RECOMMENDED READING LIST
We are avid readers and owe a huge amount to the books we have read over the years. The internet is a great resource, but as of yet we have not found replacements for the wealth of knowledge in many of the books we have found over time. This is our recommended reading list of those favorite, loved, irreplaceable books.
This is a living list (like our Top Tools List), and it is constantly updated as we continue to learn.
What do you think? I know we have appreciated lists like this as we have matured as artists and designers.
Recommended Art Books
Figure Drawing Reading
- Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth – Andrew Loomis : The best place to begin for figure drawing, and it continues to deliver useful information even for the seasoned artist.
- Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life – George Bridgman : Excellent figure drawing book which helps to understand simplification of the human form
- Drawing Dynamic Hands – Burne Hogarth : This book is a great overview of hand construction. It provides complex anatomy but also instructs on how too draw hands by understanding the form
General Drawing Reading
- The Practice and Science of Drawing – Harold Speed : One of our all-time favorites that we have read so many times the covers have fallen off. This is great for understanding many of the underlying concepts behind successful drawing.
- Drawing Course – Charles Bargue : A great introduction to atelier and traditional fine art style drawing. This covers drawing basics in a fundamental but sophisticated way. You will have to be somewhat self-guided to use it, but this is a wonderful traditional drawing method.
Creating from Imagination Reading
- Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist – James Gurney : James Gurney offers another all-star book here. He does a stellar job of guiding you through the process of creating realistic artwork from the imagination. This is another book we have read countless times.
- How to Draw: drawing and sketching objects and environments from your imagination – Scott Robertson : Unrivaled book on becoming an expert at drawing. This is a rigorous book but it does an amazing job. It is one I return to frequently. Paired with his other book (How to Render), and James Gurney’s books (Color and Light, and Imaginative Realism) makes for a knockout reading list by itself.
- How to Render: the fundamentals of light, shadow and reflectivity – Scott Robertson : Absolutely wonderful book which builds upon his book How to Draw. This talks about all of the aspects of light on form (shadow, reflected light, etc) and how to apply it believably from your imagination.
Color and Painting Reading
- Oil Painting Techniques and Materials – Harold Speed : Another classic that helps provide an understanding of oil painting that extends beyond simple technical knowledge
- Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter – James Gurney : This is another of our absolute favorite books. It is set up in a way that is very easy to digest, but also very information-dense. This is a must-have.
- Creative Illustration – Andrew Loomis : An incredible resource on the topic of composition, color, and design. This is great for fine artists as well as for illustrators.
- Making and Breaking the Grid – Timothy Samara : Excellent graphic design resource for understanding how to provide design stability and then break the rules in the right ways
Medical/Scientific Illustration Reading and Resources
- The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration – Elaine Hodges : an encyclopedic overview of types of scientific illustration and the most important design principles to follow for effective outcomes. There isn’t a ton of digital info, but the book provides a very solid knowledge base.
- Scientific Illustration: A Guide to Biological, Zoological, and Medical Rendering Techniques, Design, Printing, and Display – Phyllis Wood : Another excellent resource for scientific illustration principles
- Association of Medical Illustrators’ website : this site has a ton of info on the profession for illustrators and scientists/medical professionals. There are a lot of additional educational and business resources for AMI members.
- Guild of Natural Science Illustrator’s website
Recommended Reading on Productivity, Business, & More
Top Medical and Scientific Books
Personally, I find it most useful to have multiple atlases for reference so I don’t rely too heavily on one in case of inaccuracies. These are some of my favorites. -Laura
- Color Atlas of Anatomy – Rohen et al : Wonderful photographic resource for views of real specimens
- Atlas of Human Anatomy – Frank Netter : Excellent and well-illustrated general human anatomy resource
- Anatomy – Clemente
- Atlas of Anatomy – Sobotta
- Human Sectional Anatomy: Pocket atlas of body sections – Dixon et al : Super-helpful resource for learning how the various structures relate in three dimensions. I used sectional anatomy to help construct my anatomy memory palace.
- Rhoton’s Atlas of Head, Neck, and Brain: 2D and 3D Images : Great resource of cranial anatomy. Also check out the Rhoton Collection website.
Other Science Books
- Plant Systematics – Simpson : Great overview of plant relationships, evolution, and classification
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