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Books on art worth reading

Like so many other self taught artists drawing enthusiasts I got my start by learning from books. I’ve read a few and have some thoughts on them. Here they are.


Fun with a pencil – Andrew Loomis


Andrew Loomis is possibly the godfather of art and illustration in the modern age. His methods are still widely used today by numerous artists and if you don’t think he’s worth looking up then you’ll never get beyond the fundamentals of art.


Fun with a pencil is just one of many books Loomis published to teach art and drawing. Out of all of them it’s not necessarily the best but it is by far the most accessible for newer artists. The techniques are slowly introduced and built up over time and the exercises end with actual completed pieces that really help reinforce a sense of accomplishment. It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of the book is written from the perspective of one of Loomis’s OCs and the vernacular is that of an old timely New York gentleman. It’s just a fun read and packed with loads of educational material.


Disclaimer: Loomis was around in a time where racial sensitivity wasn’t really a thing so you will see some pretty offensive depiction of people of colour in this book. If that’s something you don’t vibe with then just google the Loomis method and give this book a pass.


TL:DR: Pick up this book if you want to be taught art fundamentals by the progenitor to the modern OC.


The Fundamentals of Drawing – Barrington Barber


This is a more to the point book on art. It tells you what you need to do and then tells you to go do it. There’s a lot of focus on the techniques but not much in how to do them. The layout is really more you look at the application and then you go off and try to replicate it on your own. Not helpful but the limited number of exercises do give you a good starting point.


This book is really for people who know what they have to work on and just want some guidance. Nothing to really make it a must have but it’s certainly worth having if you want a no nonsense book to use if you’re revisiting the basics.


TL:DR: Good for folk who know what their doing and just need a refresher but complete novices should probably look for something a bit easier to jump into alongside this.


Read this if you want to be good at drawing – Selwyn Leamy


This is a great read if you like art. I loved flipping through the pages and skimming the novel. Still pick it up and give it a glance over now after almost a year. The book is filled to the brim with great works of art that offer inspiration and resources. The only drawback is that the actual educational content is lacking. RTIYWTBGAA is essentially a reference book disguising itself as a how to guide. It’s still a great book but it’s title is ultimately deceptive and not really for beginners or people looking to improve. It’s for artists in need of reference or inspiration.


TL:DR: Grab this if you want something to put on your coffee table and use as a conversation piece. Or if you need some help on art study subjects.


You will be able to draw by the end of this book – Jake Spicer


I loved this book. I loved everything about this book. Everything from the design, the hands on attitude it takes with it’s reader and I especially loved drawing and following along with the exercises in book and filling it up with my own work. 


This book takes a great approach to introducing a multitude of techniques in the simplest way, by making you draw. It’s whole ethos is that if you want to learn how to draw you have to actually draw. It’s great. Each couple of pages are dedicated to introducing a new method and throughout the book you are encouraged to practice and use the pages to try out these techniques.


I really liked working through this book and I am sorely tempted to pick up a second copy and see how both completed versions compare. This is an excellent book for anyone who enjoys drawing, it’s just fun. It’s something that just needs you to dive in and get drawing and you’ll learn as you do. It should be required reading for every beginners course.


TL:DR: Great for artists of all skill ranges and a must have.




Just my type – Simon Garfield


A book about fonts. I like it a lot because I have a wee thing for type. It’s a good crash course in the history of the most common type faces and gives valuable insight into how type can affect the tone of everything written from books to blogs.


Know your onions: graphic design – Drew de Soto

This is a strange one. I really like it because it’s layout is spectacular and it’s educational as all hell. Having said that though, it doesn’t really cover much about graphic design other than type and page layouts.


This book is really more about web design than anything else with a lot on information on the more technical aspects of graphic design like colour, print and type. It’s a must have for enthusiasts but really not for the newcomer.






So that’s my list. Have I missed any out that are worth looking into? Do you know someone who might enjoy this post? Feel free to comment your thoughts and share with others.

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