SVSLearn Community Book Recommendations Thread

  • Moderator

    This thread is for members of the SVSLearn community to post book recommendations that they think might be useful to everyone else. We all have that specific book we love that has impacted our lives as illustrators, whether you're a professional or student. This is the place to share why you think others would love it, too.

    In order to decrease confusion and maintain some similarity to the structure of the reviews, it would be helpful if each review followed a similar format. If each post uses this all-caps bold title block, they won't get lost in potential ensuing conversations. Simply highlight, copy, paste, and edit out the parts that aren't relevant:

    COPYRIGHT YEAR: (if possible)
    PUBLISHER: (if possible)
    TYPE OF BOOK: (Coaching/Inspirational, General Illustration, Children's, Middle Grade, Young Adult, How-to/Technique/Instructional/Tutorial, Collections/Biographies/Retrospectives)
    LINK TO PURCHASE : (if possible)


    Potential thoughts to include (or not...):

    •What you like about the book
    •How you think it might be helpful to other SVSLearn community members
    •Specific aspects to which you'd like to call attention
    •Why this is an important book for illustrators to read/own
    •Aspects of the book that might be challenging for some reason
    •New/Unique aspects of the book
    •Links to other reviews, supplementary material, or the author or illustrators websites

    Please note: This thread should not be used for announcing or celebrating the publishing of your own books or otherwise promoting your own personal works. Let's put those in other posts all their own so they don't get lost. Those are important achievements we should all share with each other, and they deserve their own threads.

    Likewise, extensive conversations might be best served by breaking them out into separate posts, creating threads of their own that might best facilitate deeper discussion and debate.

    Hopefully this will grow into a nice resource list that others can turn to for potential reading material pertinent to their growth & sustainability as a working Illustrator! Cheers! Can't wait to see what everyone suggests!! 🙂

  • Moderator

    TITLE: Becoming a Successful Illustrator 2nd. Ed.
    AUTHOR: Derek Brazell and Jo Davies
    ILLUSTRATOR: Numerous
    PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
    TYPE OF BOOK: Textbook, General Illustration

    I just purchased this book, and already I'm finding it helpful in framing my understanding of the vast world of professional illustration. Chapters include: 1) Illustration Enterprise, 2) The Professional World of the Illustrator, 3) The Art of Self-Promotion, 4) Getting Your Work Seen, 5) Securing Work, 6) Finance and Running a Business, as well as Activities and an Appendix.

    I've needed to know what all the options were, so I could identify my strengths, hone my interests, and then focus my attention on things that were interesting to me. The first chapter includes very brief rundowns of 14 different professional illustration fields including children's books, advertising, editorial, film, fashion, decorative, and documentary illustration. (The only one they don't really discuss is medical illustration, but that's a different educational process entirely...)

    I sense this is a general, intro-to-illustration "textbook", but I don't think it's specifically made for education. While each chapter has specific spotlights featuring working pros in a variety of different fields, it doesn't lay out learning objectives or vocabulary words like a textbook might. It's almost like it was made specifically for the potential illustrator who isn't going to school.

    There is a link to a companion site with downloadable activity sheets (doing a SWOT analysis, for example) and supplementary images including a couple GIFS and video examples that simply can't be included in a printed book.

    There is a real sense of trying to expose readers to the "business side" of illustration, and they touch on things like contracts, finances, copyright law, taxes, etc. But they don't dive into them deeply--it's a very elevated general look and we all know those topics can get very down to earth and nitty-gritty and need time to flesh out and discuss. But this book is a really great starting place to begin if you know there's simply a lot that you don't even know you don't know. (?)

    Goodreads review.

  • Love this! I listen to a lot of audio books at work and want them to keep my head in the game when I can’t be creating.

  • TITLE: Perspective Made Easy
    AUTHOR: Ernest R. Norling
    COPYRIGHT YEAR: 1939, 1967
    PUBLISHER: Dover Publications Inc
    TYPE OF BOOK: How-to/Technique/Instructional/Tutorial
    LINK TO PURCHASE : Perspective Made Easy on Amazon
    ABOUT THE BOOK: "Whoever can draw bricks can draw a city" Ernest R. Norling. This book takes the reader through all stages of perspective. Work through a series of incremental exercises and simple lessons. It's boss.

  • TITLE: Layout & Background (Walt Disney Animation Archives)
    AUTHOR: Disney Book Group
    TYPE OF BOOK: Art book (inspiration)
    ABOUT THE BOOK: This is an AMAZING collection of background sketches and original art from many different Disney films. The backgrounds are really great reference and inspiration. It shows you examples of really rich environments that are super engaging without being distracting. I like to study and break apart the construction of the animator's scenes so that I can use the same techniques when designing my own backgrounds. While the art in the book was made for animated films i think it completely applies to people doing picture books, comics, or one-off illustrations.

  • Moderator

    TITLE: Picture This: How Pictures Work
    AUTHOR: Molly Bang
    ILLUSTRATOR: Molly Bang
    COPYRIGHT YEAR: Revised version--2016
    PUBLISHER: Chronicle Books
    TYPE OF BOOK: General Illustration, How-to/Technique/Instructional/Tutorial


    This is hands down a great book. It's a classic and a fundamental part of a lot of artist libraries. It uses the story of Little Red Riding Hood told with simply shapes, colors and compositions to discuss why we feel certain things when we see specific pictures and how we can use those principles to compose our own stories and elicit emotional responses.

    I can't recommend this book enough. I sometimes give it away as a gift. My university's Theatre department uses it in their Fundamentals of Theatrical Design class. I urge every narrative artist to read it. It is full of wonderful concepts that can help you make strong choices to empower your storytelling. It seems so simple, but it is elegant in its simplicity, and powerful in its impact. There is an older version, but the newest 2016 update includes some additional small bits of new material by Molly Bang as well as retaining and reprinting all the old content.

  • SVS OG

    @sigross I own this and love it! Such a simple way to learn perspective.