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Free Drawing Books Every Artist Should Check Out

Instruction books are a great way to boost your drawing skills to a new level. However, many of the classic drawing books that inspired artists in the past are often overlooked, or lost in a sea of outdated websites that once sung their praises. While many of these books were originally published close to a century ago, the knowledge contained within is timeless. The how to books featured in this list are either public domain or free to access via an online library. Each one has something special to share, and giving them a look helps to keep the creativity of these authors alive.

What to draw and how to draw it by Edwin George Lutz

This early step-by-step drawing book for children—first published in 1913—is by newspaper cartoonist Edwin G Lutz, who also happened to be the one that inspired Walt Disney. Along with this classic book, you’ll also find a masterclass by Lutz entitled “Drawing Made Easy”. This book features the same step-by-step instruction, but adds more written instruction.

Check them out here.

The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

Originally published in 1917, this classic book focuses on the psychology and science of drawing, and is very popular with many art instructors. However, it’s known to be a bit wordy and there is a clear Victorian flavor to the writing. This one is for those that really want to develop the ability to see art as the artist’s intended their works to be seen.

Check it out here.

Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman

Canadian painter and writer, George Bridgman taught figure drawing and anatomy at the Art Students League of New York for 45 years. Most notable among his thousands of students, was Normal Rockwell and legendary cartoonist Will Eisner. Along with Constructive Anatomy, Bridgman’s books on life drawing as well as his excellent book on a hundred reference hands are also available.

Check them out here.

Animated Cartoons by Edwin George Lutz

First published in 1920, this book is widely considered a landmark in the history of animation. Not only does the book focus on the process of creating classical animated cartoons, but shares shortcuts and lessons on anatomy and motion. It’s also worth noting that Walt Disney relied on the teaching of this classic guide.

Check it out here.

Honorable Mentions

These public domain books are also worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of classic art.

The Art of Illustration by Edmund J. Sullivan (1921)

Line: An Art Study by Edmund J. Sullivan (1922)

Costume Design and Illustration by Ethel B. Traphagen (1918)

Sketching and Rendering in Pencil by Arthur Leighton Guptill (1922)

The Essentials of Perspective by Leslie William Miller (1887)

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Art historian, burrito enthusiast, and Email Marketing Specialist here at Redbubble.