13 Best Books on Art

We have compiled a list of the Best Reference Books on Art, which are used by students of top universities, and colleges. This will help you choose the right book depending on if you are a beginner or an expert. Here is the complete list of Art Books with their authors, publishers, and an unbiased review of them as well as links to the Amazon website to directly purchase them. If permissible, you can also download the free PDF books on Art below.

1. Fundamentals of Art and Design

1."Art Fundamentals: Color, Light, Composition, Anatomy, Perspective, and Depth" by 3DTotal Team and Gilles Beloeil
“Art Fundamentals: Color, Light, Composition, Anatomy, Perspective, and Depth” Book Review: The target audience for this book are individuals who have a passion for art. Within the book, the author has elaborated on fundamental topics such as color, light, composition, perspective, depth, anatomy, and portraying emotions. In addition to this, the book delves into more intricate aspects of art such as color relationships, the art of choosing colors that complement one another, and the application of principles such as the Rule of Thirds, Rule of Odds, Golden Triangle, and Divine Proportions. The author also explores the transformative power of storytelling in an image and how even the slightest change in facial expression, such as a raised eyebrow, can alter the mood of a painting from happiness to anger.

2."CMF Design: The Fundamental Principles of Colour, Material and Finish Design" by Liliana Becerra
“CMF Design: The Fundamental Principles of Colour, Material and Finish Design” Book Review: This book is an essential resource for art and design enthusiasts. The book covers an array of topics, from emotional context and perceived value to color affinity and measuring tools. Becerra also provides case studies on sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, making the book a practical guide for professionals in the field. With expert Q&A sessions and insights into surface and finish design, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about CMF design.

3."Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Affects Design" by Aaris Sherin
“Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Affects Design” Book Review: This book is an excellent resource for both art enthusiasts and designers. It covers a wide range of topics, starting with an introduction to color in design. The book dives into the theory and practice of communicating with color, including color palettes and systems. It also explores form and space, with a focus on elements of design, color, and image. The book then delves into the meaning and emotion behind color, including symbolism and cultural significance. Additionally, it covers organizing with color, such as catching a viewer’s attention and using color in infographics and layouts. Finally, the book provides practical advice on working with color, including quick start guides, rules, exceptions, and strategies for working with clients.

4."How To Draw Cartoons and Caricatures" by Mark Linley
“How To Draw Cartoons and Caricatures” Book Review: This book is a fun and accessible guide to cartoon and caricature drawing for both kids and adults. It covers a range of topics, including: creating humor, drawing simple characters, exploring facial expressions, mastering hands and feet, adding depth and dimension, observing the world around you, drawing cartoon children, sketching animals, creating pin-up illustrations, generating fresh ideas, drawing your friends and family, mastering caricature techniques, problem-solving, avoiding common mistakes, experimenting with faces, exploring the outdoors, playing with proportions, going back to school, drawing famous figures, and even making money through your art.

5."Drawing Ideas: A Hand-Drawn Approach for Better Design" by Mark Baskinger and William Bardel
“How To Draw Cartoons and Caricatures” Book Review: This book caters to both kids and adults interested in the art of cartoon and caricature drawing. The book’s contents cover various topics such as how to raise a smile and prompt a laugh, easy techniques for drawing faces, hands, and feet, exploring creativity and different approaches to cartoons. The book also covers drawing children, birds, animals, and pin-up figures. Additionally, it provides insights on drawing caricatures, ways to improve oneself, and tips for monetizing one’s talent. Famous personalities and fictional characters are also included in the book, making it a fun and exciting learning experience.

6."VFX Fundamentals: Visual Special Effects Using Fusion 8.0" by Wallace Jackson
“VFX Fundamentals: Visual Special Effects Using Fusion 8.0” Book Review: The author of this book covers a variety of topics that will be of interest to both art enthusiasts and VFX designers. The book is divided into sections such as “Visual Effects: Set Up Your VFX Content Development Workstation,” “The Foundation of Raster for VFX: Pixels, Color, and Alpha,” “The Foundation of Motion for VFX: Frames and Codecs,” and “The Foundation of Audio for VFX: MIDI, Wave, and Sample.” Other sections cover software such as Blackmagic Design Fusion, as well as pipeline composition, animation, motion control, pixel isolation, automated masking, pixel tracking, 3D production, rendering, modeling, and animation. There are also sections on advanced VFX pipeline effects, physics, and interactive VFX.

2. Fine – Arts Drawing and Painting

1."Landscape Drawing in Pencil (Dover Art Instruction)" by Frank M Rines
“Landscape Drawing in Pencil” Book Review: This guide is a valuable tool for learning the art of pencil drawing with beautiful illustrations and concise language. It covers fundamental topics such as holding the pencil, creating different strokes, shading, perspective, rendering textures, pictorial composition, and drawing from nature. Written by an experienced art teacher, the book is suitable for learners of all levels, whether at home or in a classroom setting. The book contains 36 sketches of various subjects including English castles and American bridges, with detailed close-ups on how to overcome challenges in drawing rocks, roofs, water, and trees. The accompanying text guides artists to develop their own pencil techniques using fundamental principles.

2."The Drawings (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)" by Heinrich Kley
3."The Practice and Science of Drawing (Dover Art Instruction)" by Harold Speed
4."The Practice Science of Drawing (Classic Reprint)" by Harold Speed
“The Practice Science of Drawing” Book Review: This is a classic guide for artists seeking to improve their drawing skills. The book covers a wide range of topics, including the principles of line, mass, light and shade, and composition. Speed emphasizes the importance of practice and observation in the development of an artist’s abilities. Author also explores the relationship between drawing and other art forms such as painting and sculpture. The book’s straightforward writing style and numerous illustrations make it a valuable resource for artists of all levels, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its usefulness.

5."A Treatise on Painting (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)" by Leonardo da Vinci and Leon Battista Alberti
“A Treatise on Painting” Book Review: The book is a collection of writings by Leonardo da Vinci about the techniques of drawing and painting. The book contains precise instructions on drawing the human body, rendering motion, perspective, composition, expressing emotions, creating effects of light and shadow, and using color. Although the writings were not edited by Leonardo himself, they were compiled after his death into one of the world’s most valuable art instruction books. The book features 48 anatomical drawings by Nicholas Poussin and geometrical and architectural designs by Leon Battista Alberti.

6."How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments" by Scott Robertson
“How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments” Book Review: This book, How to Draw, is for anyone who wants to learn how to draw objects and environments from their imagination. Whether you are a beginner, student, or professional artist, this book will teach you the basic perspective drawing skills to create accurate drawings. The book also covers more complex forms and how to generate visual concepts through research and design processes. The best part is that the book comes with a Design Studio Press app, allowing you to scan more than 25 pages and access video tutorials related to that section of the book. Scott Robertson and Thomas Bertling, with a combined 26 years of teaching experience, provide the lessons and techniques to help anyone become a professional artist or designer. This book is essential for anyone who wants to learn how to draw or teach others how to draw.

7."Drawing: Faces & Expressions: Master the art of drawing a range of faces and expressions - step by step (How to Draw & Paint)" by Diane Cardaci
“Drawing: Faces & Expressions: Master the art of drawing a range of faces and expressions – step by step (How to Draw & Paint)” Book Review: This book is a useful resource for people who are interested in art and drawing, whether they are students or professionals. It is specifically designed to help readers improve their skills in drawing faces and expressions. The book provides helpful advice on selecting the right tools and materials, such as pencils, paper, and erasers. It also covers various techniques for drawing and shading, including how to create volume, depth, texture, and realistic renderings. The book includes step-by-step projects and examples for drawing human faces of different ages, including elderly, adult, and child portraits. Moreover, it explains the classical approach to rendering using a graphite pencil.

We have put a lot of effort into researching the best books on Art and came out with a recommended list and their reviews. If any more book needs to be added to this list, please email us. We are working on free pdf downloads for books on Art and will publish the download link here. Fill out this Art books pdf download" request form for download notification.


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Manish Bhojasia, a technology veteran with 20+ years @ Cisco & Wipro, is Founder and CTO at Sanfoundry. He lives in Bangalore, and focuses on development of Linux Kernel, SAN Technologies, Advanced C, Data Structures & Alogrithms. Stay connected with him at LinkedIn.

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