5 Essential Books on Animation Design

Have you ever watched cartoons and animated movies and wondered about the design work behind them? Here is a list of books that take a look at animation design.

Animator’s Survival Kit

Author: Richard Williams

The book is written by Canadian-British animator Richard Williams, who is best known for his work in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. It is based on his master classes, which took place in the United States and throughout Europe. Here, he explains the principles of animation that every designer/animator, beginner or expert, should know. He encourages his readers to invent while being credible. The book includes illustrations of the points it develops. The author shares many tips, tricks and techniques used in animation.

Animation time

Authors: Harold Whitaker and John Halas

The book explains that timing is important in animation, as is giving it enough space, understanding how long each drawing should last for dramatic effect, among other techniques. Many vital techniques used by animators around the world have been explained here with illustrations and simple instructions. The latest edition includes an overview of digital production timing, digital storyboarding in 2D and 3D.

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

Authors: Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

The authors of this book, Frank and Ollie, created animated masterpieces like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Bambi” and “Pinocchio”. This book examines how the duo was instrumental in transforming Walt Disney Studios into a powerhouse and the highest level of animation. Using simple language and avoiding jargon, the book examines the 12 rules of animation created by the duo, where the emphasis is on the realism of the characters, while having their own essence.

This illustrated book is not just a “how to” guide. It impresses with original historical drawings of characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Snow White and Bambi, among others. The book also examines how certain realistic animation effects were achieved in Disney’s most popular films.

Crash course in character animation!

Author: Eric Goldberg

It’s written by Eric Goldberg, whose work in films like “The Princess and the Frog,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Hercules” has garnered worldwide attention. The book is accompanied by detailed texts and drawings. It sheds light on the characters’ strong personalities and how to make the characters stand out on the page.

The book is easy to read, despite the important animation techniques it shares.

Anime frames: building culture and image

Author: Tze–yue Hu
This book delves into the world of anime. Rather than a guide, it delves into the history of the popular form of Japanese animation.

The author used a variety of research methods, including interviews with expert anime animators, while examining a nine-year period that included extensive fieldwork conducted in Japan and other parts of the Asia.

*These books are available online

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