Ed Emberly's drawing books are fun for everyone

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/06/ed-emberlys-drawing-books-ar.html


I just found 3 of these in my basement from when I was a kid. Loved drawing the monsters. My 8 year old started drawing them as well… <3


I still have a few of his books from childhood as well. And… (checks Wikipedia) …Ed’s evidently still alive, good for him.


I’ve never really discovered his books though I wish I had. I’ve been struggling to simplify my drawings for years. I just came across his books a couple of weeks ago and was very excited. This book looks like a good place to start!

Also just found this video on Lynda.com about his life and work. It’s really worth the watch:



I recall these coming in a tablet form too – one page that you flipped up that had a bunch of little lessons – so there was a castle one with how to draw a knight, an archer, a guard, a maiden, a dragon, a catapult*, etc. Then you’d just tear the sheet away and start anew from the same instructions. Very cool on long car trips!

  • To our younger mutants: there was a time in the 1970s and 1980s when the trebuchet was not nearly as appreciated as it is today as an improvement on the basic catapult. Of course it is a superior siege engine, but at the time we did not know. The arc of history is long and it bends toward justice (it’s just that the trebuchet’s arc is longer and more powerful).

I grew up with his books and, to this day, I miss my childhood copies. I always found them brilliant tutorials on how to draw, taking away the mysteriousness of how to create a figure by literally giving simple step by step instructions.


He’s local and I took my son to a book signing of his when he was little. We still have a cute little dinosaur he drew for my son. He’s as absolutely delightful as you’d imagine.


I am a fully self-employed and reasonably successful artist. I learned so much from these books when I was young. I took them out from the library repeatedly. One of the great things about them is how they break down complex ideas into simple shapes that anyone can drawn. ‘now add two circles. now three straight lines’ and so on. Afterall, it’s only a representation of the thing - a line that is a spider leg. A circle with a dot that’s an eye. It really helped with wrapping my head around what it is to draw anything and the fact that everything can be broken down into curves, straight lines, and so on, to create the images we see (and later the fact that it’s all gradients as well).

Anyhow - my point is - if you have a youngster who likes to draw and you want to point him in some direction, check out these books. They are fun, silly, and incredibly useful for budding artistic minds.

Incidentally, many years later I was reading Scott McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’ which also breaks down the idea of caricatures as having more broad ranging emotion than super realism and some of these early ideas still come through.


My brother and I enjoyed Ed Emberly’s books when we were growing up, and I think he uses them in some of his art education work to this day.

We also liked the show The Secret City:


Commander Mark!!

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You know, it’s no wonder I’m over-enthusiastic about the Space Force – such things were getting fetishized in my impressionable young mind going way back, lol!

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I’ve had this in the wish list for some time

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