I’ve been meaning to make this for a while. Here’s a list of the books that have significantly helped me get better at drawing (and are still helping me for that matter), a breakdown of what they offer, and where to buy them!
Anatomy: A Complete Guide for Artists - Joseph Sheppard
This book is a very important base if you want to get really good at drawing humans, especially human bodies in motion. It has detailed illustrations of bone structures, muscles, turnarounds of hands and feet and legs, all taken from medical textbooks and then translated in a easy to digest way for artistic use. SERIOUSLY! If you want to make sure your poses look natural studying anatomy is the way to go, and this book had been one of my most valuable resources.
Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure - Barbara Bradley
This book is an excellent follow up from Sheppard’s. Bradley doesn’t focus too much of the nitty bitty details of anatomy, but instead on the movement in a pose. This book focuses heavily on line of action and weight. Also it gives a very comprehensive rundown on how to draw clothing on many different figures, with many different types of fabric, and a section that focuses on footwear. Bradley also has some pretty good body and racial diversity in her examples.
The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature - Ken Hultgren
This book is all about drawing animals, though I should clarify it’s really mainly about drawing mammals. You won’t find any birds or reptiles in this book, which is a bummer. But! Hultgren gives us many fantastic illustrations and anatomic diagrams of deer, horses, bears, dogs, and cats. This book is still very helpful when it comes to understanding non-human mammalian anatomy and bodily movements. It’s also a pretty good base to work off of for creature design.
Creative Illustration - Andrew Loomis
Close to every single professional artist on this site has probably recommended Andrew Loomis and here I am reccing him too. Creative Illustration is good base to work off of in regards to making big illustrative pieces. Loomis touches on rules of good composition, colour, and perspective, as well as the various effects of different physical media in an illustration.
The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium - Phil Metzger
I personally have a very tenuous relationship with linear perspective but Metzger’s book has helped me immensely. Metzger takes a step by step approach to teaching perspective, slowly easing the reader into more and more complex lessons. With regular practice I feel this is a very good base and reference book to turn back to.
Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation - Joseph Gilland
This book is very very useful when it comes to breaking down special effects for animation that can be applied to comics or illustration. This book has comprehensive instructions on how to draw water, fire, explosions, trees, and tea cups being smashed on the ground in way that captures their movement and energy, so that a static drawing still looks like it has life.
NOW! If you don’t have the money to buy the books listed above there are still some very helpful free resources online.
Posemaniacs - Anatomy
Pixelovely - Life Drawing
Ctrl+Paint - Digital Painting
Bodies in Motion - Dynamic Life Drawing
The Science Collection - Animal Anatomy
The Sartorialist - Street Fashion and Clothed Figures
All of these websites and books have been very helpful for me in my past three years I’ve been drawing but something I cannot stress enough is how important it is to keep up a Consistent Practice Schedule.
Practice as often as you can and feel comfortable to! But don’t just draw the same things over and over again without thought. Explore and try new things! Draw new poses that you originally found difficult! Try out different types of perspective and camera angles. Mix it up with your shading.
Also draw from life as much as you can! Go out for a walk once a week (or whenever you can manage it) and draw trees, animals, people, buildings, cars. If there are life drawing workshops in your area stop in once a month or as often as you feel comfortable and draw the models.
And don’t worry.
Like all other skills drawing is difficult to master, but it can also be a lot of fun. Draw the stuff you love (yes this includes fan art!!), and draw things that challenge you. Although it’s not guaranteed to always work I’m 99% certain that if your keep this in mind while drawing, you’ll have a good time.