The best game art books can inspire us to create as well as reveal how a video game is created. While a great resource for artists, a great video game art book can motivate us to improve our own work, and experiment with new approaches and styles.
Some of the best art books on my list below are for new games available on consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, but others focus on retro gaming. If you're keen on discovering the best video games of the 90s we have a feature on that, and take a look at our guide to the best retro consoles.
I'm a huge fan of the best game artists, and this extends to box art; in our feature 'What’s the secret to great video game box art?' Lewis Packwood shares his personal favourites, some of the books below focus on box art. You can learn a lot from the books on my list, whether you're a fan, game artist or starting on your video game career.
The best game art books
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In my list below you can find a mix of the best video game art books out now and coming soon (these can be pre-ordered) covering game concept art, advice on creating video game art and retro collections of classic box art.
Square Enix has some of the best artists in the industry, and this 300 page official art book contains hundreds of pieces of concept art and illustrations from this year's hit role-playing game, Final Fantasy XVI.
This art book is printed on archival-quality paper stock for quality and features detailed insights into the world, creatures and items of Final Fantasy XVI (see our feature on the art of Final Fantasy XIV for more from this developer). Pre-order to avoid missing out.
The Elden Ring: Official Art Book Volume I is the first in a series, if you like this one then a second volume is available too. I think you will love it, From Software has a defining gothic fantasy style.
This book is over 400 pages of sublime concept art printed in an over-sized format and containing illustrations and commentary translated from the Japanese book.
Square Enix is finally bringing its Japanese-language art and developer commentary to the US and UK in March 2024, so you can pre-order now to avoid missing out. This is an extensive collection of beautiful watercolour art.
This 200-page book features concept art and illustrations from both Octopath Traveler and Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, including translated comments and insights.
This premium art book features over 350 images across 564 pages and contains art and profiles of some of video games' most iconic illustrators, including Bob Wakelin, Steve Hendricks, Ken Macklin, Tom DuBois, Steinar Lund, Marc Ericksen, Julie Bell and Susumu Matsushita.
The collection starts with Atari's VCS console right up until modern day game releases. This is a wonderful insight and celebration of memorable art.
Bitmap Books created unique compendiums of game and game box art, and its collection of PC Engine box art illustrations and photos is a must-read for retro game fans.
This 372 page book features professional photos and art that charts one of the 1980s and early 1990s most innovative trends in commercial art and design. This is a real gem.
This At 372 page hardback book of collected Game Boy box art featuring scans and professional photography of known and rare titles to release on Nintendo's handheld console.
The book features contributions from respected collectors as well as a foreword from Gameboycameraman, collector's interview and Japanese translated content.
Cuphead is an experiment in style that can't fail to raise a smile; it transports you back to classic 1930s animation and this art book reveals how the style was recreated by a team of talented animators and artists at developer Studio MDHR.
The game features beautiful hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation, and in The Art of Cuphead you can see how it was created. An inspirational art book for game fans and animators alike.
This oversized, full-colour hardcover art book collects concept art, sketches and final renders together to chart the creation of the game, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
This is another one you'll need to pre-order, as it releases February 2024. If you do pre-order, you may want to opt for the deluxe edition, which includes special metallic printing treatments, a protective slipcase, and a folio containing an archive-quality lithograph.
God of War Ragnarok is a monster hit for PlayStation 5 and this art book delivers unseen concept art behind the game's most memorable characters, creatures and worlds.
An oversized art book created with developer Sony Santa Monica, it features developer commentary alongside its catalogue of concept art illustrations. For collectors, there's a Deluxe Edition that features a faux leather clamshell case and lithograph.
Best game art books: how we choose
When collating this list of the best video game art books and best books for gamers I've chosen books that have been created by or with input from the game developers involved, this guarantees accuracy and reliable access.
I've chosen to include game art books that also contain new, unseen or rare art and insights, particularly when looking at retro gaming art books. When it comes to retro game content, it's vital they are sourced responsibly and with accuracy, and I've found those created by Bitmap Books are always excellent.
Best game art books: FAQ
What is a game art book?
The best game art books offer a glimpse behind the curtain of how your favourite video games are made. When buying a good game art book it's best to see of the developer has been involved and are there insights on how and why the art was created. Good video game art books can inspire and educate.
How do I get started in game art?
There are lots of ways to get started in game art these days, from formal education to online colleges and courses. How you start your game art career can depend on you personally, whether you want to create concept art, 3D modelling, animation or a mix of disciplines. Start by reading our feature, '7 tips for getting started in game art'.
What software do game artists use?
Game art can be created using many types of digital art software, the core apps being Photoshop, Rebelle 6 and Procreate, as well as the best 3D modelling software, including Blender, 3ds Max and Zbrush. You'll also need one of the best drawing tablets.