Ok. So these are my top 5 must read books for artists. Or what to do when not drawing and painting. Answer: Read about drawing and painting.
Imagine FX Magazine: So your first thought is "Hey, this isn't a book, it's a magazine!" True, but never mind that. What a great resource for anyone trying to figure out how to use their computer like a paint brush. In depth step-by-step tutorials on digital media with focuses on Photoshop and Painter. The website has past tutorials, or Workshops as they call them, to download for free as well.
by Stephen Quiller: This book is great as a colour theory primer as it is. The theory of artistic colour is clearly explained with beautiful full colour pages. The interesting difference in this book is the Quiller Color Wheel. Imagine an artists colour wheel that, instead of all the usual suspects arranged around the circumference, has Windsor and Newton, Liquitex and a few others manufacturers labelled in their places.
Painting Techniques of the Masters by Lester Cooke: A great resource if you can find a copy, it is out of print. I found mine at Amazon. This book analyzes Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Durer and many more. Great to flip through and remember what those before you have already figured out. Really this is centuries of hard found knowledge that nearly disappeared and has been rediscovered. The dissection of classical drawing and painting techniques is the most useful and interesting I have come across. Sadly, out of print, you can still find good copies out there.
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and Joe Buscema A book about comics? Are you serious? Never. Except this time. This easy read is a great book for a couple of reasons. One it's accessible for kids and adults. The lessons are presented in a slapstick manner taking away the pressure that can come from a blank page. I believe that everyone can develop the ability to draw just like most of us can write. Granted in seems unlikely that a doctor would make a good artist based on that comparison. This book focuses on the dynamic figure poses and layouts that made Marvel Comics famous. Lessons learned are the basics, literally what you need to know and why waste time on the others stuff! The book covers realism, perspective, figure studies, foreshortening, composition and a few comic specific chapters as well. The cool thing about this book is its like Stan is there talking to you in his usual enthusiastic voice.
Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill: Want to draw and sketch in black and white then this is the book for you. So many examples of techniques that will instantly improve your sketching. One of the more comprehensive books on pen and ink rendering.
So there you have it! My list. Do have any books that you feel deserve to be on list. Send me them!