Animation is all about observation, learning how to bring characters to life through movement. Here at our studio, we still reference animation books daily. People often ask what animation books we recommend so we’ve put this list together for animation new comers as well as seasoned pros. With Christmas just around the corner maybe Santa might be dropping some of these into a few stockings!

The Animator’s Survival Kit – Richard Williams

A must have classic for anyone wanting to start out in animation. Written by the legendary Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), the book covers in depth all of the basic principles of animation.  Although this may sound daunting, the book is written in a way that makes these lessons simple, informal and accessible for anyone, regardless of their animation knowledge. Easy to read, great visual aids and endless tips that every animator should know.


The Animators Survival Kit

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

This book is huge! But the information inside is what formed the foundations of Western animation today. The main feature of this book is the breakdown of the 12 principles of animation, the ideals that led Disney to dominate in the 1930’s and help establish them as the animation powerhouse they are today. As well as information on how each of the principles are used in animation, the book also gives a brief insight into how they were utilised in early Disney animated films.  If you can apply these principles to your own work, you’ll be well on your way to producing quality animation!

The Illusion of Life

Cartoon Animation – Preston Blair

When creating a character for animation, it’s important to make it stand out and have an impact on the viewer. Although this book focuses on earlier 2D animation, the characters and techniques outlined are still applicable today. Lessons such as line of action and character construction help in creating characters that are not only interesting visually, but also have personality and functionality. The book leans heavily on visuals, with most of the pages looking more like a sketchbook. This should really help you understand the lessons in design that are being taught throughout.

Cartoon Animation

Draw to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes – Walter Stanchfield

With over 150 lectures and illustrations, this book is made to be picked up and flicked through to find tips and lessons on the fly. With insights coming from giants of the medium such as Glen Keane and John Lasseter, you’ll be learning tips from veteran Disney animators that have been used since the early days of the studio. The subjects covered vary greatly. The main focus is put upon applying techniques rather than teaching you the basics outright. If you want to top up your animation skill set, this book is a gem that will never disappoint.

Drawn to Life

Direct the Story – Francis Glebas

Animation is more than just movement. There are many elements that go into making an animation successful. For a narrative animation, its best to plan out everything you want to achieve in the film before hand in order to achieve a coherent end result. That’s where this book will come in handy. Directing the Story gives insight into how to storyboard an animation from scratch.  Details like framing a shot and directing the eye are covered, which when applied to your own work with help keep the shots in your animation fun and engaging.


For more industry tips and advice why not check out our blog looking at How to Create the Perfect Showreel


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