-By Dan dos Santos

Anyone who knows me, knows I loooove my art books. I’ve even been known to fly with an empty suitcase to San Diego Comic Con, for the sole purpose of filling it to the brim with art books before my return. Since 2010 is coming to an end, and every one seems to be making their various lists, I thought I’d contribute too and give you my 10 Best Art Books of 2010.

I’d like to preface my list by saying that these 10 books were my personal faves. I know there are a lot of deserving titles, many by members of this very blog, that have been released this year. I strongly encourage you to mention them in the comments section. But these particular titles, I felt, were either really exceptional, unexpected or simply long awaited.
So, in no particular order:

1. Drawings, by Dorian Vallejo

Dorian Vallejo, son of the legendary Boris Vallejo, is honestly one of the best portrait painters I have ever met in my entire life. I can’t begin to describe how facile he is, be it with a brush or a pencil. So you can imagine my enthusiasm when he announced that he had compiled a book of years worth of drawings. The book is amazing. If you are an artist, aspiring or otherwise, and really want a dose of art that will make you feel like an untalented, lazy piece of shit… this is the book for you.

2. Moebius Transforme, by Jean Giraud

I am a Moebius Freak. Yes, I capitalized ‘Freak’, because I feel it’s that official of a title.
I own at least 30 different Moebius books, and apparently, that’s not even half of what is out there. Yet, despite the plethora of Moebius books floating around, the artist  has not released anything in a long time… until now. With 2010 came the release of not one, but TWO new Moebius books. Not only has he revamped his classic Arzach, but he has produced an amazing catalogue to coincide with his solo exhibit at the Fondation Cartier. This limited edition book will set you back a pretty penny, but for a Moebius Junkie, it’s a must have.

3. Harvey Dunn, by Walt Reed

Harvey Dunn is one of the great Golden Age American Illustrators. Having instructed artists like Dean Cornwell and Saul Tepper, a book devoted to the man has been long overdue.  Thankfully, Flesk Publications has finally delivered. This book went on sale just days ago, so be sure to grab it while you can.

4. Rough Justice, by Alex Ross

Say what?
Yes, Alex Ross.
One day the family and I went to Barnes and Nobles. Being my turn to watch the kids while the Wife shopped around, I grabbed this book thinking it would kill some time while the boys caused a ruckus in the children’s section. Now I will be the first to admit that Alex Ross’ painted comic work just doesn’t do it for me. I find it a little stiff at times, and his realistic attention to detail often kills the sense fantasy a little bit. So I expected to be rather unimpressed with this book, but I was so wrong. This book collects Alex’s preliminary sketches for numerous projects, and really shows off his true abilities. Whatever you may say about his painting, his pencil work is undeniably brilliant. His sense of lighting and composition are on full display here, and really have changed my opinion of his work.

5. Jean-Leon Gerome,

Gerome has been one of my long standing inspirations, having painted hundreds of realistic and epic images usually based on historical or mythological subjects. Unfortunately, the only books cataloging his work have either been black and white, or incredibly small (Like, 7 inches tall). For the first time that I know of, there is an oversized book consisting of solely his work, with wonderful reproductions.

6. Cover Run, by Adam Hughes

Anyone who knows comics knows Adam Hughes. Graphic, stylish, and undoubtedly sexy, this book can be summed up in one word… YUMMY.

7. Aggregate, by Steve Prescott

If you don’t know Steve’s work, you are truly missing out. Primarily doing work for clients like Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, Steve’s paintings manage to evade the radar of a lot of people. Yet, for those in the know, his work is envied by many and unparalleled in creativity. Wizards of the Coast has yet to release a book of the art created for them, and I am starting to think it will never happen.  Until then, this book is the next best thing. Consisting of just black and white preliminaries, this book is chock full of brilliant costume designs.

8. The Legend of Steel Bashaw, by Petar Meseldzija

Justin Gerard has recently written a post about Petar’s work, so I won’t delve into a childish, jealous rant about how good it is. Suffice it to say, if you oil paint, and you do not own this book, you are retarded.

9. Spectrum 17, By Arnie and Cathy Fenner

At this point, Spectrum needs no introduction. I truly feel it is at least partially responsible for keeping Fantasy art in the forefront of the public’s attention and maintaining that interest. Composed of HUNDREDS of the year’s best Fantasy artworks, this book, and all of the prior volumes are a must own for anyone interested in making SFF art their career.

10. Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, by James Gurney