10 must-have books for sci-fi and fantasy artists

Whether you're a concept artist, illustrator or art director, you need inspirational art books in your life.

Researching artists and taking inspiration from previous masters is essential to your own progress as a creative.

To help inspire your imagination, we have compiled the best of the last year's artistic book releases to bring you our top 10 sci-fi and fantasy texts you need to grab for your bookshelf.

01. The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

john harris book

Growing up with books by Arthur C Clarke, Alfred Bester and Isaac Asimov, John Harris was inspired to enter the realm of science fiction.

Harris has been creating stunning imagery in this genre since the mid-70's, everything from vast landscapes and towering cities to floating worlds, this stunning hardback compiles four decades worth of illustratings.

Mainly working with watercolour, Harris also dabbled inacrylics and the book also showcaces pencil sketches capturing his surreal take on out-of-this-world scenery.

john harris book open

02. Middle Earth Envisioned

middle earth art

Tolkein's world has been inspiring art for the past 60 years and it continues to produce eye-catching visual adaptations. Middle-Earth Envisioned is a comprehensive history of the Lord of the Rings world, in all it's life forms.

The book captures everything from the first unauthorised Canadian broadcast in 1953, to comic books, Peter Jackson and letter-known adaptations such as a Russian TV rip-off. A must have for any Tolkein fan.

middle earth spread

03. Hyperluminal: The Art of Jim Burns

jim burns cover

Divided into styles, this compilation of Jim Burns' 40 year career makes is easy to dip into for inspiration. Burns has created covers for fantasy luminaries Peter F Hamilton, Anne McCaffrey and George RR Martin, and these book sleeves are no better than his personal works.

His talent has transitions through traditional techniques, into a mastery of Photoshop and digital illustration, a truly prolific painter.

jim burns art spread

04. E338: The Art of Loic Zimmerman

loic zimmerman

Film-makers go-to guy for something left of centre, Loic Zimmerman has carved out a name for himself as a cinematic visual artist. His understanding of both 2D and 3D mediums is more than apparent, as is his hotch-potch punk attitude to work.

A quirky character himself, he brings a new perspective to pop-culture icons Bob Dylan and Wolverine. His work equal parts surreal, nightmarish and erotic.

Loic Zimmerman open book

05. Substrata: Open World Dark Fantasy


After the collapse of Darksiders developer Vigil Games, concept artist Paul Richards gathered together over 80 other artists from the world's top video games studios and compiled a book of "what-if" Darksiders 3 concept art.

Without studio constraints, these artists' imaginations ran wild and offer up some beautifully dark creations. Witness their WIP's and garner an insight into the world of video game concept design.

substrata spread