I’m not good at drawing but i’m trying my best! My manga illustration teacher once told me that there is no such thing as an “overnight success”. Every artists need to pass a long period of hard working. I’m now on the same page with other unknown artists and i would like to share some of reference books that will help me to reach my goal.
1. Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis
My manga illustration teacher introduced me to this book for basic human figure drawing and i’ve been using it ever since. Although this book is very old (first published in 1943), it is still a great reference book for figure drawing in my opinion.
2. Drawing the Head & Hands by Andrew Loomis
After learnt about the previous book, i did some digging and came across other book written by Andrew Loomis. I really like this one because it is all about drawing the head and hands from adults, old people to babies. Another great reference book!
3. Drawing the Head & Figure by Jack Hamm
I also searched for alternative figure drawing book and found this book by Jack Hamm. I bought a physical copy from Amazon.com for 10 USD and it worths every penny! It offers simple techniques and tips as well as step-by-step procedures.
4. Fashion Design Techniques by Zeshu Takamura
Apart from manga illustration course, i took a class on fashion drawing once. At Bunka Fashion Academy in Thailand, my instructor used this book as main reference. I found that it is a very good book and it includes both male and female figures.
5. Fashion Illustration Techniques: A super Reference Book for Beginners by Zeshu Takamura
This book is the expand version of the previous one. It offers 4 weeks course, an intensive road to master fashion figure drawing. I really like this one but it focuses on female figure only. It would be perfect, if it includes how to draw a male figure.
6. Contemporary Fashion Illustration Techniques by Naoki Watanabe
When i’m lazy and don’t want to go with the whole course work, i often use this book instead of books by Zeshu Takamura. In my opinion, this one is good for quick read and review. If i have to pick only one book, it will definitely be this one!
7. Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style by DK Publishing
This one is the best of its kind that available in the market so far. It is very well printed history of fashion book with lots of pictures. DK Publishing has never let me down. I really love it and would like to recommended it for those who love fashion.
8. How to Draw Manga Volume 33: Costume Encyclopedia Vol. 1, Everyday Fashion by Kimiko Morimoto
This book is specialized in costume drawing in manga style. As part of How to Draw Manga series, it has a lot to do with school uniforms, kimonos, etc. I found it helpful when i’m trying my best to draw cute girls! 🙂
9. How to Draw Animals by Jack Hamm
When i want to draw an animal, i usually use real photos from the internet but this 10 USD book by Jack Hamm is somewhat useful. It offers many techniques but sometime it’s quite hard to follow and it doesn’t includes marine life animals.
10. How to Draw Manga Volume 36: Animals by Hikaru Hayashi
The good thing about this book is the variety of animals which ranges from house pets to wild and marine life animals. Unlike a realistic style in the previous book mentioned here, this one offers simple manga style which is much easier!
Super-Deformed (SD) Drawing
11. How to Draw Manga Volume 18: Super-Deformed Characters Volume 1: Humans by Gen Sato
I think this book is good for learning the basic of how to draw SD characters. It also teaches me how to turn a normal size character into an SD form as well as how to give character to everyday objects like pot and pan!
12. How to Draw Manga Volume 19: Super-Defromed Characters Volume 2: Animals by Gen Sato
As one of my favourite reference books, i always refer to this book first when it comes to animals drawing. The book offers how to draw all kind of cute animals as well as myth creatures like dragon and unicorn.
Colouring: Copic Markers and Watercolours
13. Shojo Wonder Manga Art School by Supittha Bunyapen (Annie)
Ecthelian (on deviantART) or Kumawind is one of the best copic marker artist. Her book offers easy-to-follow instruction on how to draw characters as well as copic markers colouring techniques. A useful reference book indeed!
14. Watercolor Painting: Expert Answers to the Questions Every Artist Asks by George James
As i’m not good at watercolour painting, this book is perfect! It provides step-by-step photos that explain techniques and effects for beginner like me. I like it personally but i’m not recommended this book for any advance watercolour painters.
15. Illustration School: Let’s Draw Cute Animals by Sachiko Umoto
If you love doodling, you will love the Illustration School series. This one is my favourite. With a few simple strokes, i can create a cute animal. I first found out about those books when i was travelling to Japan and now i collect them all!
16. Illustration School: Let’s Draw Plants and Small Creatures by Sachiko Umoto
Plants and flowers are always the hardest part for me. I’ve to admit that i don’t like drawing them so much but this book helps me a lot. I found that starting with simple drawing of an unfamiliar object is much easier and I can add more details later on.
17. Illustration School: Let’s Draw Happy People by Sachiko Umoto
To me, this style of human drawing is in between stickman and full figure drawing. It’s actually harder than it looks! I often use this book to help with my thumbnail sketch, so i get the sense of how the actual work will turn out.
18. Illustration School: Magical Color Selection by Sachiko Umoto
This book is a combination of 3 books previously listed but it includes simple colouring methods. I think it’s good for teaching absolute beginners or kids how to draw and pick the right colours. It’s not really for me but i still like it anyway!
Calligraphy and Typography
19. Calligraphy: Expert Answers to the Questions Every Calligrapher Asks by Maryanne Grebenstein
I like Calligraphy since i was in Junior high school. While attended the tutoring class, i saw some girls from another school learning how to write those artistic letters. This book is all i need and it is also good for my stamps carving.
20. Type Matters! by Jim Williams
I found that most of the typography books are a bit too complicated but not for this one. The book is very easy to read and printed with clear black and red ink. I feel that i learn a lot from it. Highly recommended for basic typographers!
Sources: Book covers are from goodreads.com and amazon.com
I’ve got 20 books in my reference book collection but no matter how many books i’ve read, practicing is still required to be better at anything, not only drawing. I feel that i’m getting better every time i draw, so “Practice makes Perfect” i guess. Here is my latest artwork using Copic Markers which inspired by “The Great Gatsby”. I believe that it is somewhat better than my previous works!