Monday, January 14

Books for Illustrators

OVER THE YEARS I've accumulated quite a few books about illustration. I thought I would list some of the best and the reasons why you may want to acquire them, too.

A book I bought early in my career that helped me a lot with construction of the figure was How to Draw the Marvel Way. It was my touchstone during my years animating The Incredible Hulk (I worked on it in 1982) and The Amazing Spiderman. Get this book if you need more information and inspiration on how to construct the human form. Don't be put off if you are not interested in drawing comics, the construction principles are sound no matter what kind of drawing style you practice  You can get this book used for $4.75 which is a pretty good deal considering the amount of information you get.

Another book if you need more information about human anatomy is Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy. This is a great book if you're looking for a systematic way to render the human form especially the feet and hands (which were always a problem for me). Aesthetically, I'm not a huge fan of Burne Hogarth's more illustrative style in these books but don't let that get in the way of learning from this well thought out book.

Drawing wrinkles on constructed figures was a difficult problem for me in my early days. I once had the opportunity to ask Burne Hogarth how he drew wrinkles when I drove him to the airport during a Dallas-Fort Worth science-fiction fantasy convention. He replied that if you knew the figure well enough wrinkles were a no-brainer. This was not a very satisfying answer and I assumed I didn't know the figure well enough. However, a few years later he published his book Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery. I flatter myself to think I planted the seed that led to this great book. Again, I'm not a huge fan of Burne's style but once you understand his theory on how to render wrinkles you won't have any problems with them again. If you draw from imagination and are struggling with wrinkles this book is a must have. Thank you Burne for your amazing contribution to comics! I do love Burne's Tarzan series. His comics have a fluidity and grace that his more didactic anatomy drawings lacked.

If you are searching for an overview of the basics of illustration there is no better book than James Gurney's Imaginative Realism. Not only is James one of America's great illustrators he knows how to articulate artistic principles in a manner that is easily understood. I used his methods when I was creating the previsualization drawings and maquettes for The Subterranean.

If you find yourself wanting to delve deeper into aspects of form, light, and shadow a great book is James Gurney's sequel Color and Light. One reviewer said this is the book that will teach you what you should have learned in art school. It's filled with fascinating theory and technique you won't find elsewhere. Gurney's keen intellect and roving curiosity have served artists well. If you need a daily dose of Gurney's insights be sure to visit his always fascinating blog Gurney Journey. Use the search feature to ferret out the information you need. Jim has written about almost every artistic subject imaginable.

I will add more to this list as more books come to mind.

Brad Teare 14 January 2013


  1. Hey, Brad, You knew this would come up on Google Alert. Thanks, man. Now I owe you breakfast at the diner. And I agree--that How to Draw the Marvel Way still holds up as a classic.

  2. I will definitely take you up on that! It's been too long since I was in New York. Your books are brilliant and have been a great aid in simplify an incredibly complex process. I hope they can get into the hands of as many artists as possible.


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