I've seen a few of these lists. Many repeat the same books. After sifting through a variety of similar headings, I decided to make my own catalogue. This catalogue will reflect what I personally think are great art books. Please note that I am a measly art student, and so my opinions on these books may be skewered and/or incomplete. Please use your own reasoning on art and cross reference with ideas presented to verify the usefulness of these books.
Books listed are what I consider to be the most important from a foundational perspective. Using the following three books would give great grounding, and be an efficient way to learn for any beginner artist. Read on and witness the Top 10 Concept Art Books: Part 1.
by Scott Robertson
How to Draw: drawing and sketching objects and environments from your imagination. Top of the list. This is the most foundational book that all concept artists should have. It covers drawing, perspective, and calculating shadows. From these foundations you will learn to draw anything you can think of. To be able to draw anything as you understand is one the greatest skills for any who works within visual media. Therefore this book should be first in line for furthering your craft.
For the arty souls it can be a bit dry. If you feel like the book is breaking 'art' down into scientific ideas, then you'd be exactly right. There's no go-around. While you don't necessarily have to plot shadows for every drawing, you need to understand the logic behind it. You have to bury your head in this knowledge, ingest the soil of perspective, and exhale visual communication.
However, once you understand the rules, then you can begin to manipulate them. Rules are a tool. Never forget that.
by Robh Ruppel
Graphic L.A. breaks down 'everyday' urban scenes composition into graphic ideas. From this book you can learn to think graphically within art. It is a different approach to the "How to Draw"/viscom/dynamic sketching method. I feel as though the 'How to Draw' method focuses on scientific perspective, and in being accurate. Contrastingly, Graphic L.A. zooms in on making representational shapes, and bending scenes for a simpler read. It is as though 'How to Draw' is for drawing single objects accurately, while Graphic L.A. brings objects together to create a scene.
Admittedly, this book is harder to digest if you are a 'right brainer' (scientific/logical). You may skip past through the pages and think "Yeah, okay. That makes sense". However, you probably already know that concept art is a time skill. And you can't fake time. You need the mileage from actually drawing the compositions. Copy every composition in the book, and then find a similar way to apply it for your own study in real life. From there, you will be able to internalise and consume the tangible knowledge inside.
Edit: There must be other good books that describe visual communication in a graphic form. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments below :)
by Michael Hampton
Figure Drawing: Design and Invention. So you know how to draw from "How to Draw", and you understand graphic shapes with "Graphic L.A." Well done. But without drawing people, you can never populate your theatre. Art is an expression of our human condition. Having figures in your scene will make it that much more emotional. Figure Drawing is the foundational book for understanding how to draw people. It blends both a 'scientific' understanding of the body (How to Draw), with a graphic portrayal (Graphic L.A.). Furthermore, it adds in a new component. Emotion.
Don't forget it's 'art'! It's about how it makes us feel!
And that's a wrap for Part 1! Hope you've gained some new insights into learning. Train smarter, not harder.