My Top Five Art Books

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When you do any kind of art, you sometimes need inspiration. I use reference photos extensively, but I also occasionally need a reminder of what and how other people are drawing. These books are my creative block standbys. When I need a little help I flip open the cover and get an immediate mini-muse.

5. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Techniques

To be totally honest, I haven’t glanced at this one for several years now, but I relied on it so much in my earlier art years I felt it warranted a mention. In many ways this book is of your typical "how-to draw…" fill in the blank monsters/faeries/anime characters genre, but to my eyes, it’s head and shoulders above the hoard. In recent years these annoying how-to books have infested the shelves of bookstores across the country. They convince hapless teens that by following these easy steps they will be the next world famous art Master. The encyclopedia was printed a bit earlier than most of these books (or at least I found it before I started noticing them) and the hints seem to be much more genuine and helpful, and more importantly, more varied in style. This isn’t a step-by-step guide, but rather an illustration of possibility.

What to Ignore: yeah, this thing was published in 1996, so unless you’re reading this blogpost as a print-out, you can probably skip the whole "computer enhancement" section.

4. Design & Composition Secrets of Professional Artists

This isn’t a terribly exciting book, and you won’t find anything here you can’t learn from a semester in a (good) drawing class. Even so, this is a wonderful reminder for any artist who feels their work needs a little freshening. I’ve found inspiration inside these pages for both drawing/watercolor composition and photography technique. It gives a nice glimpse of the different approaches used by various working artists (as much as you can in the page and a half of text dedicated to each) and gives hundreds of examples to remind you of everything you’re doing wrong, wrong, wrong.

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