In my experience, no one art book on anatomy or perspective or whatever else your struggling to learn will be enough. Bits of one will make sense to you with one explanation and parts of another will be better for other things. You need a shelf full of books, and hopefully each one has something that triggers the light bulb to go off. Here are 5 art instruction books that will help you improve immediately. At least, they helped me.
1. DRAWING THE HEAD AND FIGURE by JACK HAMM
This book was one of the first that really helped me understand the bigger picture of how anatomy works. We get bogged down a lot when looking at anatomy books in the sinews, muscles, skeletons, and details. Those are important. Learn them! But you need to get the overview first. At least I did. This is a clearly written and drawn explanation of those concepts. It’s available on Amazon.
2. 100 TUESDAY TIPS by GRIZ AND NORM
This book is a collection of the free tips (out every Tuesday) that artists Griz & Norm put on Instagram. It’s nice to have a handy copy of them all in one place that you can just grab every so often and look at. Lots of tips on a variety of subjects from story-boarding, to poses, to color. Just be sure to buy it straight from their Etsy shop for $44. Everywhere else it goes for almost $100.
3. FIGURE DRAWING FOR ALL IT’S WORTH by ANDREW LOOMIS
This is a timeless classic. Loomis was a 20th century illustrator who knew his stuff. A bit of this is dated since it was written when everything was done by hand and magazine illustration was an actual career. But the anatomy, perspective, layouts, and drawings in it are top notch. This is the book that taught me to draw figures in perspective. It’s back in print and on Amazon.
4. HOW TO THINK WHEN YOU DRAW by THE ETHERINGTON BROTHERS
Again, a book that is the compiled freebies the Etherington Brothers put out on social media. A wonderfully eclectic collection of thoughts on drawing figures, objects, actions, and more. These are done solely through Kickstarter and I think they’re up to vol. 3 or 4. Snatch them up when/wherever you can! In between Kickstarters, you can always view their tutorials on their website.
5. HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY
The classic guide to drawing dynamic figures and layouts for comic books. John Buscema illustrates this crash course on making your stories interesting and effective. Stan Lee writes with his trademark over the top salesman style. Glorious. A lot of people need to keep this on their desks and reference it often. I’m not naming any names, but I could. Available on Amazon.
Okay, there you go. Those are solid resources. Sometimes people ask me how to use them. Should they copy? Sure if it helps you remember the concepts. But mostly, saturate your mind in them. Pour over them again and again. Let them become so familiar you don’t have to look them up. Then when you go to the drawing table, think.