Figure Drawing For All It's Worth: prized instructional art book by Andrew Loomis back in print


Andrew Loomis was an American illustrator whose work appeared in many magazines in the mid-20th century. In addition to his beautiful editorial work for magazines, Loomis also wrote and illustrated a half dozen or so instructional drawing books, and for the last 30 years or so they've been in great demand, even though they've been out of print.

About 15 years ago I went to a used bookstore here in Los Angeles, and when I asked the owner if he had any Loomis books for sale he told me that the Disney studio had a standing order for any Loomis books that came into the store.

Many professional illustrators have told me that their Loomis books are the most valuable teaching tools they own.

I eventually got my hands on a couple of his books, paying about $100 per copy. These were beat up copies, without the dust jackets. (If you want a Loomis illustration book in good condition, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars or it.)

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It's easy to find Loomis's books as PDF files online, but the quality isn't that great. Fortunately, Titan Books just released a new edition of Figure Drawing For All It's Worth, one of Loomis's best-known instructional illustration books.

This hardbound edition is a facsimile of the original edition, which came out in 1943. Since I have the earlier edition as well as the new one, I was able to compare them side-by-side. The new version is much better.

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The original edition was printed on cheap, thin paper. The new edition is much thicker, and the pages are whiter.

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The quality of the printing in the original (top) is very slightly better than in the new edition (bottom). The new edition is a touch more harsh than the original. The original has more shades of gray. But the overall difference is very minor. Like I said: I paid about $100 for my beat-up copy of Figure Drawing For All It's Worth, and I feel it was money well spent. The new edition is $23.49 on Amazon, which is an outright steal.

Figure Drawing for All It's Worth


  1. Hey, I was passed that book along by my father when I was twelve or so. Yes, I learned to draw from Andrew Loomis. And I learned to draw from that book that my father purchased when he was a student. Damn, I wonder where it is now?

  2. Fantastic news! Now if they’ll do Creative Illustration we’ll be set. I think it goes for thousands.

    I own Loomis’s cartooning book, Fun With a Pencil, which I’ve had since I can remember. I adopted it from my Mom’s ownership when I was, like, 8. We also had Drawing the Head and Hands, but I’m afraid it went the yard sale route 25 years ago.

    1. According to the dust jacket of “Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth”, Titan Books also plans to reprint Creative Illustration.

  3. This book is amazing. And to see a hardcover reprint for a reasonable price is great. I had the mentioned PDF’s that were linked from my professor in figure drawing class. I would spend time just flipping through it for the sake of admiring the work within.

    Now the big question is will we see a reprint of the now poorly named “Fun With a Pencil” given the period poor racial stereotypes. It’s really amazing instruction for a budding artist that leads nicely into figure drawing.

  4. Titan is going to republish Fun With a Pencil, Creative Illustration, and Drawing the Head and Hands. You can bet I’ll get them!

  5. Millions of grown men probably recall sweaty quick encounters with that book when the parents were out for a while…

  6. Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard is also quite good and still generally available. Though not quite on the level of Loomis.

    Still… the best teacher is the human figure, charcoal, paper and your own personal struggle.

  7. My cartooning teacher in college would always give us reference sheets pulled from pages in Loomis’ books for things like proportion and musculature, and to show the influences of artists like Alex Ross. A lot of my reference books for figure drawing and bodily proportion are either from Burne Hogarth (who is also quite outstanding) or generic photographic figure reference books, so I’m quite excited that this is going back into print.

  8. i’ve been given numerous copies of his books over the years along with dessicated tubes of cheap oil paint by all the sunday painters who heard i was an artist. excuse me while i beat a hasty retreat to my parent’s storage shed for the books i hope are still there. finally i own something that’s worth money on eBay!

    1. Blink. I have a copy of the original as well, which I inherited from my aunt. Had no idea it was worth anything..

  9. The price and easy availability beat Richard Schmid’s books by a longshot. Despite the different subject matter…I swear that guy doesn’t really give as much of a damn about teaching art as he does a dollar, the way he prices his books.

    I know it sure would be nice to get some advice from some of the newer hotshot illustrators who draw just as well, like say, Steve Huston. C’mon Steve, whaddya say? Write us a book?

  10. Oh my goodness!! I learned to figure draw from PDFs of his books, back when I was a teenager. I would study them religiously, at the insistence of one of my favorite online mentors. Being a teenager in the 90s meant I had long missed out on available print editions.

    I’ll definitely buy a copy of all of his books when I get the chance. This is amazing! I’ve owned many art instruction books in my time, but none were the quality of Loomis’.

    1. As a teenager I also probably would have studied it religiously too, but just ended up getting the pages all sticky.

      Hey, there was no internet and we had to make do with stuff like this and National Geographic sometimes…

  11. I’ve still got the copy my dad had; he was an illustrator, and said it was the best book ever on figure work. I spent hours hunched over that thing trying to master the fine art of drawing naked females.

  12. A friend of mine scooped up a copy out the discard pile in the library she works in, amazing the stuff that almost gets thrown out!

  13. Is this book of any use to those just getting started drawing, or is it better suited to more advanced illustrators?

    1. This book is a de facto standard for anyone wishing to study figure drawing. Loomis is brilliant and treats figure drawing as the classical discipline that it is. The kind of stuff I wished they had taught us in “art” class but of course never did. Post says it all: $23 is a STEAL.

    2. Fun With A Pencil is Loomis’s book most directly aimed at beginners, but Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth starts with fairly basic concepts.

  14. I remember shelling out $300.00 for “Creative Illustration” years ago. My copy still had the color section in it (often if you were able to find a copy of “Creative Illustration” someone had already razored out the color section). I think I paid around $150.00 for “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth”. Both books were worth every penny.

  15. In the early ’70s, I tracked down copies of Loomis’s “Figure Drawing”, “Creative Illustration”, and “3-Dimensional Drawing” and learned much from them (though I can’t claim that I read through all the text). My still-prized copy of “Creative Illustration” shows that I paid $8.50 for it. “Figure Drawing” I might have paid the full listed price for: $8.95. I’m not sure what those prices are in 2011 dollars, but it sounds like the reprints will be relatively less expensive than used copies of the originals.

  16. Titan is going to republish Fun With a Pencil, Creative Illustration, and Drawing the Head and Hands. You can bet I’ll get them!

    Thanks for the info mark! Could you keep us updated when these other titles are back in stock? Otherwise I’ll probably forget…

    – druse

    Btw, I couldn’t sign in. I just installed IE 9, might’ve something to do with it…

  17. Thanks Mark!

    Could you keep us updatd when the other titles arrive?

    Btw, Ignore previous comment, something went wrong.

  18. I dunno. A lot of these women are in heels, have model-like proportions, gorgeous hair. This reminds of of countless other figure books from the 50’s that were de facto pornography. This book is very good for the retired adult male who goes to figure drawing every thursday or feverish young boy.

    Not that this guy is better, but note the difference:

  19. I’ve got a copy of How to Draw the Face and Hands somewhere. It’s quite lovely in a retro way and I am sure they are very good for learning illustration.

    However, I remember my two rather brilliant art teachers at high school looking at the book when I brought it in to show them, and laughing. Then they taught me how to draw starting with the spaces between things rather than outlining things themselves. A whole new world opened up.

    1. “Then they taught me how to draw starting with the spaces between things rather than outlining things themselves. A whole new world opened up.”

      Yes, Loomis is excellent if you want to be an illustrator. Nicolaides’ “The Natural Way to Draw” is far superior because it will teach you how to see rather than how to copy.

      Shit copies
      Talent borrows
      Genius steals.

  20. I paid like $2 for an original in perfect condition about 5 years ago. Found it somehow browsing on a used bookstore in Venezuela (of all places). I felt like a pirate stumbling upon a pile of gold.

    I learned to draw with the Loomis pdf’s. It’s great someone it’s getting them on print again. These books are ageless.

  21. Another highly recommended book is Disney Animator Donald Graham’s book Composing Pictures. My used copy was about a hundred dollars, it was reprinted last year in paperback for $ 26.37 (

  22. There are at least 2 of Loomis’ books in print in Spanish. Printed in 2008 in Buenos Aires. In paperback but still nicely done.

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