13-yr-old interested in drawing; what beginner's learning books should I consider?
December 20, 2010 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Nephew has expressed an interest in drawing. What age-appropriate beginner's drawing book might I consider getting him?

He's going on 13, so I suppose he's old enough to understand a book written for an adult, but I'd like it to engage his interest. He's into fantasy and dragons and such. I'm not aware of him being interested in any comics.

Other suggestions are also welcome!
posted by moira to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I learned a lot about drawing from Lee J. Ames at about that age.
posted by interrobang at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2010

I got this for the Eldest Goddaughter, who is also a dragon fan. It's very sound, and talks about things like technique and perspective in a clear and helpful way. There are other volumes in the series, including "How to Draw Warriors" and "How to Draw Elves and Orcs".
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2010

Check out your local art supply store. You may find "how to's" on drawing in a specific genre or with a certain technique. Buying him drawing lessons in a classroom setting might also be cool, as learning the basics provides a foundation portable to any genre or style.
posted by radiocontrolled at 12:27 PM on December 20, 2010

If he is interested in drawing people, when I was his age I found Bridgeman's anatomy books really helpful. One way to learn to draw people is to understand how people are put together. Once he gets the basics, he can be as fantastical as he wants.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 2:09 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

From a very early age, I was enthralled by the images in Jack Hamm's Cartooning the Head and Figure. That book is packed with expressive cartoons, and it has a lot of surprisingly helpful, image-based instruction on tricky areas like proportion, light and shadow, foreshortening, etc.
posted by heatvision at 2:22 PM on December 20, 2010

I think the best way to encourage drawing is drawing supplies. Get him one or two good sized hardbound sketchbooks (not coil binding) and a few decent black ink pens (Uni-Ball Vision Rollerball Pen is good) and let him go to town.
posted by aunt_winnifred at 3:51 PM on December 20, 2010

I found 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' to be extremely helpful when I wasn't much older - at least in terms of quickly showing me my idea of my (lack of) natural ability was wrong. Maybe consider that as well as something more Genre-y so he has a couple of different tracks to take.
posted by Sparx at 3:55 PM on December 20, 2010

nth drawing on the right side of the brain. must-have.
posted by Chris4d at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2010

Loved "The Big Yellow Drawing Book" by Dan O'neill. It's raw, basic cartooning. Can't go wrong for ten bucks.
posted by Marky at 4:14 PM on December 20, 2010

I wouldn't buy him a book on how to draw.

Get him an empty sketch book and buy books that have awesome drawings that he likes. Consider sending him to drawing classes. Take him to museums.
posted by Murray M at 5:03 PM on December 20, 2010

I used to LOVE the Ed Emberley drawing books when I was about that age.
posted by banishedimmortal at 5:06 PM on December 20, 2010

Seconding or thirding or whatever "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." Also Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, but be aware that there are images of people sans-clothes in there (not in particular detail or anything, but it might be something to check with the parents about). I think I got my copy when I was 16 or 17, and it's a great figure-drawing reference.
posted by Alterscape at 8:53 PM on December 20, 2010

Seconding Bridgeman's, along with a nice sketchbook and a set of good pencils. Since he's a fantasy fan, you might also consider getting him some books of art of fantasy cover artists--Frank Frazetta, the Hildebrant Brothers, Michael Whelan. I was a young artist of similar interests and I found looking at fantasy art to be particularly inspiring (FWIW, the How to Draw Dragons book looks a little young to me).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:27 PM on December 20, 2010

James Gurney of Dinotopia fame has an excellent book on creating imaginative worlds called Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist. The Dinotopia books themselves are also full of wonderous art suitable for poring over. There's a whole bunch listed on amazon.

I think some fantastical art books to flip through would be more inspiring than Edward's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, even though it is an excellent instruction book. Edward's book is much more focused on observational exercises, aimed towards people who have already decided that they want to learn how to draw. I think at 13 years old, the mindset is more 'how do I make cool looking things' rather than 'how do I become an artist?' which is more the sort of tack taken in the book.

Also there's a great deal of artbooks out there. If they have a favorite video game or movie or whatnot, chances are there is an artbook out about it.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 4:06 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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