I’ve got a lot of e-mails asking for book recommendations over the years. I’ve talked about doing a post, but never have. So I figured now was as good a time as any to write it (as you’re all probably looking for something to buy for yourself for Christmas). There’s a ton of animation books out there. Most are inspirational, some are informative, but some are just plain old essential. These are the books I’m listing here today, the essential ones.
I’m gonna be direct and say that, in my opinion, these are the best books an animator can have on his/her book shelf. If I had to whittle my shelves down to ten books, this is what I’d have left. They are the best because they are authored by masters. You will constantly refer back to them throughout your career, and always learn more from them. They will teach you almost everything you need to know as a modern animation artist from drawing to composing your shots to actually animating them with appeal. If you don’t have something on this list, I highly recommend you treat yourself. Here they are in no particular order:
The Illusion of Life
The Animator’s Survival Kit
Drawn to Life (Volume 1 & Volume 2)
Character Animation Crash Course
The Five Cs of Cinematography
Painting with Light
Animation From Script to Screen
In the Blink of an Eye
Note: I would include The Famous Artist Course in Commercial Illustration (1960), but it is actually three binders, and much harder to find. You can occasionally find copies of this on eBay.
Add Setting the Scene: The Art & Evolution of Animation Layout to your Christmas lists. It’s a gem!
Another gorgeous addition to the series has just been released. I personally would have preferred to see a full volume dedicated to both Layout and Background, but this is still a must have. It’s nice to see that more books on Layout are arriving in the near future.
Joe Barbera, Gene Kelly, and Bill Hannah.
“…through the years I’ve learned what all Hollywood survivors must learn to remain survivors. You learn that you aren’t working with people, you’re working with egos – and they’re working with yours. Once you learn that, you start taking all the slings and arrows less personally. You understand that they come with the territory. After all, you’re not dealing with store clerks and bank tellers and toll takers, who do their job, and pack up and go home at the end of the day. You’re dealing with an assortment of artists and con men and combinations of them – very powerful people, whose power nevertheless hangs by the thinnest of threads.”
- An excerpt from Joe’s autobiography, “My Life in ‘toons.”
The above quote is directly related to an experience Joe had with Gene’s ego. Check out the book for more.
Dreamworks animator, Alberto Corral, recently sent me a copy of his first children’s book, “My Monster Burrufu.” I can whole-heartedly recommend this title to not just parents, but animation artists who, like me, some day hope to venture down the same path and create their own children’s books. This charming book is illustrated by the uber-talented Alessandra Sorrentino (scroll down for a sneak peak at one of the illustrations). For more info on the book, check out the official website. Click the cover image to check out the book on Amazon.
How to Cheat in Maya is one of my favorite computer animation books, and it’s back this year with a 2012 update. Click the image below to pre-order your copy!
Check out the official website too. It has a bunch of free videos by the always entertaining Kenny Roy (pictured below).
Tod Polson has revealed he’s working on finishing up Maurice Noble’s design book. If this book sees the light of day, it will occupy a spot on my book shelf, which is really small now by comparison to a few years ago.
The fourth installment in the gorgeous Disney Archive Series will be released in October. Pre-order your copy today!