Our Animation Book List

In any field, learning is essential. Growing skills is an essential part of all careers. Of course, we learn a lot by practicing but taking time to nurture the theory is important to perform better in any field. And animation is no exception. ‌

10 months ago   •   9 min read

By Gwénaëlle Dupré
Photo by Elisa Calvet B. / Unsplash

In any field, learning is essential. Growing skills is an essential part of all careers. Of course, we learn a lot by practicing but taking time to nurture the theory is important to perform better in any field. And animation is no exception.

That's why we decided to help you with a list of the best book about the subject. Here is a non-exhaustive list of books we found useful, we hope you find them helpful too!

Don't hesitate to send us your suggestions to add to this list, we would be glad to make it collaborative.

1. The Animator’s Survival Kit (2002)

The Animator's Survival Kit is a comprehensive guide covering various aspects of animation, including valuable insights into the art and techniques involved in the animation process.

It offers practical advice and tips from an experienced animator, Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Pink Panther). It is considered a classic in the animation industry and is highly recommended for both beginners and seasoned professionals.

Main takeaways: fundamental principles of animation, understanding timing and spacing, creating believable and expressive characters, and mastering the principles of motion.
It also provides solid advice regarding the animation pipeline and how to direct animators.

ISBN: 9780571202287,0571202284

2. Acting for Animators (2003-2017)

"Acting for Animators" focuses on teaching animators the art of incorporating acting principles into their animation work.

Bridging the gap between acting and animation helps animators create more compelling and realistic performances for their characters. By understanding acting techniques, animators can breathe life into their creations, making them relatable and emotionally engaging to the audience.

Main takeaways: learning how to analyze and interpret a character's emotions and motivations, understanding body language and facial expressions to convey emotions effectively, and grasping the concept of character arcs and development throughout a story.
The book provides guidance on conveying personality traits through animation and capturing the essence of a character's actions and reactions with examples from animated movies like Aladdin, The Jungle Book, and The Little Prince.

ISBN: 978-1138669123

3. Starting Point: 1979-1996 (1996)

"Starting Point" is an autobiography of Hayao Miyazaki―one of the most renowned and influential figures in the world of animation―providing insights into Miyazaki's early life, his journey as an animator and director, and the founding of Studio Ghibli from Miyazaki himself.

This book offers a unique opportunity to understand the mind behind some of the most beloved animated films in history from "My Neighbor Totoro," and "Spirited Away," to "Princess Mononoke." Miyazaki's creative process, inspirations, and struggles are laid bare, giving readers a glimpse into the passion and dedication that goes into the making of his extraordinary works.

Main takeaways: an appreciation for Miyazaki's commitment to storytelling and his unwavering dedication to hand-drawn animation, even in the face of technological advancements.
Readers will also learn about the importance of environmental and societal themes in his films, as well as his deep respect for nature and the human spirit. Additionally, the book offers valuable lessons on perseverance, artistic integrity, and the pursuit of excellence in one's craft.

ISBN: 9781421505947, 2009012560

4. The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

"The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox" provides an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the production process of the animated film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" by acclaimed director Wes Anderson. It’s an exploration of the creative decisions, challenges, and innovations that went into bringing this stop-motion masterpiece to life.

The book is worth a read for several reasons. First, it provides valuable insights into the world of stop-motion animation, showcasing the craftsmanship involved in creating the film's characters and sets. Readers can gain a deeper appreciation for the dedication required to produce a stop-motion film of this caliber. It offers a glimpse into the collaboration and teamwork among the filmmakers, animators, and other creative talents involved in the project, highlighting the importance of effective communication and problem-solving in the filmmaking process. Finally, it serves as an inspiration for aspiring animators and filmmakers by demonstrating how a unique vision and a commitment to artistic excellence can result in a visually stunning and emotionally resonant film.

Main takeaways: a better understanding of stop-motion animation techniques, an appreciation for the importance of attention to detail in the filmmaking process, and insights into the challenges and triumphs faced by the creative team throughout the production.

ISBN: 978-0847833542

5. Animated Storytelling (2015)

"Animated Storytelling" explores the art of storytelling in the realm of animation―various techniques and strategies used by animators and filmmakers to create compelling and emotionally engaging narratives through animation.

Storytelling is at the heart of every successful animated film. Whether it's a short film, feature-length animation, or even a marketing animation, the ability to tell a captivating story is essential. This book serves as a valuable resource for animators, filmmakers, writers, and anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of animated storytelling.

Main takeaways: learning about the fundamental elements of a good story and how they apply to animation. This includes character development, plot structure, pacing, and creating meaningful conflicts and resolutions.
The book also discusses the importance of visual storytelling and how animation can enhance the emotional impact of a narrative through the use of visuals, color, and animation techniques.
Animated Storytelling is also highly practical, diving into case studies of successful animated films and how their storytelling techniques contributed to their success. Readers can gain valuable insights from real-world examples and apply these lessons to their own projects.

ISBN: 978-0134133652

6. Sketching for Animation (2016)

"Sketching for Animation" focuses on teaching aspiring animators the essential skill of sketching and how it relates to the animation process. It covers various aspects of sketching, including character design, storyboard creation, and visual storytelling, all of which are critical in the early stages of animating a project.

Sketching is the foundation of animation: before animators bring characters to life through movement, they start with sketches to develop the characters' appearance, personality, and expressions. Storyboarding, a form of sketching, is also crucial for planning the sequence of events in an animated film. This book not only teaches sketching techniques but also emphasizes the importance of observation, creativity, and experimentation in the artistic process.

Main takeaways: mastering basic sketching skills such as anatomy, perspective, and gesture drawing. It may provide insights into using sketches as a tool for visualizing ideas and refining the storytelling aspects of an animation project.
The book also offers tips on creating dynamic and expressive characters through sketches, allowing animators to bring out emotions and personality traits effectively in their animations.

ISBN: 978-1474221443

7. The Animator’s Eye (2012)

"The Animator's Eye" studies the art of observation and how it plays a crucial role in the work of animators. It explores the concept of "seeing" like an animator, training one's eyes to notice and analyze movements, gestures, and expressions in the world around them. The book emphasizes the importance of keen observation as a foundation for creating authentic and believable animations.

Observation is a fundamental skill for animators because they must understand how real-life movements and interactions work to bring characters and scenes to life. By honing their observational abilities, animators can infuse their work with realism, depth, and attention to detail.

This book offers practical exercises and insights to help animators develop their observational skills, from studying human and animal movements to capturing the subtleties of facial expressions. It encourages animators to step away from their desks and immerse themselves in the world, observing and analyzing the actions and emotions of people and nature.

Main takeaways: learning how to observe movement and anatomy accurately, understanding weight and balance in character animation, and recognizing the significance of small details in creating more convincing and compelling animated performances.
The book discusses the importance of maintaining a sketchbook and constantly sketching from observation, fostering a habit of continuous learning and improvement for animators.

ISBN: 978-0240817248

8. Setting the Scene (2011)

"Setting the Scene" studies the art of creating visually stunning and immersive settings for animation. It explores various aspects of designing and crafting environments, backgrounds, and locations that serve as the backdrop for animated stories.

A well-designed setting can enhance the storytelling, set the mood, and create a sense of place and atmosphere for the audience. This book offers valuable insights and techniques for animators, background artists, and anyone involved in the visual aspects of animation. The book covers topics like perspective drawing, color theory, composition, and creating depth and dimension in animated backgrounds. It also explores different artistic styles and how they can be used to evoke specific emotions or convey the tone of a scene.

Main takeaways: learning how to effectively use visual elements to set the mood and tone of an animation, creating a sense of realism or fantasy as required by the story, the importance of continuity and consistency in the design of environments to maintain a cohesive visual narrative.
The book also discusses the use of lighting and shading techniques to add depth and realism to animated scenes, as well as practical tips for efficiently creating detailed and captivating backgrounds using examples from major studios.

ISBN: 978-0811869874

9. Directing the Story (2008)

"Directing the Story" focuses on the art of storytelling in animation from a director's perspective. It explores the role of the director in shaping the narrative, characters, and overall vision of an animated project. The book delves into the creative decision-making process, communication with the team, and the director's responsibilities in bringing a compelling and cohesive story to life on the screen.

Storytelling is the backbone of any successful animated film, and the director plays a pivotal role in guiding that process. This book provides valuable insights into the mindset and approach of a director, helping aspiring directors and animators understand the challenges and opportunities involved in leading an animated project, including the collaborative aspects of directing and working with animators, voice actors, and the production team to bring the vision to fruition.

Main takeaways: learning how to craft a compelling and engaging narrative, understanding the importance of character-driven storytelling, and mastering the use of visual storytelling techniques to convey complex ideas and emotions.
The book emphasizes the significance of clear communication and effective leadership in the animation industry, guiding readers on how to work with a team to achieve a unified vision for the project.

ISBN: 978-0240810768

10. Creativity, Inc. (2014)

"Creativity, Inc." is a book written by Ed Catmull, one of the co-founders of Pixar Animation Studios. The biography delves into the journey of Pixar and provides valuable insights into the company's creative process and the principles that have contributed to its success as a leading animation studio.

"Creativity, Inc." offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Pixar, a studio renowned for producing critically acclaimed and beloved animated films. Ed Catmull shares his experiences, challenges, and triumphs in building and sustaining a culture of creativity and innovation within the company.

The book covers topics like the importance of fostering a creative and open work environment, the significance of collaboration and constructive feedback in the creative process, and the value of embracing risk and failure as opportunities for growth.

Main takeaways: The emphasis on creating a culture where creativity can thrive. Catmull shares valuable lessons on how to cultivate an environment that encourages creativity, where artists and storytellers feel empowered to take risks and push boundaries.
The book highlights the significance of embracing the iterative process of filmmaking, where ideas are constantly refined and improved upon through collaboration and feedback. This approach allows for the creation of high-quality animated films that resonate with audiences on both an emotional and artistic level.
"Creativity, Inc." may provide insights into effective leadership and management in a creative industry, demonstrating how to balance the needs of the artists and the business aspects of running a successful animation studio.

ISBN: 978-0812993011


The animation industry evolves at a rapid pace, but these classic books will remain relevant for more years to come. Whether you want to learn more about the technical or managerial aspects of animation projects, there are more books out there that we haven't covered: make sure to send us your recommendations!

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