Anatomy and figure drawing book recommendations.

Anatomy Books


Trying to find a good anatomy or figure drawing book can sometimes be difficult. There seem to be a kajillion of them, and they aren't all created equal. Fortunately, I have been quite the anatomy book collector, and have many good anatomy books in my library.

Here I recommend only books that I have personally owned, and enjoyed. Many of these books were also required reading in the figure drawing or anatomy classes I attended in art school. Which usually means that they are good, instructional books!

I have linked directly to's and's listing of each book. How convenient!

Dynamic Figure Drawing
Dynamic Figure Drawing—by Burne Hogarth | |

This book really revolutionized my figure drawing. Burne Hogarth's dynamic drawing style and fantastic teaching methods will really knock your socks off. He shows you how to "knit together" the figure. He helps you to understand its structure, how the body moves fluidly. My figure drawing dramatically improved after I got his book.

I was also exceedingly fortunate to be able to attend a figure drawing class taught by Mr. Hogarth at Otis in Los Angeles. He was as dynamic in real life as he was in his books. He had the entire class enraptured, and we all improved and learned so much. Even though Mr. Hogarth's style has a "comic book" look (he used to do the Tarzan comics) the principles he teaches apply to all figure drawing styles. A must-have book.

Dynamic AnatomyDynamic Anatomy— by Burne Hogarth | |

An excellent companion to "Dynamic Figure Drawing," this book focuses on anatomy. Another excellent book by the incomparable Burne Hogarth.

 Figure Drawing for All It's Worth by Andrew Loomis

I'm so glad that Andrew Loomis's famed figure drawing book is FINALLY back in print! This is a must, must, MUST have for every artist. His book was written in the 40s (I think) and the drawing style is old-fashioned (but very beautiful, I think). Don't kvetch about the drawing style. If you do, this book is like pearls before swine for you! ;) Loomis is an outstanding artist who sincerely wants to teach and does an excellent job of it. Highly recommended.

Anthony Ryder bookThe Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Traditionby Anthony Ryder | |

This is not strictly an "anatomy" book (no illustrations of bones and muscles) but it is an absolutely stunning book on figure drawing. And it's not one of those "look how good of an artist I am" books, with lots of beautiful pictures, but no real structure or information. (Though the artwork is absolutely gorgeous as well!) This book is packed with fantastic insights on drawingits goal is to inform and educate. Another must-have. This book is being praised by many artists. It is a true gem.

How to draw the Human FigureHow to Draw the Human Figure : An Anatomical Approach—by Louise Gordon | |

This stylish and lovely book was required reading in one of my Life Drawing classes. I can see why. It's an excellent book that explains anatomy, but not in a dry, stuffy way. A beautiful addition to your library.

Atlas of human anatomyAtlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist—by Stephen Rogers Peck | |

This book is full of nuts-and-bolts stuff. Every page has valuable information, and it is shown in a helpful, accessible way. Excellent illustrations and photographs. This was another book that I was required to purchase for an anatomy class. I always have considered it to be a particular favorite.

Human MachineThe Human Machine : The Anatomical Structure and Mechanism of the Human Body— by George Bridgman | |

George Bridgman's books are small, inexpensive, and full of fantastic drawings. He's especially good at showing the structure of the human body. Get one book, get 'em all. They are very helpful little books. (As an aside, Mr. Hogarth told my class that he attended some of Bridgman's art classes himself. Small world!)

Constructive AnatomyConstructive Anatomy—Bridgman | |

Another of Bridgman's books! A great little book. Lovely artwork.

Life DrawingBridgman's Life Drawing | |

Yet another Bridgman drawing book. As always, he does not disappoint.

The Human FigureThe Human Figure: An Anatomy for Artists—by David K. Rubins | |

This was always a favorite in the drawing classes I attended. The drawings are fabulous, the price is low. Nuts-and-bolts information on anatomy. A good choice.

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