In the age of online learning it is very important to get a right educational material as part of self education. I have been collecting art related books myself for a several years now and happy share my top 5 books I always recommend to any matte painter or environment artist looking to improve their composition.
Composition of Outdoor Painting
by Edgar Payne
The last reprint of this book was back in 2005. Written by California impressionist Edgar Payne, this book is considered one of the must have items in your library. Targeted towards landscape painters it will provide a great source of information about composition, color and shapes. The rules of basic composition from the book could be also applied to photography and digital work.
Vision: Color and Composition for Film
by Hans Bacher
This book features hundreds of amazing illustrations as well as a great amount of information on how to best compose and use images to create the most powerful keyframes for the entertainment industry, whether it movies or animation or video games. The book will be interesting for beginners as well is for seasoned artists as it contains tips, exercises, and a depth of knowledge garnered from a lifetime in the industry.
Framed Perspective Vol.1 & Vol.2
by Marcos Mateu-Mestre
It is hard to overestimate the importance of good understanding of perspective when it comes to matte painting or environment art. Framed Perspective books will equip artists with the technical knowledge needed to produce successful visual storytelling-related compositions, from understanding the basics of the space around us to more complicated subjects like creating entire locations that will become the believable set ups our characters and stories will exist within.
How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination
by Scott Robertson
Scott Robertson is the artist who needs no introduction. He is a concept artist, known for his transportation design work. He also contributed to several blockbusters like Minority Report from Steven Spielberg. In his book, Scott goes over how to draw any object or environment from your imagination, starting with the most basic perspective drawing skills. How to Draw is for artists, architects and designers and is useful to everyone from novice to professional.
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
by James Gurney
James Gurney is the well known New York Times best-selling author of the Dinotopia series. He covers two of art's most fundamental themes; Color and Light, and bridges the gap between abstract theory and practical knowledge. This might sound like something targeted at traditional painters only but, in fact, this book collects an enormous amount of useful information with great examples that will teach you how to understand the nature of light and color and how to apply this knowledge in your everyday work.
Books may not be the primary source for artists these days, in particular digital artists. But it can be therapeutic to step away from the PC with once of these books to learn about the craft in a way we don't normally enterain.
I highly recommend checking out these books above and grab one of them. Start with one and over time you will learn the value of having all of these at your disposal!