View Full Version : Great Books for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Artists

05-27-2007, 12:44 AM
Below is a listing of books that can be useful in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Both art instruction books, as well as those simply for reference and inspiration, are included. Before investing in any book (unless you have a book obsession), it is a good idea to check and see if the book meets your needs. There will be differences in skill level, subject matter, and method of deliver that may or may not work for you. Visiting a site that posts book reviews would be a great help in decision making.

This thread will remain open, so please feel free to post book suggestions, comments, reviews, etc. in this thread. Everyone has different learning styles, so explanations on WHY a book was helpful or your favorite would greatly enhance the value of this thread. What may work for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another. Also, comments on what you donít like about a book help, too. Just remember to stay on topic! :)


The Structure of Man: Learn to Draw the Human Figure from Your Mind
hosted by Riven Phoenix
(FYI... not a book, but a 5 DVD set)

Anatomy for the Artist
by Sarah Simblet and John Davis

Anatomy for the Artist
by Jeno Barcsay

Dynamic Figure Drawing
by Burne Hogarth

Human Anatomy Made Amazingly Easy
by Christopher Hart

Anatomy for Fantasy Artists: An Illustrator's Guide to Creating Action Figures and Fantastical Forms
by Glenn Fabry, additional text by Ben Cormack

Dragonart Fantasy Characters: How to Draw Fantastic Beings and Incredible Creatures
by J. Peffer

Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures: From the Imagination to the Page
by Finlay Cowan

How to Draw and Paint Fairies: From Finding Inspiration to Capturing Diaphanous Detail, a Step-by-Step Guide to Fairy Art
by Linda Ravenscroft

Enchanting Fairies: How To Paint Charming Fairies and Flowers
By Barbara Lanza

Freaks!: How to Draw Fantastic Fantasy Creatures
by Steve Miller

The Fantasy Illustrator's Technique Book
by Gary A. Lippincott

John Howe Fantasy Art Workshop
by John Howe

Drawing and Painting Fantasy Landscapes and Cityscapes
by Rob Alexander

Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction
by George Bain

DragonArt: How to Draw Fantastic Dragons and Fantasy Creatures
by Jessica Peffer

Hell Beasts: How to Draw Grotesque Fantasy Creatures
by Jim Pavelec

Thunder Lizards!: How to Draw Fantastic Dinosaurs
by Steve Miller

Great Book of Dragon Patterns
by Lora S. Irish

Painting Dragons in Watercolour
by Paul Bryn Davies


The Fantasy Figure Artist's Reference File with CD-ROM
by Peter Evans

Atlas of Foreshortening: The Human Figure in Deep Perspective
by John Cody and Ron Tribell

Arms and Armor: A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources
selected and arranged by Carol Belanger Grafton

Weapons: A Pictorial History
written and illustrated by Edwin Tunis

Dungeons & Dragons© monster manuals
(there are many editions and supplements available)

Magickal Mystical Creatures: Invite Their Powers Into Your Life
by D.J. Conway

07-03-2007, 10:00 PM
Two more books posted! :D

I think I may have to get the landscape book. I saw it at the book store the other day, and it looked kind of interesting. That... and I really have a hard time with backgrounds for fantasy work. :rolleyes:


Lisa M
08-03-2007, 02:41 PM
Some may be interested in books featuring work by the artist Olivia. I have the book "Second Slice," which has images of the female form in numerous styles--some risque, some fantasy, all very well done.

08-03-2007, 09:38 PM
Yes, I've seen one of her books. Wonderful pin-up work. :)

10-29-2007, 04:58 PM
Glad to see a post about books up here. There are some great titles listed too! I confess that I work for the publisher of some of the titles listed, but I have to say they really are good books.:)

Nice to see DragonArt by J. NeonDragon Peffer on this list, it's such a fun and helpful book (there is another great book by the same author as well, DragonArt Fantasy Characters, which goes beyond dragons to elves, goblins and other creatures).

John Howe Fantasy Art Workshop is a gorgeous book filled with insight from a well known illustrator of Tolkien's work.

If you're into really creepy stuff check out Hell Beasts by Jim Pavelec.

If you want some more info check out the IMPACT books partner forum.

11-06-2007, 02:17 PM
I just picked up John Howe's book and the Hell Beasts book, and just did a quick run through on both of them and they look like great books. And I love the books done by Pfeffer as well.

thom futrell
11-14-2007, 09:59 AM
thanks for the info on the books, i'll have to look for them

11-15-2007, 12:23 PM
Hi all,

Speaking of books, check out the IMPACT Books partner forum because we're having a couple of book giveaways this month!



12-06-2007, 08:16 PM
Oh Yeah! Burne Hogarth Dynamic Figure drawing was my very first art instruction book and I love it-I have used it 'till the poor things in several pieces. I have a girl and while I am not much into Manga. I bought her Manga Fantasy Madness, and she actually draws from it! Even I have to admit that it's got some good stuff in it! Shame on me, but I might even tell you where I got it for 4.95,lol. I was surprised to see that info on drawing the head was pretty basic and easy to understand, and the eyes were not enormous. There were tons of examples for the kids starting with the basic stick and building to the complete figure. I do think the stuff on perspective's to advanced for most kids though. Also, did the person posting about Hell's Beast get the book? If so, what did you think about it? That's one of the books I am thinking about getting for christmas. (Merry Christmas, here's Hell's Beast!) :eek: Thanks for the info about Impact-I love thier books and they are having a book give away! bye! more books....more books...more...

12-20-2007, 03:49 PM
Thanks to tarpalsfan for the vote of confidence in Impact Books. I'll keep you posted on new things that are happening (contests, events, etc.) Also check out the Impact partner forum for updates. Right now there's a couple of fun book giveaways going on.



01-04-2008, 11:46 PM
I got a new fantasy artbook today...(whispers) The Fantasy Illustrators Technique Book-It's beautiful and has some neat ideas and techniques that even this book horder hasn't seen before. It has the basics, drawing, painting, ect. of course, but it also has info. on Visualization (you know, getting that idea down on paper before it escapes) and color charts for skin tones! There is alot of good stuff packed into this book! I think that even the non-artist fantasy art lover would enjoy this as it is loaded with great artwork. Don't worry Scott, I ain't a complete traitor! Hm, did I see that Impact has a new PERSPECTIVE book coming out?! Oh boy!:D I just love studying perspective, esp. when it pertains to comic art! ( I know it's wierd-but I really do!):eek: :D

02-18-2008, 08:38 PM
I've been wondering about that technique book... may have to check it out. ;)

I just got a copy of Howe's book, and it's excellent! Insight into his creative process, a few WIPs throughout the book, info on media, and also some handy studio tips (always interested in those!). And the artwork is, of course, absolutely breathtaking. :thumbsup:

I also picked up Drawing and Painting Fantasy Landscapes and Cityscapes by Rob Alexander, and I'm very impressed with it also. Wonderfully inspirational for someone like me who has trouble with backdrops, and it touches on the basics (which I always seem to ignore). :rolleyes: Color, composition, perspective, using references, roughs, light, value, mood, and it has beautiful examples in a variety of media. Nice book.

And lastly, I wanted another dragon book. I have Peffer's, and I love it! Wonderfully inspirational (but what can I say, I can never have enough where dragons are concerned)! But I'm just not impressed with the other dragon art books out there, or at least the ones I've seen. So, I got the next best thing - Thunder Lizards by Steve Miller. I've been a dino freak since I was little, too, and this one is great for ALL ages. Most of the how-to-draw books take you from the basic geometric shapes to a finished dino. This one, however, also pushes the concept of comparative anatomy. While each dino is laid out by shapes, there are skeletal and muscular diagrams for the different groups or body types as well. There's a nice appendix in the back with 13 different skeletons for comparison. A select few of the dinos throughout the book show their skeletons from four different views - frontal, side, dorsal, and ventral (perfect for a dragon in aerial view). Different head, mouth, feet, and body shapes, and an endless array of adornments I can use as inspiration for new dragons! Net to mention Booth has quite a few pieces throughout the book (and that's worth the purchase of the book for me). :D

03-31-2008, 03:00 PM
Hey everyone,

Wanted to let you know about a cool book (and I'm not just saying that because it's one of IMPACT's :) ). If you work in watercolors you should check out Dreamscapes (http://www.amazon.com/Dreamscapes-Creating-Magical-Mermaid-Watercolor/dp/1581809646/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206985579&sr=8-1) by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. It's all about creating faeries, mermaids and angels in watercolor. The book is beautiful. Just check out the author's website www.shadowscapes.com (http://www.shadowscapes.com)


It's thick too. 176 pages full of step-by-steps and fantastic art.

Check out the Impact partner forum as well. I'm doing a book giveaway contest in April for this one!



03-31-2008, 05:29 PM
Yes! I've had my eye on this one! I flipped through it at the bookstore - wonderful, very fluid works. :thumbsup:

07-02-2008, 12:26 PM
The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee. I have always admired Alan Lee's illustrations and this book is full of his drawings. I find them quite incredible. It has also helped me a lot just trying to copy some of them - I learned more from that than from many "how to" books.

02-14-2009, 08:47 PM
For me these are the building blocks in book form


Andrew Loomis Creaive Illustration. This is a MUST.

Anatomy and figure drawing
I like bridgman's life drawing book. Frank Frazetta copied it from cover to cover and recommends other artists do the same to help them learn anatomy without a heavy style imposed (like the Hogarth books)

Jack Hamm- Drawing the head and figure figure ( this is where I'd start with figure drawing)

I also use Dynamic Anatomy and Dynamic figure drawing (heack I haev all hogarth's books) and I find them great to get a more clear understanding of muscles and how they operate below te skin. Invaluable resources in my opinion.

Andrew Loomis- figure drawing for what it's worth and successful drawing contain a tremendous amount of information and insight you'd be hardpressed to find elsewhere. All books are out of print and his family refuses to let them be reprinted to date, but if you look around online you'll find digital copies available for free.

Preston Blair -Animation. Helping you understand animation and how to bring life to your work.


Color Theory made easy by Jim Ames. Uses CMYK color theory.

Understanding color- William Powell

Here are a couple I like:

Frank Frazetta- Icon. Legacy and Testament. Three collections of his work that are currently in print.

Mike Hoffman- Odyessy. A fantastic collection of his work.

John Buscema. If you can find his good work, sketches and such, he's just unbelievable. I love his figure drawing when unfiltered by other artists

Uncle Meat
09-08-2009, 09:19 PM
I wish to add:
1."Mass: The Art of John Harris"
by Harris et al.
2."20th Century Foss"
by Chris Foss
3."Magnetic Storm"
by Roger Dean
by Roger Dean
5."In Search of Forever"
by Rodney Matthews
6."Last Ship Home"
by Rodney Matthews
7. almost anything from Paper Tiger publishing

09-27-2010, 06:52 PM
J. "NeonDragon" Peffer has a new book out- "Dragonart Evolution". She goes into more detail on the scales, ears and such. Another fun read and amazingly effective resource tool.

Jon Grimes
07-09-2011, 11:19 AM
Hi All

Great to see a thread on WC about books. I have been collecting fantasy art book for over 25 years from the likes of Jim Burns, Les Edwards and the TSR team. Impact books have some great fantasy art books.


07-12-2011, 01:33 PM
For inspiration: Anything by Brian Froud. He has a great knack for drawing and painting fantasy that is not cute and cuddly.

Also Coffin:The Art of Vampire Hunter D. Not cheap, but a very different take on fantasy. Yo****aka Amano has a very distinctive style. You can get a taste from the VHD cov

07-12-2011, 01:44 PM
For inspiration: Anything by Brian Froud. He has a great knack for drawing and painting fantasy that is not cute and cuddly.

Also Coffin:The Art of Vampire Hunter D. Not cheap, but a very different take on fantasy. Yoshi()taka Amano has a very distinctive style. You can get a taste from the VHD covers and illustrations. He also has an illustrated Version of the Magic Flute out.

I agree with the plugs for Impact.

The various "Eyewitness" children's books have great photo references on all sorts of subjects. Available in lots of libraries. In fact I find photo books, trave guides, and natural history field guides to be great sources. Lots of strange looking creatures, interesting architectural details, clothing etc scattered about the real world. I did a nice drawing of a lizard-man compositing a Maori warrior and a marine iguana. Very different to the traditional swamp dweller.