Anybody can learn how to draw. Talent is not required, though it wouldn’t hurt. One only has to practice to become good at drawing. To make a living out of it, on the other hand, is another matter. You probably need a bit of luck and the right connection but that’s beside the point. Let’s get busy learning how to draw first.
One of the best ways to learn how to draw is with a drawing book. Like all other books in the arts instruction category, there are hits and misses and very few in between. We have done the legwork to find you the best drawing books available, mainly for beginners who want to get good at drawing in a hurry. These books are filled with unique techniques and pointers that would be interesting to artists and dilettantes as well.
Learning to draw with drawing books is certainly more economical than taking classes, and arguably more effective. Either way practice is key, and your willingness to pick up a drawing book indicates you’re ready to practice, more so than forcing yourself to go to a class.
Now let’s get to it.
How to Draw What You See
Rudy De Reyna
Rudy de Reyna’s How to Draw What You See is a well-received classic art instructional book.The ability to draw what you see is essential. Only after you can draw what you see you’ll be able to draw what’s in your mind.
In a nutshell the author shows the reader how to recognize the basic shape of an object. Once you identify it as cubic, cylindrical, conic or spherical, you’d use the shape or shapes to draw the object. This works for objects of any complexity.
There are only 178 pages total but the book contains more details than most short novels. Once you’ve learned how to see objects the right way (forms), the book delves into perspective, shading and lighting, values, and composition. There are many useful drawing exercises with which to practice and refine what you learned about forms, shading, and perspective.
So far it’s all about drawing with a pencil. This helps you kick start your ability to draw and then the book changes direction to charcoal and watercolor. We find this useful for a beginner’s book. They are excellent introductions to charcoal drawing and watercolor, either of which a beginner might find himself or herself drawn to for future explorations.Skip the later chapters if all you want to do is pencil drawing.
Draw 50 Animals
Lee J. Ames
Draw 50 Animals by Lee J. Ames is an awesome children’s drawing book. While its target audience is 10 to 13 years old, there’s nothing to prevent a younger or older child, or even an adult, to read this book and try his hands on drawing realistic-looking animals.
Just follow the simple step-by-step instructions to draw all 50 animals with fair realism, complete with scales and feathers and such. If you love horses, get this book and draw them. Learn the concept of shapes within shapes, then draw and put them together to make a horse. Practice and with experience you’ll be able to tweak the horse into a racehorse (if you’re into racehorses), or a Budweiser horse if you’re into Budweiser – see? We said this book was suitable for adults too.
This goes for other animals as well. If you have a pet dog or fish or bird, draw it! Every boy wants to draw a shark and every girl wants to draw a bunny and everybody should know how to draw an elephant.
This book is for total novices and it doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. It barely touches the important topic of shading. There are many other books that one can peruse to get into that. The important thing is to get started and this book is as good as any to get started with.
You Can Draw in 30 Days
The author and drawing host of this book is Mark Kistler of PBS’s The Secret City and Mark Kistler’s Imagination Station fame. While the latter show about 3D drawing won an Emmy award, the older show, The Secret City, is actually way more interesting. Mark was a spaceman who taught the viewers how to draw, like something you’d find in a Kurt Vonnegut story.
This book,You Can Draw in 30 Days, is almost just as cool. First it teaches you in step-by-step instructions how to draw everything from an apple to human faces and body parts. You’ll learn forms and shading and lighting just like that. Then it gets into Mark Kistler’s technique for drawing in 3D which includes what he calls the 9 Fundamental Laws of Drawing for creating the illusion of depth in any drawing.
The promise is that you can learn to draw anything if you’d only set aside 20 minutes a day (your mileage may vary so be prepared to spend more than 20 minutes) for a full month. Anything means what you can see around you and in the media and anything else in your imagination.
Our best drawing book is Mark Kistler’s You Can Draw in 30 Days. True to the title, in just 30 days you will learn enough but not too much to impress everyone you know with your newly acquired drawing skills. You can impress even professional artists since they didn’t know before that you could draw. This best-seller received rave reviews everywhere and fully 92% of those who bought the book rated it 4 or 5 stars on Amazon.
Draw 50 Animals by Lee J. Ames receives our honorable mention as the best drawing book for children and young teenagers. There’s a saying that goes you’re halfway to understanding the world if you could draw the living creatures within it.
If you’re booklover who happens to feel an urge to learn how to draw, check out the classic How to Draw What You Seeby Rudy de Reyna.