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suggestions for illustration books?

Hi everyone,

Last night whilst rummaging through the never ending shelves in Hobby Craft, I came to realise something whilst coming across a book on how to draw illustrations of comic book characters, I had completely come away from what I always wanted to do back at school, an illustrator. For the last year I have put everything into getting my graphic design skills up to scratch, but along the side I have been painting and drawing portraits, landscapes etc and always been unsure as to what path I should be on.

I now know that I want to pursue both graphic design and illustration and I know if I can perfect both then I can combine them and really push the boundaries of my skills.

After seeing the book on drawing comic book illustrations I really want to have a look at buying a few to develop different techniques within illustration. The areas I personally want to target are portraits (sketch and painting), landscapes (watercolour, gouache), fantasy, comic book style (marvel being my personal favorite).

Can anyone suggest any great books for developing techniques within these fields, and also suggestions as to what materials you personally like to use when creating the illustrations (both hand craft and software based)?
Only joking bud.
Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice.

Keep at it. Check out the Society of Illustrators books in you local library (if you're lucky).
Sketch, colour, lighting, vectors, line work, cartoon, perspective. Keep practicing.
thanks for that, looks like an interesting series of books. I think my main inspiration behind getting back onto the illustration track is after competing against Steve Crisp for the artwork of a magazine cover lately, his work is quite simply perfect and I'd love to get to that sort of skill level.

Any other suggestions on books for developing drawing skills etc would be most appreciated :)


Well-Known Member
Google is your friend. You can pick up some really good tips and techniques by studying other artist's work and how they operate. Often you can find good tutorials online too.

Have you ever seen "How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way"? I had that when I was a kid, they still sell it I believe. In fact, it was one of a load of books recommended by Computer Arts in a character design special waaay back in 2006.
thanks Jimlad. Ye I have heard of it, recommended all over the place. I've actually gone for the "Drawing Dynamic Comics" book, I wanted to go for a different style, even though I grew up as a huge fan of Marvel I wanted to follow an alternate style to the obvious and then later have a dabble with Marvel


Well-Known Member
Personally I think the typical Marvel/DC/Commercial comic style has been done to death, though there are some obvious standout artists like Bryan Hitch (well known for his work on The Ultimates and his very cinematic style) and the legendary Alex Ross (who uses live models to achieve his very realistically painted style).

To stand out, you're probably better off developing a more unique visual comic style rather than chasing the american commercial stereotype... unless you can do something really new with it.
Thanks Jim some good advice.

As well as good books what are your tools of choice? I see from your artwork that you seem to be quite into digital art but what about when you're doing hand drawn cartoons, apart from the obvious pencil, I'm not that much of a beginner :S , for example I've heard of the inking process but what type of inks and paper are best?
All inking is done in Photoshop or Illustrator these days. Back in the day Rotary inks where the norm.
I still have a full set. The inking process is just that a sketcher will as you may have guessed sketch out the comic frames. The Inker then applies the line work and the colourer well, colours the whole lot in. There's also the letter who adds the text and 'sound effects'.

These days the whole lot can be done on screen by one or two people.

I love drawing with an old fashioned metal tipped dip pen. You can get great line work but it takes practice. A brush is also great for line work.
Back in the day I worked for a company that produced a lot of Disney licensed products.
All line work HAD to be done with a brush. Nower days they just sent you the digital style guide.

Thanks Typo that's really interesting. I think personally I would love to give the inking a go just because I love the real effect but also make sure I practice with Illustrator as I'll be using that for a lot of my graphic design work anyway, keep with the times


Well-Known Member
As typo says, ink and pens/brushes used to be the norm and can produce some stunning natural results. While those are still great, you can't beat the flexibility of digital tools. More often than not I do linework by hand and tidy it up in Photoshop, although the linework on my current project is straight in Photoshop from the start and it's working quite nicely. A good tablet helps there mind you.

In terms of traditional materials, if you hunt around my gaff you'll find all sorts from inks to pastels to charcoal to oils to watercolours to gouache to basic colour pencils. They're obviously much more tricky to amend on the fly though. Plus, everyone seems to want vectors these days.


Staff member
Here's my favourite Illustration/design book ever, bar none and I wouldn't part with it for a pension.

I've a love for Mambo design back in the 'Dare Jennings' days when they used to have an amazing stable of artists and designers working for them.
This book shows almost everything they did in that era and amongst them my favourite artist Reg Mombassa who designed the cover.

I was lucky enough to bump into Reg on a visit to Sydney and he signed and doodled me a copy.:clap:

Oh yeah Illustration Play is a really nice book
Big Book Of Contemporary Illustration
Illustration NOW!
Streetsketchbook - Tristan Manco
^beautiful book =D
I popped in at the libary last week....to find the where having a old book clear out.
I picked up loads of Judge Dredd, Justice League, Spiderman and many others for 50p a pop.
Class....I was totally loaded down on the way out....although £5.50 lighter.

Great stuff for reference and the like...and a great read too.


Well-Known Member
Typo said:
I popped in at the libary last week....to find the where having a old book clear out.
I picked up loads of Judge Dredd, Justice League, Spiderman and many others for 50p a pop.
Class....I was totally loaded down on the way out....although £5.50 lighter.

Great stuff for reference and the like...and a great read too.
As our mate nick would say: "Nnnnneeeeeerrrrd!"

Nice one tho.