8 Great Anatomy Books for Artists

I already shared with y’all my list of 10 must have books for artists. Those are a great set of books to start with, but sometimes you’ll want some books to help hone your skills in a particular area. One of the most troublesome and complicated subjects for artists is anatomy. The human figure is immensely complex and intricate—and the worst thing is that anyone, artist or not, can tell if you draw their nose too big.

  1. Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life

    The great Frank Frazetta attributes much of his figurative prowess to Bridgman. If it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for me. This book is actually a compilation of many different books. If you’d like, you can purchase each book individually, but there are a few. I can’t tell you which one is better, but I can tell you that I’m planning to purchase the books separately now (partly because my copy of the compilation is falling apart).

  2. Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth

    I already talked about this one on my other list, but it deserves to be here too. Oh, and don’t just look at the pretty pictures. Read the text. It’s chock full of good stuff.

  3. Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist

    In my opinion one of the best reference books. Keep this book around when you can’t remember where a particular muscles inserts. Odds are you’ll find yourself referring back to this book time and time again.

  4. Artistic Anatomy

    Definitely one of the classic anatomy texts. Another reference book that you’ll doubtless use till it wears out.

  5. Anatomy Lessons From the Great Masters

    Robert Beverly Hale was one of the best anatomy teachers of the 20th century and—fortunately for us—he wrote a few books on the subject. This book teaches anatomy by examining a number of master drawings. Great book to see how anatomical knowledge can be applied.

  6. An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for the Artist

    Animals have anatomy too! As an artist it’s worth putting some time into learning to draw animals (though it’s a subject I’m sorely lacking in). This is a cheap book and probably the best book on animal anatomy you can find.

  7. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention

    The newest book on this list, Michael Hampton’s figure drawing book is fantastic for anyone looking to construct their own figures from imagination. His constructive techniques are incredibly useful and certainly worth the price of this book.

  8. Anatomy for the Artist

    This big, coffee-table size book has some truly beautiful photography of the human figure. It does an excellent job of showing off human anatomy through transparent overlays. Check it out and gawk at the pretty pictures.

  9. And coming soon…

    A translation of Gottfried Bammes’s classic text on figure drawing is coming out in October. I don’t believe it’s the entire book, but any of it should be great material. Especially for those of us who can’t read German. Furthermore, another of the great Andrew Loomis books is being republished about the same time as Bammes is released: Drawing the Head & Hands.