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.