80 Level Ratings: Old-School Books on Animation

In this article, we collected 10 books that will help you kick off your career as an animator.

Our first book was written by an acclaimed cartoon animator Preston Blair. The author shares his vast practical knowledge to explain and demonstrate the many techniques of cartoon animation. By following his lessons, you can make any character, person, animal, or object come to life.

The book consists of 5 chapters. In chapter one, Preston Blair shows how to construct original cartoon characters, the second chapter explains how to create movements, chapter three discusses the finer points of animating a character, including creating key character poses, chapter four is all about dialogue, how to create realistic mouth and body movements, and facial expressions, and the fifth chapter has clear explanations of a variety of technical topics.

As a bonus, Blair's book is filled with expert advice, as well as helpful drawings and diagrams, so this book is a treasury of knowledge for any beginning animator.

Our next book will teach you how to apply physics to character motion, light and shadow placement, explosions, ocean movement, and outer space scenes. First, physics concepts are explained in animator’s terms, so it’s all about animation movement and appearance. It breaks down complex mathematical concepts into clear steps you can follow to solve animation problems quickly and effectively.

There’s also a bonus companion website with additional resources, including examples in movies and games, links to resources, and tips on using physics.

This book was written by a BAFTA-nominated professional animator Harold Whitaker, "The Father of British Animation" John Halas, and updated by Tom Sito, a Professor of Animation at the University of Southern California. Ever since it was published back in 1981, Timing for Animation has been one of the pillars of animation and is abundant with various methods and procedures to bring your animation to life.

The book focuses on various aspects of animation, including but not limited to timing for digital production, digital storyboarding in 2D and 3D, and the use of After Effects, as well as interactive games, television, animals, and more.

You will also learn how animated scenes should be arranged in relation to each other, how much space should be used, and how long each drawing should be shown for maximum dramatic effect.

Our next pick will show you how to create memorable stories using animation and motion graphics by following 10 simple guidelines for concept development, pre-production, storyboarding, and design.

Award-winning animator Liz Blazer will teach you how to write a creative brief for your project, find and communicate your story’s big idea, create a tight story using linear and nonlinear story structures, use color to clarify and enrich your story, and more.

This book was written by the director and producer behind countless cartoons and the creator of such characters as the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Pepé Le Pew, and Marvin Martian Chuck Jones. This book is for those aspiring animators who seek inspiration and just need a gentle push to begin. In this memoir, Jones reminisces about the Warner Bros. studio and the golden age of animation. Plus, the book captures the antic spirit that created classic cartoons-such as Duck Dodgers in the 241/2 Century, One Froggy Evening, Duck Amuck, and What's Opera, Doc? A perfect pick for any beginning animator.

Pixar Storytelling written by Dean Movshovitz reveals effective storytelling rules of Pixar’s greatest films. The book contains ten different chapters, each of which explores aspects of storytelling that Pixar excels at. You will learn what Pixar’s core story ideas all have in common, how they create compelling, moving conflict, what makes their films’ resolutions so emotionally satisfying, and more. Also, there are tips on Pixar’s character development, unique, intricate story structure, and use of theme.

Our next book is a compendium of ideas for animators who are starting out or looking for their next job, It serves as an insider’s guide to getting into the animation industry, staying there, and getting ahead. 

This book features animation top dogs including Steven Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob SquarePants; Al Brodax, producer of Yellow Submarine; Teddy Newton, character designer on The Incredibles; Linda Simensky, senior director of PBS Kids; John R. Dilworth, creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog; and dozens of others who get their insights on creating a portfolio or reel, meeting animators, networking, and making the leap from working for others to pitching and selling.

The next one covers drawing and sketching techniques which are crucial to the art of animation, due to their necessity in designing and developing original stories, characters, and layouts. The book offers an abundance of examples, exercises, and tips from a number of professional animators to help beginners develop essential sketching, technical drawing, and ideation techniques.

Also, it includes interviews and in-depth case studies from some of today's leading animators, including Bill Plympton, Glen Keane, Tori Davis, and John Canemaker.

Our next pick was written by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, the authors who worked with Walt Disney himself as well as other leading figures in a half-century of Disney films. They personally animated leading characters in most of the famous films and have decades of close association with the others who helped perfect the animation industry. 

The book answers everybody's question about how the amazingly lifelike effects of Disney character animation were achieved, including charming stories of the ways that many favorite animated figures got their unique personalities. 

As a bonus, the book features heaps of the original historic drawings used in creating some of the best-loved characters: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Snow White and Bambi (among many, many others) as well as early sketches used in developing memorable sequences from classic features such as Fantasia and Pinocchio.

And lastly, we have a definitive book on animation from the Academy Award-winning animator behind "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Richard Williams. The author uses examples from his legendary masterclasses to explain the basic principles of animation that every animator should know. The book features hundreds of drawings to cover all forms of animation for professionals, students, and fans.

Join discussion

Comments 0

    You might also like

    We need your consent

    We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more