large to help children easily view the step-by-step directions.
FAQs About Drawing Books
Choosing the best drawing book is not always an easy decision. If you’re still left with a few questions, read through the FAQs below to see if you find the answers you need.
Q. How can I practice drawing?
The more you draw, the better you will get. Spending time with your drawing pencils and paper will help you improve your skills. In addition to just taking additional time to draw, you may also choose to find a few drawing exercises that can help you work on specific skills.
Q. What are the five basic skills of drawing?
Skilled drawing requires individuals to understand and work with light and shadows, relationships, edges, spaces, and the whole. These are the five different components of a piece of artwork.
Q. What things should a beginning artist draw?
Beginners should try drawing things that are of interest to them, as these can make drawing more engaging and help individuals stick with it. A few subjects that are easier for beginners to draw include food, flowers, trees, leaves, and buildings.