Which books to help you learn to draw are best?
Learn-to-draw books all teach amateur artists how to master the basic skills. All of them have lots of beautiful drawings, too. Better instructional books help beginners understand the principles and theories behind how the eyes and hands work together.
The best books for those who want to learn to draw are those that provide you with inspiration, too. A great place to start is the most popular drawing book for beginners around the world: “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.
What to know before you buy a book to help you learn to draw
Most teachers agree that the best way for beginners to learn to draw is with pencils and paper. With pencils and paper, you can start drawing right away, so make sure you have the things you need when your book arrives.
Pencils are versatile and inexpensive tools used to write, draw and sketch. Most sketching is done with regular gray and black lead pencils, but some artists use special colored pencils. You can start with a simple set of graphite pencils with black lead and add colors later on. The easiest way to start drawing is by buying two or three pencils with varying degrees of hardness. Don’t forget a sharpener.
As you look at drawing and sketching pencils, you will quickly see there are nearly two dozen degrees of hardness. The hardest pencils are used to make lines that are very sharp, thin and gray. The softest drawing pencils are used to make broader, blacker lines with more texture. Pencils with medium hardness are the ones with the erasers on the end we use to write with.
The paper you use to draw and sketch on makes a difference. Sketching paper is made for quick, rough drawing and is thin and cheap. Detailed sketches benefit from firm, smooth paper.
What to look for in a quality book to help you learn to draw
How do you want to learn?
Most drawing books for beginners come in hardback, paperback and e-tablet versions. Many teachers recommend beginners start with paperback books because they are inexpensive and you can make notes and sketches in them. Some drawing books are made in a workbook style, where you practice alongside the lessons.
Loose sheets of paper are okay if you are drawing at a table or desk, but for people learning to draw, sketchbooks are the way to go. Sketchbooks may be spiral bound or perforated. Most come in 8 by 11-inch and 9 by 12-inch sizes. Mini-sketchbooks are 3 inches by 5 inches for quick sketching on the go. Look for a sketchbook with a sturdy cover that serves as a flat surface to draw on.
How much you can expect to spend on a book to help you learn to draw
Most paperback drawing books for beginners cost between $10-$20.
Book to help you learn to draw FAQ
Why is “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” so popular?
A. A part of the answer lies in the clever title where drawing is a noun that means the act of producing art with the hand and a verb that means calling upon. The author teaches that our creativity is already inside us and we can tap into that resource by learning to see common things and objects for what they are, not for what we think they are. This drawing book does not spend much time on techniques like many other learn-to-draw books do.
Why should I bother with learning to draw with pen and paper when I can draw on my tablet with a stylus?
A. The best way to begin to learn any subject is to start simply. You already know how to use a pencil and paper, so you can focus your attention and energies on learning to draw. When you learn while using real pencils, you learn about how to apply pressure at different angles for different results. A stylus on glass cannot replicate that feel because a tablet does it all for you with software.
What’s the best book to buy to help you learn to draw?
Top book to help you learn to draw
What you need to know: This is the world’s most widely used book for people who want to learn to draw.
What you’ll love: This drawing book is written around the notion that you can train your brain’s right hemisphere to learn new skills instead of the left-brain focus of most of our learning. This is more than an instructional book. It is a self-guided course in enhancing creativity and artistic confidence.
What you should consider: Artists may prefer the tactile sensations of working with paper pages in a real hardcover or paperback book.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top book to help you learn to draw for the money
What you need to know: This how-to drawing book includes 55 specific keys to improving your drawing.
What you’ll love: You will start by learning how to restate, focus, map and intensify. You will learn how to use your hand with greater control and freedom. This book shows you how to convey the illusion of light, depth and texture. This drawing book also includes 48 mini lessons and 8 self-evaluation checklists to track your progress.
What you should consider: This drawing book is the more traditional style of teaching drawing.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This learn to draw book is by the best-selling artist and YouTube art instructor Mark Crilley.
What you’ll love: This 160-page book shows you how to create professional-quality drawings using only two ordinary pencils. The author says he wants to make the process of creating art to be an affordable one. He takes you from the easiest to the most difficult, with sections on simple objects, still lifes, landscapes, animals, travel sketches and portraits.
What you should consider: This instruction book is available in paperback and Kindle editions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.