art books, books about painting, books for concept artists, books for illustrators, character design book, color and light, concept artists, dream worlds, lessons concept art, mood in paintings, perspective books, visual development books
I am quite a nerd (the true, unpopular kind) when it comes to learning things. Unless I have read 15 books about it, I don’t feel at peace with myself. So after years of constant searches for THE concept art books, I came to the conclusion it is not about those silly books that teach you how to draw a creature step by step. It is all in learning the basics. I have still not practiced enough that the amount of stuff I learned shows in what I make, but I do feel I am getting closer. So here are some really really good books which also come recommended by much more skilled artists than me.
1. Color and Light, James Gurney – Exactly like someone mentions on the back cover, this is the book I wished I had in art school. This is teaching me how to create a mood and a feeling of realism and makes me truly aware of light and its behavior. I go back to this aaaall the time since I still have tons of paintings to make until i have assimilated everything. He also writes a really useful blog which I recommend with all my heart, where he often touches on the topics in the book.
2. Alla Prima, Richard Schmid – It seems to be insanely expensive on Amazon, but you might be lucky enough to find it in a library. It also cleared a lot of muddy teritorry for me when it comes to mood and color. He may be focusing on traditional painting but, trust me, you still get a lot from it. As a plus, this awesome guy , Shaddy Safadi (worked on Uncharted and Last of Us) recommends it sooo…what more is there to say?
3. The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium, Phil Metzger – While I tend to stay away from any book that pretends to be “The Ultimate blablablah”, I have to admit this did not disappoint at all. It exceeded my expectations, taught me how perspective is so much more than just boring horizon lines and vanishing points. I had almost given up on ever trying to understand perspective until this book. He makes it look so simple.
4. Force: Character Design from Life Drawing, Mike Mattesi – Soooooooo many things clicked into place after years of wandering aimlessly in the land of drawing, in lack of a proper mentor. It completely changed the way I felt about sketching. He just sends his love of drawing to you. This is really good for giving more life to your designs. Especially recommended if you feel your stuff is super stiff, like mine tends to be. As a plus, this guy has been instructing and working with people at Disney, Dreamworks and Electronic Arts.
5. Dream Worlds, Hans Bacher – This has taught me a lot about composition and value. Not to mention it was a treat to learn about the process of designing so many of the amazing disney films like Mulan and Lion King. It teaches a lot about the power of reference and knowing how to process real life into a made up world.
I have a lot more books waiting in line but since I haven’t fully digested them, I wouldn’t wanna jump and recommend yet. I would be very glad to get suggestions from other people by the way. And now…practice 😀