Beginning Art Books

Here Are Some Good Books to Add to Your Library

You Can Draw In 30 Days by Mark Kistler

Mark Kistler is an award winning artist, teacher. He had his own tv show back in the eighties “The Secret City” that taught children and children at heart how to draw.

This book is for people who always wanted to draw but thought that they couldn’t.  It is the book that launched my drawing journey and can help with yours.

I could go on and on about how easy and engaging the lessons are, how many cool drawings you will make, and how much you can learn about art. But I’ll let the book speak for itself. Practice for at least 15 minutes a day and you will be an art master within 30 days or less.

The lessons build on basic drawing concepts that guide the student from beginning to a finished piece.  Even advanced artists can benefit from this book.  He is an excellent teacher who will have anybody drawing quality art in no time. Beginners will have so much fun they won’t even know they are drawing.

Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel to follow along with the live lessons.

Figure Drawing by Steve Houston

Ah, now we are getting serious with our art.

Figure drawing is the ultimate proof that you’ve got what it takes to be a commercial artist or an accomplished one. What better way to show off your skills than to draw a perfectly rendered human figure?

Steve Houston is a true master, who can paint, draw, and teach. He has over 30 years of teaching experience and an impressive client list to match which includes: Caesar’s Palace, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios. A must-have for the beginner or professional artist that wants to draw realistic human figures.

Although, the lessons can be hard for the beginner to follow but if you’ve always wanted to give figure drawing a shot then go ahead and get the book. Don’t get discouraged if you cannot produce quality results. Figure drawing is challenging but doable. Quality art comes with practice.

The main take away from the book is: “Look for the basic shapes and lines of flow in all human figures and you can draw any human form”

Modern Cartooning by Chris Hart

Chris Hart is an experienced animator and cartoonist and has over 100 hundred books covering anime, Magna, cartoons, and fashion.

Drawing cartoons are great for the beginner artist and for anybody interested in Human figure and portrait drawing. Lots of beginners struggle with the placement of features and proportions on the human body. The exercises provide different ways to draw heads, facial features and body parts. After working through the book a beginner will have extensive practice drawing facial features and bodily proportions on any type of body real or cartoon.

I would start with this book before delving into portrait or human figure drawing. Save the human figure and portrait drawing for later. Right now just get a feel for drawing heads, hands, legs, torsos, and facial features.

Drawing and Sketching Portraits by Jacquelyn Descanso

The six short chapters cover an intermediate form of portrait instruction which include the profile, front, and 3/4 views of the head. She teaches the grid system to drawing a face as well as shading techniques.  Overall, it’s not a bad book to start off with if you are serious about drawing portraits. The drawings are not realistic but with time the student will hone the craft.

I am not a big fan of using the grid method but many professional artists use it for their own drawings. The grid method divides up the drawing into squares which helps with proportions and shading. The student concentrates on one square at a time and focuses on the shape and value inside the quadrant.

Pen And Ink Drawing by Alphonso Dunne

A good book that does a deep dive on various shading techniques and mastering pen and ink drawings. He goes into practice and supplies for those who want to expand into other art mediums.

Essential Art Therapy For Managing Depression, Anxiety, And PTSD by Leah Guzman

Leah Guzman is a board-certified art therapist and mixed media contemporary artist. She uses her creative process to connect the mind, body, and soul.

I’ve included this book in the round-up for people who either thinking about getting into therapy or experienced counselors who want to incorporate art in their programs. The book covers a variety of art forms; ceramics, painting, watercolor, and music.

The assignments include:

  • the materials needed,
  • the time it takes to do the project
  • and the skill level required.

Most of the projects are suitable for beginners. The outcome or quality of the art is not important. The exercises are about increasing awareness of one’s behavior, self-esteem, and identifying individual strengths and weaknesses.

Illustration That Works by Greg Houston

So you want to be an illustrator!

This book is for people that want to take their art journey to a more professional/commercial level.

What is illustration anyway? Read the book and found out from a true master of the media.

Greg Huston has worked for a variety of clients in every aspect of the illustration field. Notable clients include Marvel Comics, Agora Financial, and the New Yorker Magzine. The book has many examples of his successful campaigns along with some of his flops.

The assignments are geared to the aspiring graphic illustrator or the experienced artist who wants to explore the world of commercial art. There are plenty of real-life assignments that a typical client would give along with critiques of student work. Greg Houston gives the do’s and don’ts when dealing with clients and completing assignments.  The book is a must-have for those who are considering illustration as a career.

How To Draw What you See  by Rudy De Reyna

Talk about your one-stop-shop for drawing. This book has got it all.

The first lessons cover seeing things in their basic shapes. Then it covers,  shading techniques, shadow, lighting, applying textures, figure drawing, and portrait drawing. Next, the book goes into different mediums to draw and paint with: Acrylics, watercolors, charcoal, ink, and oils.

However, the book does not do a deep dive in any of the topics but it does introduce the beginner to different mediums and techniques that are beginner-friendly. The author states over and over again that once the fundamentals are understood, anybody can draw learn to draw ANYTHING.

So if you are new to art and wonder what to draw this book gives a great oversite into all things art.

Not recommended for the rank beginner. Some of the concepts and lessons can be hard to grasp at first. Such as,  how to draw a rectangle at various heights and distances.  But if you feel up to the challenge and want to develop your skills this book will get you to the intermediate level and beyond.

That’s it for Book Roundup!

Let me know about some of your favorite art books in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “Beginning Art Books”

  1. Thomas,

    Thanks for the recommendations! I think I’ll try the book You Can Draw in 30 Days. I’ll report back to you in 30 days! Wish me luck!



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