You might be looking for something for yourself or another artist in your life, this time of year. I’ll list some books I have recently purchased and loved as well as some upcoming books that have me drooling a bit. I am including a variety, from illustration to fine art and ‘art of’ books. I apologize to your bank accounts ahead of time. There are some real bargains as well as some high priced treasures in here.

Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter – $36 new – $28 used
It is hard to say enough good things about Zorn. This book has beautiful reproductions of his oils, watercolors, sketches and a section at the back full of engravings. I don’t know what I like the most. His handling of water blows ones mind.

Fantastic book filled with beautiful commercial illustration work, movie posters, book covers and fine art.

Another great McGuiness book and written by our own Cathy and Arnie Fenner! This one has increased in price significantly, so keep your eye out for it used and you might score a real bargain. Pretty pricey on Amazon, but great book!
This is a CRAZY BARGAIN! I have written about this book before. It has some of the best reproductions of any Rockwell book I have seen and some excellent commentary too. Less than $2 used at the time of this posting. Even the new price is a stupid good bargain.
Okay, this one is a little nuts… keep your eyes out for it at your favorite, unaware bookshop and maybe get a bargain somewhere on it. I had no idea that the value of this book had skyrocketed, but I understand it. It is gorgeous, massive, and full of masterworks. Bravo passed away not too long ago and will go down as a 20th century master. I think he is one of a handful of artists that I would bet good money will be important 100 years from now. I love my copy of this book and have no plans to sell it.

Portfolio – Mark Shultz – The Complete Various Drawings – $28.51 new

This book is like a beautiful course in composition. It is filled with three value designs. Black white and grey shapes used in every combination possible to create mood and depth. Dan Dos Santos recommended this book to me while teaching a workshop in my studio. What a great find! It has some pinup style nudity. I mention it in case there are parents buying for younger artists and want to be aware. Wonderful book and worthy of study for the design and fun, lively drawings.
Two that I have ordered and I can’t wait to get my eyeballs on:

It amazes me that this book is so cheap new. There is a massive amount of work that goes into illustrating these cross-section books. Go pre-order this one now to get it for less than $14 with Prime.

I am a sucker for the art of Star Wars books and the last two (Rogue One and Force Awakens) didn’t disappoint. 

This book feels a bit like a master class in environment and character concepting. Lots of beautiful vistas and iterations on character ideas

another beautiful Star Wars book. I don’ think it is as consistently great as The art of Rogue One, but it still has lots of wonderful artwork.
If you are a fan of the man, this book is for you. It isn’t cheap, but it is really well done. I would pay a bit more for this book actually. So well done and has paintings that I have never seen before.

One of the very best ‘Art of’ books that has come out in a long time, and you can get it for a real steal right now. I can’t say enough about it. Cory Loftis’ character design work is as good as it gets and the environments and character exploration will inspire. So will the expression studies. I can’t recommend this one enough. 

This book is worth it just for the Glen Keane drawings. On top of that there is also stellar concepting from Craig Mullins, David Goetz, Claire Keane and Jin Kim. I like this book almost as much as the Zootopia book. Again, worth it just for Glen Keane’s drawings.

Frozen was almost too successful for it’s own good, almost like a song that gets overplayed. If you can let it go… and just enjoy the artbook on it’s own, you can find a visual treat, and at bargain prices. I really like the character/costume design section. Bill Schwab’s work stands out to me, especially with his designs for Elsa’s dress. Another bargain at less than $5 used.

Crazy that you can get this one for less than $10 used! I love Ryan Lang’s environment concepts in Moana. Beautiful flat shapes that create depth and strong design. I am a big fan of this movie, so the book had an easy sell, but is a very strong book on it’s own. I love the exaggerated scale of the landscape concepts and the attention to detail in the costumes and tattoos.

Great text and excellent reproductions. Is there more you need to know?

and of course
Practically required reading just to get in the door around here. 🙂 It seems like these annuals just get better and better each year. Amazing.
Lots of other great bargains out there, but this list grows long!