The Animation Bible(s)

Here is a list of what I believe are 10 best and most useful animation books. Whether you are a beginner animator, a seasoned pro, or just a drawing enthusiast, I think you would benefit from them. They deal with drawing basics in general, getting ideas for animation, character design, landscapes, 2D and puppet animation, 3D animation, drawing comic books and anime. The list will probably be updated as I find more useful books. Many people think that animation has become a skill you can only learn using computers, but there is certain things you have to do the old way. For more information on each book, details, reader’s reviews and prices click on the book titles.

1. The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

There is no easy way to describe this book. You just have to read it. It contains tons of useful basic tips and it’s taught from by University professors all over the world.

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2. The Animator’s Sketchbooks by Pixar

A great book that helps you get great ideas and develop them. It’s a great tool to get to know Pixar’s creative process and how they decide what’s good and what isn’t, which you can then apply to your own work.

animation books

3. How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna

This is, In my opinion, the best book on drawing basics out there. Learn how to draw human anatomy, expressions, nature, movement, faces or anything else you never knew before. It’s extremely simply written, and it focuses on the practical part.

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4. Drawing the Landscape by Chip Sullivan

Learn how to create astonishing landscapes, sceneries and backgrounds for your animation.  This great book offers guidance for tapping into and exploring your creative potential and helps you master the essential principles, tools, and techniques required to prepare professional graphic representations in landscape architecture and architecture which is a must know for animators.

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5. Drawing and Painting Fantasy Landscapes and Cityscapes by Rob Alexander

A great source for creators of fantasy games or movies. The book has easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step illustrations that demonstrate techniques for rendering a wide range of fantasy features, whether working in ink, watercolor, or on computer.

animation books

6. Pixar Storytelling; Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films by Dean Movshovitz

A great textbook that teaches you what Pixar’s core story ideas all have in common and examines their character development process, unique, intricate story structure and use of theme, all of which are key to the studio’s storytelling achievements.

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7. Designing with Pixar: 45 Activities to create Your Own Characters, Worlds and Stories

I found this book to be one of the best tools for character design. It’s full of great ideas and it really gets your imagination going. It’s in fact a children’s book, but I often find them more helpful that any professional literature.

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8. Stop-Motion Animation: Frame by Frame Film-Making with Puppets and Models by Barry Purves

This book is packed with tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of your stop-motion animation, accompanied by illustrations and case studies demonstrating how film-making masters have used it over the years.

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9. The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects by Isaac Kerlow

 I think this book is the best all-in-one textbook for 3D. It offers easy to understand, step-by-step guidelines for the entire process of making a fully rendered 3D computer animation. It does not focus on any specific software, therefore it can provide a great insight into 3D in general, as opposed to most specific tutorials.

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10. Elemental Magic Volume I: The Classical Art of Hand-Drawn Special Effects Animation and Volume II: The Technique of Special Effects Animation by Joseph Gilland

Simply put this is one of the best animation books out there and every animator should read. It’s the effects bible. Gilland has over 30 years of experience (he worked on Mulan, Lilo and Stitch etc.). Elemental Magic is the only book dedicated completely to creating hand drawn effects, and it does that perfectly. 

animation effects


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