DYNAMIC FIGURE DRAWING by Burne Hogarth
Combined with the book below, Dynamic Figure Drawing gives you a great layer of facts and images to keep your brain powering through all the terrible sketches an artist makes before finally finding that halfway-decent one. This book is more on the text side, but it's easy to pick up and read as you learn the human figure and all its weird littler intricacies. Even if you don't find yourself a huge fan of the nude figure, learning to master it is just about the best way to become a great drawer or anything in this universe.
ANATOMY FOR THE ARTIST by Jeno Barcsay
Compared with Hogarth's work, Anatomy for the Artist is almost entirely pictures, including a few hundred beautiful sketches of the skeletal and muscular systems, each segment noted with their names and purpose, as well as plenty of depictions of humans with their skin actually on. This book was given to me by my art teacher in elementary school and it slowly fed into my work as I began to delve deeper into art as I grew older. By the time I was in college, it was required reading. Literally! This was the textbook for my anatomy drawing classes at the University of Missouri. I still reference it constantly and it's always on hand.
BOLD VISIONS by Gary Tonge
Like the first two books were great on helping you master putting the pencil on paper, this book is a great little intro to putting the stylus on the graphic tablet. Photoshop, Painter, Layers, Filters, and all the other important elements of digital art is presented here, accompanied by plenty of beautiful art. Tonge gives different ways to approach the empty canvas and also touches on color and light and finding references. A number of step-by-step walkthroughs are also presented. Seeing the steps an artist takes, even just visually, without the details, has always helped me think up new ways to approach my own art.
THE DC COMICS GUIDE TO DIGITALLY DRAWING COMICS by Freddie E Williams II
Another great introduction book that helps you tackle digital art whether you're new or just find yourself intimidated. This is almost a more simple approach than Bold Visions, as its solely focused on comic art. There are a lot of nifty tricks Freddie E Williams shows you in this book that helps you speed things a long so you're not repeating yourself or struggling with annoying details. He also talks about your desk, your workspace, and backing up your work. Williams also shows a few different ways to do digital comics, whether its completely digital or a synthesis with your penciled work.
MECHANIKA by Doug Chang
Doug Chang follows in the footsteps of Ralph McQuarrie and other great concept artists, as he knows when to go crazy and when to be subtle. This book is a series of walkthroughs of his process, as he takes on robots, cars, jets, and builds up to more epic battle scenes. Besides Anatomy of the Artist, this was one of the first art instruction books I bought and I fell in love with it. I still return to it and Chang's work to help figure out challenges I'm having with my current work.
DIGITAL PAINTING TECHNIQUES
This is one volume from a series of books that tackle the processes of many different and talented digital artists. It's basically an anthology of sorts, tackling custom brushes to matte painting and more. It's fun to just pick up and read a section randomly. It's also a great introduction to all the artists featured within.
The walkthrough that led to the cover art displayed here (by Daarken) acted as the guide to painting this piece a few years ago.
That's all I've got for now. Got plenty of more books on my Christmas List so perhaps I'll post an updated list later on. I also plan to post a guide of the "art of" and "visual guide" books in my collection sometime soon.