Top 10 Animation Books

I have been asked quite a few times recently to recommend some books to people who are either trying to get into the animation industry or are looking for something to inspire them to the next level. This list isn't in any way complete or definitive, but these are the books I feel everyone should have in their library.

10. The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hultgren
- Written and illustrated by a former Disney animator, this is THE book for studying animal anatomy and how it translates into appealing motion. A great Dover Classic release, so it's reasonably priced to boot!

9. Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair - A collection of two classic Walter Foster books (and including oodles of new goodies as well!), Cartoon Animation is a great overview of the art of animation. One of the great features of this book is the frame by frame breakdowns of several classic animated scenes, including the dancing hippos from Fantasia!

8. How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema - Not technically considered an "animation" tome, but I've found this to be an incredibly vital resource for storyboarders. The information on composition and action posing can't be beat.

7. Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams
- A great, more recent volume by the directing animator of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "The Thief and the Cobbler." Williams is known for his attention to detail and for teaching the principles of animation as they are meant to be taught.

6. How to Write for Animation by Jeffrey Scott - Anyone who plans to delve into story, especially television and direct to video animation projects, should own this animation script bible by the prolific Jeffrey Scott. Scott has penned a dizzying number of classic episodes, and has even won an Emmy or two. (And he's related to Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. How cool is that?)

5. Producing Animation by Catherine Winder and Zahra Dowlatabadi - The most effective, informative, and comprehensive book I've ever read concerning the producer's role in animation. I recommend this to anyone who plans to be a director or producer... It will be your best friend when you have to make those tough production decisions.

4. Creating Characters with Personality by Tom Bancroft - Not only does this contain some sage advice about how to create appealing characters that fit your story, it's also chock full of assignments to help you hone your skills. Great, affordable book with tons of contemporary ideas.

3. Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Mike Mattesi - Much of this book can come across as a glorified sketchbook, but studying Mattesi's drawings reveals the hidden power and force of human anatomy. A perfect companion for life drawing exercises.

2. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud - Again, not necessarily intended as an animation guide, McCloud's analysis of the comic art form lends itself to storyboard work, layout, and animation. An interesting study of how our brains process sequential information.

1. Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Frank and Ollie - Since it's original release, this large and beautiful volume has been widely referred to as the "Animation Bible". No book before or since has quantified the magical pieces that make up a Disney animated film. Meant to be enjoyed and understood over a lifetime, this is the single most important book about the creation of animation.

So, that's my list... What books would you add? Any additional thoughts on what I've listed here? If I get enough suggestions from everyone, I'll do a follow up post with the Top 10, Part Two!

Stay classy, bloggers!


S.T. Lewis said...

I like all of the "Art Of ___" books too, but those don't teach you how to do animation as much as they just remind you that you suck at everything you do... or shall I say that I suck at everything I do. You do just fine. Except "to boot." Don't say that.

Richard Gaines said...

I think I have the (moral) majority of the aforementioned books. And guess what. I still have light years to go. :-(

PS-Do more dalmatian characters!

JK said...

All About Techniques in Drawing for Animation Production, by Sergi Camara is a great candidate for your bookshelf. It is a very complete look at the process of animation from start to finish and also helps bridge the gap between 2D photographic animation techniques and 2D computer assisted animation.

Milan Rubio said...

A must be list, well linked, but... what about the Muybridge ones?
Great blog, great artist!
Thanks for the visit.
See you!

flashfox said...

Richard Williams has this amazing 16 DVD set of Animator's Survival Kit out now. I wish I could afford to own it. *dreamy sigh*

Heather Dixon said...

I really like the Ben Balistreri books, action cartooning and fantasy cartooning, I think they are called.

Also the Brian Lemay layout books are smokin'!

David Nethery said...

I would add to your list:

"Character Animation Crash Course" by Eric Goldberg

"Drawn To Life , Vol. 1 and Vol 2." by Walt Stanchfield.