top of page
  • Writer's pictureJenny Lu

7 Essential Books That Every Illustrator Should Have

By Jenny Lu | 5 March 2021

If you are serious about illustration and searching for ways to become the best illustrator, these seven books are the must-read and eventually will change your life!

Do you have a great passion for illustration and don’t know where or how to start? Are you struggling with your drawing and painting skills and really need help to communicate your brilliant ideas?

If your answer is “YES”, then you are in the right place! Today we are going to recommend seven books that will help you to become the top illustrator that you have always wanted to be.

Everyone who is serious about art should check out Famous Artists Course. It’s a course written by 12 well-known illustrators and it was published in 1954. There are 24 lessons collected in 4 giant binders.

What’s inside this book is part of the curriculum taught by famous artists at Famous Artists School which was founded in 1948 by Albert Dorne and Norman Rockwell.

This is not just a book about illustration and commercial illustration, but a book about the principle of pictorial design, composition, and figure drawing. It’s a combination of all the knowledge which has been passed down by the great American illustrators since back in the day.

Image Source: Famous Artists Cartoon Course Lesson 13 Perspective

Famous Artists Cartoon Course is another book you don’t want to miss! It has 18 chapters written by the most successful commercial artists in the 1950s.

There are wonderful homework assignments and exercises at the end of every module. Those fundamental cartoon skills taught in this book are definitely something that every illustrator should learn!

Image Source: Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

Andrew Loomis is best known for his instructional art books published throughout the 20th century. He’s also one of the most important illustrators in the history of American illustration.

Creative Illustration breaks down the process of how to make a successful picture and

really makes you understand why some of the images work, and why some don’t.

There are many helpful tips and tricks in this book for those who aim to become professional-level illustrators. One of the best tricks in this book is called the “Informal Subdivision“.

Image Source: Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth byAndrew Loomis

Figure drawing skill is the foundation of art. Andrew Loomis‘s Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth is a must-read book for everyone who wants to become an artist.

Skill is one of your essential tools to communicate your brilliant ideas. Being able to draw figures from life within a short amount of time is probably one of the most challenging things in the history of art.

In this book, Andrew Loomis explains every aspect of figure drawing clearly and the instruction in the book is easy to follow. You’ll find yourself returning to this book many times and being rewarded for the time you’ve invested in it.

Image Source: Stuffed Garage

Knowing where to find inspiration is an important skill for every artist. Art history books are definitely one of the places to go!

In The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000, The Society of Illustrators, you will learn about 450 modern American illustrators, including masters such as Theodore Geisel, Rockwell Kent, and Maxfield Parrish.

This book also dives into different schools of illustration, styles, trends, artistic innovations, and more. If you want to see the most breathtaking illustrations in the history of art, you should definitely check out this book!

Image Source: Indigo

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines is the bible for every freelance illustrator and designer! Never price your work emotionally. Price it based on the professional and legal guidance which are shown in this book!

The Graphic Artists Guild updates the new edition of this book every once in a while. Make sure you always get the latest digital edition if you’ve already purchased one so that you will have the latest information.

Image Source: The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

Storytelling is a very important aspect of every illustrator. This book has profoundly influenced many creative artists, including songwriters, authors, filmmakers, oil painters and game designers.

Joseph Campbell breaks down the structure of every hero’s adventure stories in mythologies. If you haven’t read this book yet, this is a must-read!


This is our special selection of the seven illustration books that you must read! Hopefully, these books will give you some inspiration for your next projects!

If you enjoy this article, let me know in a comment and subscribe to our blog. You can also check out the author’s illustration website to get more inspiration!


Art's Wonderland Logo
bottom of page