Those who keep up with this blog or know me personally probably know that I am a self-taught artist. I've never taken an art class, but instead learned by reading tons of books, looking for tutorials online and just drawing constantly. Now I get emails a couple of times a week asking what books and tutorials helped me. Sadly, I don't have time to answer these emails most of the time, so instead I've decided to host a new feature here on my blog: Library of a Self-Taught Artist.
I'll try to make this a weekly feature of books and tutorials that I've learned from in the past or new ones that I've discovered.
When I started drawing back in 2003, my work was little more than glorified stick figures with clothes and crazy hair--I wish I could dig up some of my old notebooks filled with these doodles, but alas they seem to have disappeared over the course of the last 7 years. They were pretty awful.
One of the first books that really began to transform my work was one loaned to me by my then-friend-now-fiance Seth, who draws comics. I think that you'll find that the selection of books I'll be sharing with you really don't have much to do with my current style of work, which has been a synthesis of many things. Having always been a voracious reader and lover of books, I would and still will devour any art-related books I come across. And if you're on the journey of the self-taught artist, I recommend that you do the same. Even books/tutorials that don't necessarily relate to my style still help me grow as an artist and explore my technique.
Published in 2001, this book isn't exactly cutting edge any longer but it's still packed with good basic drawing info. Yes, it does focus on drawing comic book type characters, but even if you're not a comic book geek you'll still find this book to be quite useful.
The book covers a lot of info quickly, but it's brimming with tons of sketches and drawings for you to refer to. You'll find sections on drawing the basic human head from different angles, facial expressions, drawing the body, hands & feet and using basic anatomy to create your own unique characters. There are also sections on perspective and page layout, which are quite interesting even if you're artistic goal has nothing to do with drawing comics.
When it comes to learning to draw from books and tutorials, how much you get from them is up to you. As with anything, the effort you put in will correspond to the results you get. Don't expect to just read a few books and magically know how to draw or paint or knit or whatever you do. It takes lots of practice to perfect any craft.
Typically when I'm reading through an art instruction book, I'll go through each lesson drawing the characters or whatever as they are in the book. Then at the end of each lesson, I'll go back and draw them in my Stephanie-style too.
And like I said before, your artistic style will be a synthesis of all the things you've learned, read and loved.