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Being a better Painter


         In the past few months, I have been asked again and again how can one improve painting skills. Each time it took a long time to provide an answer which due to the lack of time was somehow incomplete; hence I decided to submit this journal to present in an ordered format all resources for all who wish to know how to go to the next level.


    The following suggestions and resources worked for me and might not necessarily work for all, but keep in mind that within the time span of two years I managed to bring up my skills from sub zero to being able to paint anything through these resources and completely self thought. So if it worked for me, it could also work for you. The other things that you should keep in mind before going through resources is that: A) here gathered I the best resources there is, but almost noun spoon feed you so you need to do independent research on areas in any of the following resources that you do not understand and practice what they do in the resources. B) Most resources are free, some need to be paid for, but almost for all, if you truly want them you should be able to find ways to have access to them for free. And lastly, DON’T RUSH IT. It will take years if not decades for any artist regardless of their talent to completely understand all the information in these resources. So take your time, enjoy and remember that in this world there are only two types of students: the self thought and the helpless.    




    1.      Artstation


    3.      deviantART



    Communities are very important. Whatever I tell you, you can find in the three websites above but abit scattered, which is why I am writing this journal.


 Deviant art is a fantastic website where you could meet lots of people, be inspired and share. But due to its nature as a website for all, it’s not all that useful for improvement. Websites like or CGTalk is where true treasure lies. Have a look through their forums and look at the stickers in each forum, you will find amazing information scattered on every page you open. Artstation is where you follow people from the industry. You can also follow some of them on Twitter and they will keep you uptodate on new trends.


    DVD/Video tutorials



    1.      Schoolism

    2.      The Gnomon Workshop

    3.      The Joy of Painting

    4.      Ctrl+Paint


    Well believe it or not, I learned Digital Art from The Joy of Painting series by Bob Ross a traditional oil painter. You should definitely have a look at his series which you should be able to find with no problem. Schoolism contains lessons from some of the greatest concept artists alive and though costly, you would be able to have almost one on one lessons with the teachers online. There is nothing to say about The Gnomon Workshop besides that it is the collection of in depth tutorials by the very best artists you could think of, but naturally the DVDs are expensive. And finally Ctrl+Paint is a good way to start off if you have no experience and it takes your hand and walks you around the problems.



    Academic Theory based websites


    1.      Handprint

    2.      The Dimensions of Colour

    You could only thank god enough for these two website. READ THEM, EAT THEM, TEAR THEM APART until there is nothing left in them to understand. A bit high level, and a bit tough and wordy to chew, these two websites could be intimating. But trust me when I say, these two can tell you all there is know about the subjects which they have entries on, and all information on them is very accurate. I suggest you read through them a few times and check the information you receive in other resources with these because even some of the most classic and famous artists and teachers like Andrew Loomis or Betty Edwards have huge mistakes which have been presented in these two.



      1.     James Gurney

   2.      Iain Mccaig


    James Gurney is one of the living experts when it comes to teaching how to use colors. His blog has hundreds of entry on the matter which you should check out. Ian Mccaig is in my opinion the best character designer there is, with classic titles on his belt such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, John Carter and … Well, just check him out from time to time.





    1.      FZDSCHOOL

    2.      Imagine FX

    3.      Noah Bradley

    4.      Sycra

    5.      Tyler Edlin


    Well, there is a lot of channels on Youtube filled with information, some wrong and some correct but all useful never the less. But even among these, FZDSCHOOL of design made by Feng Zhu a world renowned designer, is a true gold mine. Watch all 60 something episodes that are out.


    Online Art Collections



    1.      Art Renewal

    2.      Art Project


    The two things that will probably help you the most in your growth as a painter are real life studies and master studies. If you want to do master studies, A) you need to know who the masters are (have a look at the end of the journal, Old masters section) and B) where to find Scans of the works that are relatively close to the original piece. That’s where these two come in. Collect your favourite art works and study them with most tender love.






    1.      Andrew Loomis - Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth

    2.      Andrew Loomis -  Drawing Head and Hand

    3.      Bridgman – Constructive Anatomy

    4.      Bridgman – The Human Machine

    5.      Burne Hogarth – Drawing Dynamic hands

    6.      Burne Hogarth – Drawing the Human head

    7.      Burne Hogarth – Dynamic Figure Drawing

    8.      Christopher Hart – Drawing Cutting Edge Anatomy

    9.      Eadweard Muybridge - The Human Figure In Motion

    10.  Robert Beverly - Anatomy lessons from the great masters

    11.  Stephen Rogers - Atlas of Human Anatomy for the artist




    Don’t push yourself with anatomy. It comes with time, if you read three or four of these books; you should already have more than enough theory to work with. All that’s left is to truly understand them and that takes a while. 





    1.      Gwen White – Perspective: A Guide for Artists. Architects and Designers

    2.      Joseph D’Amelio – Perspective Drawing Handbook



    Joseph D Amelio has the best Perspective guide there is out there, perhaps except for the Hand Print website. I suggest, especially with perspective, to not read any other tutorials or books until you can tell wrong from right, because some are complete nonsense. It’s truly surprising how many school instructors or famous teachers have NO CLUE how our eyes see the world around us.



    Color Theorem


    1.      James Gurney – Color and Light

    2.      Betty Edwards – A Color Course in Mastering The Art of Mixing Colors

    3.      Munsell – Munsell Book of Color



    James Gurney is a must read. Betty Edwards has some interesting information but also LOTS of wrong ones which is embarrassing for such famous of an instructor. Munsell Book of Color, is the Bible, and I am not even joking. Most of the current color spaces such Adobe ones, LAB and … have been based upon it. It is as close as you would ever get to understanding color as a painter.





    1.      Molly Bang – Picture this



    You would be surprise how this little slide show can change your understanding of picture making. You can find this free everywhere with no problem.





     Betty Edwards – The New Drawing on the Right side of the Brain

    Andrew Loomis - Creative Illustration

    Andrew Loomis – Successful Drawing

    Andrew Loomis – The Eye Of The Painter



    On the right side of the brain is a very good read for those who want to start off as artists. And Andrew Loomis’s collection is a must read that I think might even be available online as PDFs since it went out of publications a while back.



    Digital Arts


    1.      Imagine FX magazines

    2.      Digital Masters magazine



    Both have some useless and useful stuff but worth reading nevertheless and most definitely good for inspiring and keeping in touch with the online world.







    Well, read through them all. I will try to update this entry as regularly as I can, whenever I find a new source. You could also suggest sources I have forgotten to add to the collection. If you have 10 hours to spend I suggest to spend it browsing through Conceptart forum and then go through the other sources. And finally I hope that helps and contact me with whatever I could help with.



Artists to visit Online





Old Masters to look for


William Bouguereau ; Jean Leon Gerome ; Joseph Mallord William Turner ; Jeffrey T. Larson ; Rembrandt ; Norman Rockwell ; Paul Delaroche ; Steve Hanks ; William McGregor Paxton ; Thomas Cole ; Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema ; Thomas Moran ; Peder Mork Mønsted ; Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida ; John Everett Millais ; Juliette Aristides ; Maxfield Parrish ; Leon-Augustin L'hermitte ; Pierre-Auguste Cot ; John Singer Sargent ; Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat ; JohannesVermeer ; Edmund Blair Leighton ; Claude Monet ; John White Alexander ; Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore ; Fantin-Latour ; John William Godward ; Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovsky ; Jacques Louis David ; Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres ; Jean Béraud ; Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy ; Daniel F. Gerhartz ; Horace Vernet ; Herbert James Draper ; Frederic Edwin Church ; Albert Bierstadt ; Frederick Arthur Bridgman ; Giovanni Boldini ; Guillaume Seignac ; Gustave Caillebotte ; Gustave Courbet ; Edward John Poynter ; Edward Hopper ; George Inness ; Eugene de Blaas ; Caspar David Friedrich ; Alphonse Maria Mucha ; Anders Zorn ; Alexandre Cabanel



 Edit: Another journal I found on deviantart with some useful information  


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Lulie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Dude, this is an awesome list. I love how you give Handprint and The Dimensions of Colour the attention they deserve, and how you mention the flaws in teachers like Betty Edwards and Loomis. I like especially how you give the resources that are best, not the ones that are least-hard.

All in all, extremely close to the list I would have given. I would make some changes, though, so I'm curious what you'd say to them:

Christopher Hart: Really? I thought that book looked pretty mediocre, both in art and explanation. What do you like about his anatomy book? (I guess it has some comic-style body variations going for it..?)

I'm surprised Michael Hampton's book isn't mentioned anywhere here! It's fantastic, super awesome, better than Loomis for a lot of things (such as anatomy). Seriously, you should take a look at it. I think I'd recommend it above every one of the resources here. 

I'm also not crazy about Hogarth's anatomy books. I'm curious what people see in them.

The best anatomy reference book is most likely the recent Anatomy For Sculptors book.

And one of the more fun anatomy books is Anatomy for Artists by Anthony Apesos, where you learn about muscles by poking yourself and finding them in your own body. Not enough on its own, but great supplement to internalise, memorise and understand muscles.

Regarding perspective: Perspective! For Comic Book Artists is a very nice and accessible intro, without dumbing down the theory. Perspective Made Easy by Norling breaks it down in a very simple way, with exercises at the end of each chapter to check yourself.

Scha, in what way are some perspective books nonsense? What kind of misinformation do they teach? (I wasn't aware the 'teaching nonsense' phenomenon happens in perspective as well as colour&light!) *very curious*

Another book to add to the colour theory stuff (if you're going to include Edwards' book): Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green. It's no David Briggs or Bruce MacEvoy, but it's got some useful rules of thumb.
IRCSS Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks man, I will read through the ones you have mentioned and I will edit the journals, the books you mentioned are really good. 
I actually feel the same about Hart and Hogarth, I mentioned Hart because a lot of comic arits are crazy about it and I also find Hogarth's anatomy to be a bit hardcor, and dryed out, I geuss I just mentioned them because a lot of people said they learnt alot from it. 
well kind of like color theory  it's not just about what they say, but also about what they dont say. The theory in these books is from a few hunderd years back :D and they totaly ignore the actual compelexity of the human vision or even a camera lense. Although they also have a lot of things that are wrong, for example lines heading in the wrong directions or wrong statments, my problem with these books and the perspectiv teachers in the schools is the knowledge that they dont have. Let me give you an example, around three years ago I started teaching my self how to paint, since I never had a teacher, I was really stuck in understanding some stuff that right know is considered basic knowledge. So I went to the art teacher in our school and asked her to explain to me how perspectiv works. She picked up a paper and drew the three 1 2 and 3 perspectiv senario. she said, all lines in our vision end in one of these three point except the curves. I thought good now I know perspectiv then, then I thought what about objects that are not parrallel and stand with an angel with respect to one another, so I went back the next day and I asked her that, she looked abit confused and said no, all lines diverge in these 3 points. I struggled for a long time to realise that they have their own diverging point and then realise that in the 30 something years that she has been teaching art she has never asked herself what happens to objects that are out of perspectiv. 
you see the topic goes really deep, human vision is emotion and thoughts depended since 2 thirds of what we see is at anycase a recall of information from our long term memory and only 1/3 new information, and further more there is lens distortion and ... so even two parrale objects dont necessarly diverge in the same point.
If you read a normal perspectiv book or vist a website or ask a normal teacher, you will see how to do 1 2 and 3 point perspectiv and coppy the same object in space and that was all. When your teacher is good he will tell you that there are more than 3 points on the horaizen line but doesnt tell you that the point of divargence doesnt even need to be on the horiazen line. Doesnt tell you about fish eye lense and the relation ship of focal lenght of the lense and the distance between points, doesnt tell you about the properties of symmetry in space or how to project a vertical object in a horizantal or a plane with a different angel. These are really useful things but there are so few books with all these informations that are systematicly listed. 
ihartsnape Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Student General Artist
Wow, you've listed a TON of great resources! Thanks!
IRCSS Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Np. drop by from time to time, I will try to update when a new source comes up.
ArkillianDragon Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Copy paste comment forwarded on to this journal by request of IRCSS :)

IRCSS meantions some great youtubers there- I thought I'd meantion also Proko has great life drawing styled learning techniques, and I quite like Mark Crilley for a manga styled artist approach. It's hard to learn in an art style you don't like, so I like to offer him also incase you're an anime influenced artist :) (Smile)

I'm not a fan personally of Hogarth's books cause he over renders a lot (this doesn't make his stuff bad- I just don't like learning from it), but Andrew Loomis has some great methods. Also look up "Drawing the head and figure" by Jack Hamm- I see a lot of tutorials on line based on his books. I learnt to draw from his book :) (Smile) It's a bit old school, but the methods are solid 

James Gurney – Color and Light- This book I found WAY too advanced for me when I first started studying from it. It's an advanced colour book. I'd make sure that you're secure with colour and lighting before going to this cause it's a fundamentals book, and is heavy reading if you dont' know what you're in for. Gurney KNOWS HIS STUFF though :) (Smile)

Betty Edwards – The New Drawing on the Right side of the Brain- this is a great book if you're finding drawing difficult cause you might not be thinking creatively when you draw. This book exercises your creative mind into seeing things like an artist. SUPER important. 

So yeah- I thought I'd expand on their post there a little cause it was helpful :) (Smile)


Extra stuff not part of original comment to note- Mark Crilley's videos are videos I offer people with a more "big eyes small mouth" type artists- his style teaches to draw the way he draws and only in one or two poses, but it's REALLY hard to find good solid tutorials in a more Japanese art style (specially ones done by American artists), and most artists end up copying others because of it. Mark Crilley takes his lessons a few steps further however, and has a very approachable manner of teaching. I've never once felt as if I'd feel bad if I was new at drawing while listening to his videos ever. IT's all building blocks stuff, and I feel that it's very important to enjoy learning even if it's not the not the most efficient method of learning to start with. Some people are too intimidated by realism drawing techniques, and that should never stop you from trying something :)
Lulie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I second Jack Hamm, and Proko!

Haha, James Gurney was like a walk in the park after dissecting The Dimensions of Colour. ;) (Tip: Take notes, explain stuff to yourself in your own words.)

Betty Edwards' book is bad for creativity, but good for learning how to copy what you see (and actually see what's there). It won't teach you how to draw from imagination, but it will help with accuracy.
IRCSS Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you :hug:
DanielaIvanova Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014
Awesome collection! Thank you for the hard work you've done in order to bring this neat list to us! :love:
IRCSS Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My out most pleasure :hug: don't thank me, introduce the books and resources and do the same for the next person who is in need and wants to improve ^^ 
DanielaIvanova Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014
Will do! :nod:
SunShiny-Sunflower Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Student Filmographer
That's....  a lot of information... O_O
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I do realize it could be abit too much but trust me I trimmed down alot until it turned to this. I do hope it could be of some use though. 
SunShiny-Sunflower Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Student Filmographer
A bit too much? :D That's like more than I've ever read in my entire life! :D
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hum, more reading is required :D I dont keep count of the books I have read but it should be around 4000 or something by now. Very disappointing actually, since I need to do more reading if I truly wish to understand certain things but similar to all others painting is not a skill that just comes :D It need hard work in it and thats more than just practical training and artistic intuition. And you dont need to read all to be a great painter. Most of of, people already know , and they just need to be reminded of. And for parts they dont know, only a few master painter in history mastered every area of picture making and presentation since its not possible for certain people to do it in a life time. Specially now with all the intense info out there most people tend to pick one aspect of art such as color or composition and master that and ignore the rest.

Please tell me that it could help you a little bit ? :D just to make an old soul happy :D  
SunShiny-Sunflower Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014  Student Filmographer
Um... I don't know, I don't believe that one can learn to be a better painter through reading... Maybe it'd help with the anatomy or with the color theory but then again if you paint then you observe how the colors react to one another, etc. :D Personally, my art teacher to yell at me for hour and a half a day is enough to improve a great deal. :D
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, I will partially disagree with you there. Though reading and theory alone can not improve painting skills, but together with practice it can make a massive difference. And I am talking about being a better a painter not being a better artists since they are two different things. 
You probably have heard of the notation "Standing on the shoulder of the giants", it is true that by experience and observing you could come to an understanding of whatever theory you read about (though even that is arguable since to understand certain aspect of perception a good grasp of psychology, biology and physics is required), it would take you significantly longer than simply spending hours to fulfill what would otherwise take years. 

And besides, though I am completely ignorant about the skills of your teacher, there is a lot of basic knowledge that he or she lacks or holds an incorrect form of which could mislead you unless you inquire further yourself. 

And all the above argument aside perspective is pure math and observation alone it can not be learnt, if not then why do all artists up to its development by mathematician struggled with the subject? Even ones as great as the old Masters?
SunShiny-Sunflower Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014  Student Filmographer
I suppose it's personal preference. I've never in my life read any theory about art and I can paint anything within few hours by just looking at it well enough. I never understood the need for such guidance as you speak of. What helps me to improve is to look at other people painting and the only tutorials I've watched are how to work with a certain media.

The old Masters as you call them also believed that the Earth is a sphere, that doesn't mean that they were right, or am I wrong?

Again, I suppose how a person learns better, but surprisingly for you not all need to read tonnes in order to improve.
Lulie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
But what if you want to draw things you can't look at? That's where books and theory come in most useful.

Also, if you want to become a modern master -- a top-tier artist -- understanding the theory is a must. Just like one can't make progress in physics by watching objects fall, so too one can't make progress in art by just observing.

The eyes and the brain fool us, constantly, and if you believed what you saw you couldn't paint it accurately. Optical illusion artefacts would creep in. (This is especially notable with colour, where the brain has various biases, such as colour constancy, which artists need to overcome to paint accurately.)
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Actually that doesn't come as a surprise at all. I am perfectly fine by the fact that people have different method of learning things. The point that I raised was due to what you said before " I don't believe that one can learn to be a better painter through reading." which was me trying to tell you what you are now telling me, that different people have different methods of learning. And besides almost non of the topics mentioned are about how to paint something, like "how to paint a vase realistically", because that's just plain stupid. I am of the believe that considering that humans are observing on daily basis weather they like it or not, they all know already how to create a realistic image. The core point of reading art theory is to learn related facts that would enhance two part of painting, picture designing and picture presentation. By the first I mean, if you are painting a fantasy city of yours, in its design you could use already existing designs which you could not be aware of unless you have studied them. Similarly you could use the ideas that others have come up with for presenting those designs as a base of inspiration to add your own ideas. These by no means enhanced your ability to paint "something within a few hours by just looking well enough" since as far as I am concerned that's the minimal requirement in creating a picture which most people can do. 

I do agree that watching other people paint or study their finished painting is a great way to improve (as a matter of fact both have been mentioned in the journal and a great section of it has been dedicated to it).

"The old Masters as you call them also believed that the Earth is a sphere, that doesn't mean that they were right, or am I wrong?" I fail to see the importance of your point there regarding your deduction. As far as the majority of the today's world is concerned, besides the scientists and those who take interest in it, the world is still a perfect sphere, not an imperfect pear shaped one. But that in itself is beside the point as I do get what you are trying to say. We do not study the past, ignoring the faults and the lack of knowledge of those who came before us, we study it so that we can build upon the correct knowledge that they obtained and by learning from their mistake not going through the time consuming tasks they had to go through and that's what pushes the human civilization to the level it is today. After all if not on the incorrect Aristotelian science, Newton could have never publish his laws and if not on his incorrect bases Einstein couldnt publish his relativity. 

With all these chases after assumptions and challenging a traditional view point of learning, it feels like I am debating with a IB student.   
(2 Replies)
chrissyanaa Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you very much for this! I've been looking forward to buy some of the books mentioned here when I get the money. 
I've also been learning with ctrl+paint. com it's also a helpful resource site. :D
Again, thanks for putting this up! Will help me in the future :nod:
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My pleasure. Which ones and areas are you specifically looking for? Since I know some of the books could be find on google books for free since they are out of print and some have been set online for free by the authors for the use of all. 

Thank you for the suggestion :D I forgot about ctrl + paint. Though I have visited the website a few times I have never watched the videos since there were not my type of tutorials :D but I know and have heard that it has helped a lot of people hence definitely owns a place in the list. 
Lulie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
*again curiosity* In what way were they not your type of tutorials?
IRCSS Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
again sorry for the late reply :aww: well the thing is the whole "how to paint x or y " sounds abit
 Like how to paint an apple, as if all apples are red green yellow or ... as if when we looked at an apple from different directions we see the same thing or observing an apple on a moment when we are happy and a moment when we are sad. I personally didnt learn to paint like th that. I learned to paint everything and anything through a logical method of observation and deduction but then again any individual has their own method of learning and at the end of the day any sort of practice Contributs to improvment.
at the same time the whole thing is abit to much spoon feeding, I am of the opinion that people already know how to paint from years of passiv observation so its not that hard to learn how to paint a thing realisticly. the hard part is expersing your ideas through development and good presentation and for that you need an active mind set which is achieved through experiment through your learning process (one of the ways anyway) what I am trying to say is that the spoon feeding part slows the process down, comparti
chrissyanaa Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Mostly on the colour theories, perspective and composition.
Oh, that's good to hear! :happybounce: I might download it and
reprint it for personal use :D

I see, yes a lot did. Again, thanks for putting this up 
very helpful indeed :D
IRCSS Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, at least there are not that many books on the subject worth buying. And that would save you alot of money :D Well except for the Munsell book of color which could cost a fortune the other you should be able to find really cheap or online as a pdf or in local libraries. Tell me if you had limited budget and a rough choice to make. 

Try handprint and the dimention of color for color theories and perspective, its the best there is out there.  
Lulie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
The Munsell Student book is not that expensive if you get it second-hand. (Try Amazon, Ebay, etc.)
IRCSS Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I had a look around and didnt found anything, I will have a look again, and sorry for the very very very late answer, I have been crazy busy with uni and work the last month :D hope I didnt offend :) 
chrissyanaa Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, a lot of them are expensive. But I understand how it's difficult to do those stuff.
I might just look into the interwebs see if there is available.

I really need the perspective guide so I will go and grab it XD
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