I’m hoping to have a little time to read over the holiday break. Any recommendations for good books on illustration techniques, biographies on illustrators, history of illustration etc? What have been your favorite or most helpful books?
I recommend "How to Draw" and "How to Render" by Scott Robertson. I own both books and they are basically textbooks of artistic fundamentals. You can learn a LOT from these books from perspective, drawing from observations, color, value, almost everything with these two combined. Scott even assigns homework to practice his lessons. Just beware I wasn't joking about it being textbooks because I got them two years ago and I'm not done reading them. I think these books should be on every artist's shelf, but please remember that's just my opinion and there are plenty of artists who don't own the books.
Alla Prima by a true master Richard Schmid would be my first recommendation my second and third would be color and light or imaginative realism both by James Gurney
Difficult to choose just one or two! I second @rcartwright on James Gurney´s books - both are two of the best books on light and color ever written, particularly the first, „Color and Light“. Also true what @Ben-Migliore says - Robertson
s books are excellent but as entertaining as a math handbook. I still maintain that Andrew Loomis„Creative Illustration“ is one of the most impactful books on illustration technique I have ever read, even if his examples and style are from the 50,s. If you are looking for biographies, etc... I would recommend „A life in Illustration“, which is an anthology of several contemporary illustrators talking about life and craft, and „Words and Pictures“ by Quentin Blake. Or, if you are in for a long haul, „The illusion of life“ by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. This is a mix between a story of Disney and animation and a discussion of animation as a craft and is both very enlightening and very entertaining.
Here's a few off the top of my head that I enjoyed.
Sobering but useful reading about freelance Illustration.
Inside the business of Illustration: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inside-Business-Illustration-Marshall-Arisman/dp/1581153864/ref=sr_1_77?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513938424&sr=1-77&refinements=p_27%3ASteven+Heller
Useful book- lots of things in here apply to being an illustrator as well. Some of it may be a little out of date with regards to technology, but solid advice otherwise.
Know your Onions
Illustrators Bible: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Illustrators-Bible-Rob-Howard/dp/0823025322/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
This one is really interesting because it reveals some really useful tips that apply to traditional art mediums.
The "Drawn to Life" books by Disney animator Walt Stanchfield are pretty good. I have volume one.
I know that this is not at all what you asked for, but I just finished "Art Money and Success" by Maria Brophy and found it very interesting and helpful. It does focus a mostly on the fine art and licensing side of things rather than publishing, so if you are only interested in story art then it may not be the best fit. But if you're interested in learning about other ways to make money from your illustration its a good read :-). Next on my list is "How To Sell Your Art Online" by Cory Huff--I liked what I saw in the sample, we'll see what the rest is like.
Both of those books are $10 for the kindle version, but your library might have them and save you the money.
Don't get me wrong, technique stuff is always great and if thats what you're drawn to right now you should go with that. But figuring out how to be paid deserves some time as well ;-). Personally, I've been thinking more about the business side of things recently, thus my current reading choices.
These are all great recommendations and timely too since right after I posted this, I received a gift card from a friend to Amazon so I’m ready to go shopping!
@demotlj not sure about art techniques books, but I love spending time in a good “Art of”. My daughter has the “Art of Totoro” and it is amazing.