7 Books Every Digital Animator Should Read

Animation is something that has alway intrigued me ever since my childhood and this desire escalated after watching movies like ‘The Incredibles’, ‘Inside Out’, ‘Snoopy’, and ‘Charlie Brown’. I really admire the art of animation these movies offered. What I noticed about them, is that they simply used timeless animation design and principles. Perhaps, this is the reason why these movies got so much appreciation from kids as well as adults.

I think everyone who wants to grow as a creative animator must know about the designs and principles of animation. There are some decade old books that talk about them. Even after a long time, these books are relevant and will remain standard for many years to come. Below are my personal favorites that helped me shape my career. I recommend them to all digital animators who want to enhance their creativity.


  1. The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston


This amazing book by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston speaks about the development of techniques by Disney. After the projects like ‘Nine Old Men’ and ‘12 principles’, the Disney studio has established itself as a pivotal figure in the animation industry.

In this book, you can notice the author’s great wealth of knowledge and experience in the animation field. What makes this book worth buying for animators is, it includes the principles of traditional animations along with a detailed history of the craft.


I personally think, ‘The Illusion of Life’ should be on every shelf.


  1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book is an absolute must for anyone looking to build a career as a graphic animator. Written by Steven Pressfield, the book has inspired countless people across the globe. The book does not teach any particular skill, rather the author makes readers familiar with his struggles with writing. This non-fiction book is a must-read for animators who need the motivation to pursue their endeavors. It highlights the forms of resistance faced by artists and entrepreneurs trying to break through creative barriers.


  1. How to Make Animated Films by Tony White

This English animation veteran has worked with Richard Williams (a Canadian-British animator) on various cartoons, films, and commercials.

White is also one of the highly acknowledged teachers in the animation world who has taught thousands of animators across the globe. This book is an in-depth guide to the whole animation process. So, go get this book today if you want to build your career in animation.


  1. The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

The Animator’s Survival Kit is one of the well-known books. If you have a little interest to work in the animation field, possibly you might have heard of this book. The book covers almost everything you should know about animation, ranging from the basics of spacing, timing, overlapping action, animal animation to stagger dialogue.

Williams is renowned for his artistic approach which he developed at London Studio. He is better known for directing the animation on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. If you are looking for a detailed explanation of the fundamental principles of the animation, this book should be in your to-read list.


  1. Animation: From Script to Screen by Shamus Culhane

This award-winning animator worked with almost all the top animation studios. Culhane was one of the artists who got success in bringing the wealth of knowledge from the Golden Age of animation to his work.

This book will always have a special place in my heart as it means so much to me. It was the first book that I read on animation. And even after reading a number of books on animation, I still find it the best book to gain knowledge of animation production.


  1. Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas

This is an excellent book, especially for beginners. It introduces the concept of animation and how to use it properly in animation. It has various drawn examples ranging from weightlifters and dancers to bouncing ball. People looking for a complete guide on animation timing and spacing, should get themselves a copy of this book.


  1. Humans and Animals in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge

This list book is incomplete without mentioning this book. Muybridge is the person behind the invention of “Moving picture”. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that without Eadweard, we might not even have films. Before his invention, artists used to present horse running with one leg on the ground.

Muybridge had a different idea in his mind, he used a series of cameras to shoot horse running that made capturing the complete running of the horse possible. If you need a good reference for humans and animals in motion, this is still one of the best books available.


Building a Career in Animation?

Getting into an animation job or artistic career can be tough but it is a rewarding choice. If you are trying your luck getting into this job, I recommend reading these resources. These books are surely going to help you along in your creative journey to animation.



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