Best Books, Crafts & How-To, Education, Nonfiction

The Best Animation Books

The Best Animation Books

“What are the best books to learn about Animation?” We aggregated and ranked 83 of the best books about animation technique and history in an attempt to answer that very question.

Learn about the art of animation from some of the best in the business, as well as the history, styles, and techniques used by the pros. We looked at 17 different best animation book sources and aggregated them together, ranking the top 17 below with images, summaries, and links to learn more or purchase. The remaining 66 books, appearing on a single list a piece, as well as the sources we used, can be found at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Happy Scrolling!

 



Top 17 Animation Books



17 .) Animated Cartoons: How they are made, their origin and development by Edwin G. Lutz

animated-cartoons-how-they-are-made-their-origin-and-development-classic-reprint-by-e-g-lutz
Lists It Appears On:

  • AWN
  • Research

First published in 1920, this is one of the first and best books on the art of animation. Edward Lutz’s classic contains many shortcuts to the process of film animation. These shortscuts were a trademark of Lutz’s teaching. This book offers tips on drawing anatomy and motion and gives detailed instructions on how animated pictures are made and work. Walt Disney used an original copy of this book, relying heavily on its advice and teaching. This is both a valuable guide to animation and an extremely collectible classic.

Learn More About Book



16 .) Animation: A World History by Giannalberto Bendazzi

animation-a-world-history-volume-1-foundations-the-golden-age-by-giannalberto-bendazzi
Lists It Appears On:

  • Cartoon Research
  • Indie Wire

Giannalberto Bendazzi’s three-volume Animation: A World History is the largest, deepest, most comprehensive text of its kind, based on the idea that animation is an art form that deserves its own place in scholarship. Bendazzi delves beyond just Disney, offering readers glimpses into the animation of Russia, Africa, Latin America, and other often-neglected areas and introducing over fifty previously undiscovered artists. Full of first-hand, never before investigated, and elsewhere unavailable information, Animation: A World History encompasses the history of animation production on every continent over the span of three centuries.

Learn More About Book



15 .) Character Mentor by Tom Bancroft

character-mentor-studio-workbook-1-shape-inspiration-by-tom-bancroft
Lists It Appears On:

  • Pulse
  • Taught By A Pro

You’ve researched your character extensively, tailored her to your audience, sketched hundreds of versions, and now you lean back content as you gaze at your final character model sheet. But now what? Whether you want to use her in an animated film, television show, video game, web comic, or children’s book, you’re going to have to make her perform. How a character looks and is costumed starts to tell her story, but her body language reveals even more. Character Mentor shows you how to pose your character, create emotion through facial expressions, and stage your character to create drama. Author Tom Bancroft addresses each topic with clear, concise prose, and then shows you what he really means through commenting on and redrawing artwork from a variety of student “apprentices.” His assignments allow you to join in and bring your drawing to the next level with concrete techniques, as well as more theoretical analysis. Character Mentor is an apprenticeship in a book.

Learn More About Book



14 .) Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels by Tom Bancroft

creating-characters-with-personality-by-tom-bancroft
Lists It Appears On:

  • Taught By A Pro
  • Pulse

From Snow White to Shrek, from Fred Flintstone to SpongeBob SquarePants, the design of a character conveys personality before a single word of dialogue is spoken. Designing Characters with Personality shows artists how to create a distinctive character, then place that character in context within a script, establish hierarchy, and maximize the impact of pose and expression. Practical exercises help readers put everything together to make their new characters sparkle.

Learn More About Book



13 .) Drawn to Life, Vol I and II by Walt Stanchfield

drawn-to-life-20-golden-years-of-disney-master-classes-the-walt-stanchfield-lectures-volume-2-by-walt-stanchfield
Lists It Appears On:

  • Miles Sebesta
  • Animation Magazine

Drawn to Life is a two volume collection of the legendary lectures from long-time Disney animator Walt Stanchfield. For over twenty years, Walt helped breathe life into the new golden age of animation with these teachings at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and influenced such talented artists as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, and John Lasseter. These writings represent the quintessential refresher for fine artists and film professionals, and it is a vital tutorial for students who are now poised to be part of another new generation in the art form.

Learn More About Book



12 .) How To Be A Disney Historian by Jim Korkis

how-to-be-a-disney-historian-tips-from-the-top-professionals-by-jim-korkis
Lists It Appears On:

  • Cartoon Research
  • Indie Wire

“In this engaging how-to anthology, Jim Korkis documents the history of Disney history, with help from Disney’s Chief Archivist Emeritus David R. Smith, and then gives practical advice for conducting interviews with Disney notables; researching, organizing, and using information; and handling the media.

From there, fifteen of today’s leading Disney historians share at length their best practices for researching and writing essays, articles, and books about every facet of Disney culture. “

Learn More About Book



11 .) How To Make Animated Films by Tony White

how-to-make-animated-films-by-tony-white-kathryn-spencer
Lists It Appears On:

  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Animation Magazine

Become Tony White’s personal animation student. Experience many of the teaching techniques of the golden era of Disney and Warner Brothers studios and beyond.all from the comfort of your own home or studio. Tony White’s Animation Master Class is uniquely designed to cover the core principles of animated movement comprehensively. How to Make Animated Films offers secrets and unique approaches only a Master Animator could share. Includes hands-on Tutorials, demonstrations and final sample animations. . Whether you want to become a qualified animator of 2D, 3D, Flash or any other form of animation, Tony White’s foundations bring you closer to that goal.

Learn More About Book



10 .) Stop Staring, Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right by Jason Osipa

stop-staring-facial-modeling-and-animation-done-right-by-jason-osipa
Lists It Appears On:

  • Animation Crush
  • Lifewire

While thoroughly covering the basics such as squash and stretch, lip syncs, and much more, this new edition has been thoroughly updated to capture the very newest professional design techniques, as well as changes in software, including using Python to automate tasks.

Learn More About Book



9 .) Animation: From Script to Screen by Shamus Culhane

animation-from-script-to-screen-by-shamus-culhane
Lists It Appears On:

  • Animation Arena
  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Pulse

Shamus Culhane, the animator who made the dwarfs in Snow White, achieves something few are able to: He makes it possible to learn a concrete skill from a book. Covering every aspect of film animation, from basic mechanics to giving creativity full play, and including writing, recording, acting, dialogue-even how to mange an animation studio of one’s own, Culhane fulfills the promise of his title-“from script to screen.”

Learn More About Book



8 .) Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Mike Mattesi

force-dynamic-life-drawing-for-animators-by-mike-mattesi
Lists It Appears On:

  • Miles Sebesta
  • Mok Nok
  • Pulse

“Whether you are an animator, comic book artist, illustrator or fine arts’ student you’ll learn to use rhythm, shape, and line to bring out the life in any subject while Mike Mattesi’s infectious enthusiasm will have you reaching for your pencils!

Mike Mattesi is the owner and founder of Entertainment Art Academy (www.enterartacad.com) based in Southern California. He has been a professional production artist and instructor for the last fifteen years with clients including Disney, Marvel Comics, Hasbro Toys, ABC, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks and Nickelodeon.”

Learn More About Book



7 .) Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation by Wayne Gilbert

simplified-drawing-for-planning-animation-by-wayne-gilbert
Lists It Appears On:

  • Animation Arena
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Pulse

Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation is packed with information about drawing the human form in a simplified way, for animators, illustrators, character designers and comic artists. It emphasizes simplified structure, balance and posing with sequential images. This book is used by animators at ILM, Walt Disney, Blue Sky, EA and many more. It has been required text at animation schools since 1999. This is an updated version with more character design information and animated examples from planning notes. It is a must-have book for animators and artists in all fields, perfect for experienced artists and beginners.

Learn More About Book



6 .) Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg

character-animation-crash-course-by-eric-goldberg
Lists It Appears On:

  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Taught By A Pro
  • Animation Arena
  • Miles Sebesta

Character Animation Crash Course! is a veritable Genie’s lamp stuffed with everything the aspiring animator could wish for! Renowned animator Eric Goldberg’s detailed text and drawings illuminate how to conceive characters “from the inside out” to create strong personalities. Classic animation techniques are analyzed and brought to life through this unique book that offers readers animated movie examples that show, in real time or frame-by-frame, the author’s principles at work. Add to this Goldberg’s discussions of classic cartoons and his witty, informative observations based on the wealth of knowledge he’s gained during his 30-plus years in professional animation, and you have a tour-de-force guide to character animation with the classic touch.

Learn More About Book



5 .) Acting for Animators by Ed Hooks

acting-for-animators-a-complete-guide-to-performance-animation-by-ed-hooks
Lists It Appears On:

  • Lifewire
  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Animation Arena
  • Animation Crush
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Pulse

Hooks uses basic acting theory to explain everything from character movement and facial expressions to interaction and scene construction. Just as acting on film and on stage are very different disciplines, so is the use of acting theory in creating an animated character, scene or story. Acting for Animators is full of essential craft tips from an acting master.

Learn More About Book



4 .) Timing For Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas

timing-for-animation-by-harold-whitaker-john-halas
Lists It Appears On:

  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Animation Arena
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Pulse
  • Animation Magazine
  • Lifewire

“A classic of animation education since it first published in 1981. For more than 25 years, copies of Timing for Animation have been sitting dog-eared and spine-split on desks and workstations around the world wherever animation is produced. All you need to breathe life into your animation is at your fingertips.

All the vital techniques employed by animators worldwide are explained using dozens of clear illustrations and simple, straightforward directions. Learn how animations 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. Fully revised and updated, the second edition includes timing for digital production, digital storyboarding in 2D, digital storyboarding in 3D, the use of After Effects and much, much more!”

Learn More About Book



3 .) Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair

cartoon-animation-by-preston-blair
Lists It Appears On:

  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Animation Arena
  • AWN
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Bloop Animation
  • Pulse
  • Taught By A Pro
  • Mok Nok

This is the one sourcebook that cartooning and animation enthusiasts have been clamoring about for years! A time-tested classic, this tried-and-true reference is often used as a textbook in cartooning workshops, and beginning and professional cartoonists alike are known to have copies of Cartoon Animationin their libraries. In this comprehensive title, famed animator Preston Blair shares his expertise on how to develop a cartoon character, create dynamic movement, and coordinate dialogue with action. Topics include character development, line of action, dialogue, timing, and, of course, animation! This valuable resource provides all the inspiration and information you need to begin drawing your own animated characters.

Learn More About Book



2 .) The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

the-animators-survival-kit-a-manual-of-methods-principles-and-formulas-for-classical-computer-games-stop-motion-and-internet-animators-by-richard-williams
Lists It Appears On:

  • Animation Arena
  • Pulse
  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Lifewire
  • Mok Nok
  • Sparksight
  • Animation Crush
  • Bloop Animation
  • Taught By A Pro
  • Animation Magazine

“The definitive book on animation, from the Academy Award-winning animator behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Animation is one of the hottest areas of filmmaking today–and the master animator who bridges the old generation and the new is Richard Williams. During his fifty years in the business, Williams has been one of the true innovators, winning three Academy Awards and serving as the link between Disney’s golden age of animation by hand and the new computer animation exemplified by Toy Story.

Perhaps even more important, though, has been his dedication in passing along his knowledge to a new generation of animators so that they in turn could push the medium in new directions. In this book, based on his sold-out master classes in the United States and across Europe, Williams provides the underlying principles of animation that every animator–from beginner to expert, classic animator to computer animation whiz –needs. Urging his readers to “”invent but be believable,”” he illustrates his points with hundreds of drawings, distilling the secrets of the masters into a working system in order to create a book that will become the standard work on all forms of animation for professionals, students, and fans.”

Learn More About Book



1 .) The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

the-illusion-of-life-disney-animation-by-frank-thomas-ollie-johnston-walt-disney-company
Lists It Appears On:

  • 2D Animation Software Guide
  • Animation Arena
  • Animation Magazine
  • AWN
  • Bloop Animation
  • Lifewire
  • Miles Sebesta
  • Mok Nok
  • Pulse
  • Research
  • Taught By A Pro

The most complete book ever written on the subject, this is the fascinating inside story, told by two long-term Disney animators, of the gradual perfection of a relatively young and particularly American art form–which no other movie studio has been able to equal.

Learn More About Book



66 Additional Best Books to Learn Animation



 

BooksAuthorsSources
Animation Development: From Pitch to ProductionDavid B. LevyAnimation Magazine
Animation For BeginnersMorr MerozBloop Animation
Animation: The Archive SeriesAnimation Magazine
Anime InterviewsTrish LedouxAll The Anime
Anime: A Critical HistoryRayna DenisonAll The Anime
Anime: A HistoryJonathan ClementsAll The Anime
Anime’s Media MixMarc SteinbergAll The Anime
ART IN MOTION: ANIMATION AESTHETICSMaureen FurnissAWN
BEFORE MICKEYDonald CraftonAWN
BEFORE THE ANIMATION BEGINSJohn CanemakerAWN
Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and The Rise of American AnimationNicholas SammondCartoon Research
Body Language: Advanced 3D Character RiggingEric Allen, Kelly L. Murdock, Jared Fong, Adam G. SidwellLifewire
Cartooning the Head and FigureJack HammSparksight
CARTOONS: 100 YEARS OF CINEMA ANIMATIONGiannalberto BendazziAWN
Character Mentor: Learn by Example to Use Expressions, Poses, and Staging to Bring Your Characters to LifeTaught By A Pro
Comedy For AnimatorsJonathan LyonsCartoon Research
Directing for Animation: Everything You Didn’t Learn in Art SchoolTaught By A Pro
Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding TechniquesFrancis GlebasLifewire
Draw the Looney Tunes The Warner Bros. Character Design Manual.Warner Bros. StudioMiles Sebesta
Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed FigureBarbara BradleyTaught By A Pro
EMILE COHL, CARICATURE, AND FILMDonald CraftonAWN
EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATION: ORIGINS OF A NEW ARTRobert Russett andCecile StarrAWN
FELIX: THE TWISTED TALE OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CATJohn CanemakerAWN
Figure DrawingMichael HamptonAnimation Crush
Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing From Concept to ScreenSteve Katz2D Animation Software Guide
Frames of AnimeTze-Yue G. HuAll The Anime
HOLLYWOOD CARTOONSMichael BarrierAWN
How to Cheat in MayaEric Luhta & Kenny RoyLifewire
Humans and Animals in MotionEadweard Muybridge2D Animation Software Guide
Inks, Drinks and CatfinksShawn DickinsonCartoon Research
Inspired 3D Short Film ProductionPepe Valencia & Jeremy CantorAnimation Arena
Introducing Character Animation with BlenderTony MullenLifewire
LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIESJerry Beck and Will FriedwaldAWN
Mastering MayaTodd Palamar & Eric KellerLifewire
MICKEY MOUSE: EMBLEM OF THE AMERICAN SPIRITGary ApgarIndie Wire
Molly and The BearBob ScottCartoon Research
OF MICE AND MAGICLeonard MaltinAWN
One Piece Movie 6 – Pencil Test and Design BookMok Nok
Paper DreamsMok Nok
Pikachu’s Global AdventureJoseph TobinAll The Anime
Starting Point 1979-1996Hayao MiyazakiAll The Anime
TALKING ANIMALS AND OTHER PEOPLEShamus CulhaneAWN
Technical Manuals for SoftwareSparksight
TEX AVERY: KING OF CARTOONSJoe AdamsonAWN
Tezuka School of Animation Volumes 1 and 2Tezuka ProductionsSparksight
THE ANIMATION BOOKKit LaybourneAWN
The Anime EncyclopediaJonathan Clements and Helen McCarthyAll The Anime
The Art of 3D Computer Animation and EffectsIsaac KerlowAnimation Magazine
The Art of Animal DrawingKen Hultgren2D Animation Software Guide
The Art of Kung Fu PandaTaught By A Pro
The Art of Open SeasonTaught By A Pro
The Art of TangledTaught By A Pro
The Art of The Princess and the FrogJeff KurttiAnimation Magazine
THE ART OF WALT DISNEYRobert DAWN
THE FLEISCHER STORYLeslie CabargaAWN
The Mad Art of Caricature!: A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny FacesTom Richmond’Taught By A Pro
The Making of Fantastic Mr. FoxWes AndersonAnimation Magazine
The Male and Female Figure in MotionEdward MuybridgeAnimation Arena
THE NINE OLD MEN: LESSONS, TECHNIQUES AND INSPIRATION FROM DISNEY’S GREAT ANIMATORSAndreas DejaIndie Wire
The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and AnimeToshio BanAll The Anime
The Soul of AnimeIan CondryAll The Anime
Thinking Animation, Bridging the Gap Between 2D and CGAngie Jones and Jamie OliffAnimation Crush
Understanding ComicsScott McCloudSparksight
Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video GamesAlberto MenacheResearch
WALT IN WONDERLANDRussell Merritt and J.BAWN
WINSOR MCCAY: HIS LIFE AND ARTJohn CanemakerAWN


Best Animation Book Sources



SourceArticle
2D Animation Software Guide Top 10 Animation Books Every Artist Should Have – My Personal List
All The Anime ANIME STUDIES: TEN BOOKS TO OWN
Animation Arena Top 10 Animation Books
Animation Crush TOP 5 BOOKS to LEARN 3D ANIMATION
Animation Magazine Ten Essential Books for Animation Students and Fans
AWN Disney’s ILLUSION OF LIFE tops best animation books poll
Bloop Animation 3 Animation Books Every Animator Should Own
Cartoon Research Reviews Of New Animation Books
Indie Wire New and Notable Animation Books
Lifewire 3D Computer Animation Books – Theory and Practice
Miles Sebesta Best Animation Books – Top 10
Mok Nok Best Books to Learn Animation
Pulse Top 10 Best Animation Books
Research Books
Sparksight Top 5 Animation Education Books
Taught By A Pro All Time Favorite Art and Animation Instruction Books

 

You Might Also Like