Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition
Betty Edward's classic drawing book has been continually updated and reprinted since it was first released in 1980. It remains as relevant and essential to artists today as it ever was.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of quality information in this book, though you will either love it or hate it. Edwards spends a lot of time discussing the mental processes of drawing, emphasizing the difference between seeing and knowing.
The illustrations are excellent, but this book will suit a keen reader best. It's best to get hold of a copy and decide for yourself.
Best for Exercises
Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner
Claire Watson Garcia's book begins at the very beginning and progresses slowly with many useful exercises. Beginners will find their confidence boosted as their results look like the examples from other students.
The book sticks with fairly basic materials and doesn't go off into fancy stuff or too much philosophy, with the exception of some answers and thoughts about art-making here and there. Well-worth the purchase price, especially if you're just starting out.
Best for Fine Art
The Natural Way To Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study
Kimon Nicolaides' book is regarded by many as one of the best drawing books ever written. It is designed as a long course of study which requires constant practice and is designed for those truly interested in fine art drawing.
This book is not suitable for anyone who wants instant results. If you are serious about learning to draw—whether you're a beginner or have some experience—this book may be for you.
Best on the Go
Traveling With Your Sketchbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Travel Sketching with Emphasis on Pen-and-Ink
Joyce Ryan's book on pen-and-ink sketching wouldn't be the first choice for a beginner, but many students are very enthusiastic about it. The author's approach is very casual and it may best be suited if you have some sketching experience, but it's good none the less.
You will find many clear and helpful suggestions on composition and technique. Ryan also offers plenty of exercises and examples for you to explore, from developing a sketch on site to working from photographs and much more. Take a look for yourself, it may be just what you need.
A Foundation Course in Drawing
University lecturers Peter Stanyer and Terry Rosenberg authored this book for Watson-Guptill. It has an academic feel and is an ideal text for art students.
The book has many interesting projects with a contemporary edge best suited to those who want to really explore all the possibilities drawing has to offer. It's also a highly recommend and useful sourcebook for teachers and those with a little experience. Raw beginners would be better off with a different book, but keep it in mind for later.
Best for Painting
Learn to Draw and Paint
By Curtis Tappenden, this useful book has loads of color illustrations by various artists, with plenty of great ideas and useful tips. It touches on various mediums, including pencil, charcoal, oils, watercolor paint, and pastels.
However, the techniques are often only lightly skimmed over. While it is useful for more advanced amateurs seeking ideas, or as a teacher's resource, beginners will also need a book that covers the individual mediums in more depth.