Useful books

6111CQFN9FL._SL500_AA300_The Creative License: This book continually challenges you to start drawing, now, at once… what are you waiting for? Funny, energetic, accessible and inspiring.


51N+CxM-ZgL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_The Elements of Drawing: Written in 1857 but still of interest and well illustrated. Ruskin is highly opinionated, but passionate about ‘direct observation’ and accurate drawing as key life-skills.


41o9FWML8RL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Art and Fear: A well written and direct challenge to the barriers that can prevent you making art, and a clear exploration of the perceived difference between craft and art. Relatively short, but with lots of good, chewy paragraphs to ponder.


61K+jKoGONL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_An Illustrated Life: Be inspired by the work of 50 very different sketchers. As well as being richly illustrated (of course) it has personal statements from the contributors, explaining their motivations, techniques etc.



The Art of Urban Sketching: Like the book above this is a wonderful chance to revel in a huge diversity of styles. Which ones appeal? Why?


51bHuBwCeyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_London, You’re beautiful: Full of sketches that are simple and beautifully effective. A lifetime of drawing and painting helping to make it appear effortless… “Trying to do a ‘perfect’ drawing is truly a forlorn hope: what really matters is to do it.”



Useful, comprehensive, very well illustrated and with commentary from experienced sketchers in a range of styles.


images-1Keys to Drawing: A very clear and effective way to learn the key principles of drawing. Some elements similar to Betty Edwards’ approach.


UnknownDrawing, Seeing and Observation: “Anyone can learn to draw, just as anyone can learn to speak or write. Drawing is a perfectly ordinary way of communicating information.” Written as instruction program, from basics onwards.


Carnet_de_voyageCarnet De Voyage: 220 pages of lively brush-pen sketches recording 3 months as he travels through France and Morocco. Intimate and honest reflections on his floating life.


drawings-albrecht-durer-paperback-cover-artDrawings of Albrecht Durer: Wonderful drawings, paintings, etchings and woodcuts from around 1500. Brilliant use of line, hatching, and some of the earliest water-colour studies. Should go far.


Understanding-Comics_00Understanding Comics: A comic book that explains how comic books, films, and many other graphic arts work. Excellent on symbols, the representation of time in 2D, the use of space, sequential pictures etc.


61PFR202D0L._SL500_AA300_Draw -How to master the art: Based on the old principle that copying the masters will help you to master their art. A visual dictionary of different artists’ approaches to drawing ears, dogs, snow, the ways they used media, composed pictures etc.

9 Responses to Useful books

  1. Susie says:

    Hi, I saw your request for sketching book suggestions. I was going to mention David Gentleman’s books – I see you have one listed above. I haven’t got that one but I have Coast, London and India. I just love his drawings although there is no instruction in his books, I find them very inspiring. I also like Paul Hogarth, Creative Pencil Drawing – it’s an old book and the instruction isn’t very good but his drawings are amazing. I have a huge collection of sketching books (too many) but I enjoying looking at them and getting ideas. I like Danny Gregory’s drawings and some of his ideas but I find he seems to aim his books at people who need a lot of encouragement to sketch and I don’t. Like you, I love to sketch people. I’ve enjoyed looking at your sketches. I love the crowd/group sketches. I too, enjoy the challenge of sketching people on the move. It feels thrilling to me. I guess it’s the equivalent of some high risk sport (for me), you only get one change to capture the movement. Loads of fun and much safer than skydiving.

    • Ed Mostly says:

      Hi Susie, you have excellent taste, and I like your description of ‘high risk’ sketching. No recognition for it yet as an extreme sport, but the thrill is real, and it is much cheaper than the other ones! I appreciate Gentleman and Hogarth as coming from an older tradition as illustrator/graphic designers; both share an eye for composition and a love of loose expressive lines. I’ve only really just started to appreciate Hogarth and I like the way he explains his processes; I’ve got his book on ink drawing, and several of his books following authors, but haven’t got the pencil one… yet. Gentleman explains his process most clearly at the start of his ‘London You’re Beautiful’ book, which is also full of much smaller sketches than appear in his other books; sketches closer in scale to the kind I do. Gregory got me sketching, and his best books since then have been his ‘collection’ ones, much imitated but not bettered, showcasing fine sketchers, their works, attitudes and approaches. Buying sketching books is a compulsion, but there are worse addictions!

  2. Pingback: ‘Things to make and do’ | Mostly drawing

  3. Janet Horowitz says:

    “30 Minute Art Sketching” by Alwyn Crawshaw. Published by, and purchased at, the Smithsonian as a collaborator with HarperCollins–not bad credentials. Short, paperback so easy to transport, and to the point.

  4. Durer’s Hundred Year Old Man was on display at the Morgan Library here in NYC some years back. I spent hours looking at this.

  5. Cathy Prior says:

    I would add to the recommended book list- Drawn from Life by Helen Birch

  6. Robin Coutts says:

    Felix Scheinberger, Dare to Sketch, got me going

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