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GET YOUR STORY IN MOTION WITH THESE TOP 5 MUST-HAVE READS… 

The Animation Industry can be an over-whelming place to be, especially if you don’t know where to start. Truthfully, there are many different approaches, but if you want to get that first foot on the animation ladder, here are 5 must-have reads that will give you the best start!

Make sure to check out the video to accompany this article on the MIC Youtube channel here!

Animators Survival Kit

1. THE ANIMATORS SURVIVAL KIT – BY RICHARD WILLIAMS

This was my bible as a student of animation which guides you through all of the core principals of animation. Richard takes you through considerations such as walk-cycles, movement, timing, weight, emotion and provides plenty of accompanying pictures to demonstrate.

Within this survival kit, there are even examples you can follow along with, such as animated run-cycles and performance 

guides for both people and animals. This particular book delivers a great, raw understanding of the principles of animation and lays the groundwork for later development.

2. THE ILLUSION OF LIFE – BY FRANK THOMAS AND OLLIE JOHNSTON

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were two of Disney’s original “9 Old Men”, Disney’s first ‘Master Animators’ who started out with Walt and stayed all the way into the 80’s. These two animators have a huge resulting insight into how early Disney operated in the early birth of modern animation, how it became great, and they share these secrets in this book. But ‘The Illusion of Life’ also gives a fantastic insight their working practices in a way you

 can learn from. They explain how characters are developed to look right, how to animate them in a way that reflects the personality, as well as creating the atmosphere for a scene through artwork stylising and storytelling, and much, much more. 

As an added bonus, in amongst the history, this book is littered with beautiful original Disney artwork and wonderful concept pieces.

Being not just a great tool to learn from, but an entertaining read too, this is one of my favourites and one I could recommend if you are even mildly interested in animation.

Acting for Animators

3. ACTING FOR ANIMATORS – BY ED HOOKS

A lot of novice animators focus too much on just action rather than the performance of a character. This is understandable as most animation books provide the principles of movement, walk-cycles, run-cycles, etc. without much focus on the motivation behind those actions.

What ‘Acting for Animators’ provides are the principles of acting theory and how that applies to an animated performance. Ed Hooks takes you through the characters’ motivation, expression, scene construction, storytelling…and yes… movement too. These principles are explained so rather than approaching a design thinking “This character walks from A to B”, You begin to train yourself into thinking about why the character is walking from A to B, what his intended purpose is when he gets there, what he was doing before, what he will do afterwards and what he is feeling. This allows you to create that true representation of character and not just a one-dimensional set of actions determined by the storyboard.

4. A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CHARACTER CREATION IN MAYA – BY JAHIRUL AMIN

Beginners Guide to Maya

Jahirul (Jay) was a former demonstrator of ours at Bournemouth University, who is now a 3D Trainer at Double Negative. This book takes you through a piece of animation software called Maya – an industry staple of 3D packages. This software gets taught on University courses and is something that you might very well use in the industry.

Jay takes you through basic anatomy, modelling, texturing, rigging and creating the controls for the character, from the design right through to being able to animate. This can be a very complicated process which Jay makes look easy and logical. When you get to the end of this process you understand every aspect of how it all links together, which is a great start in creating characters in Maya and a CG 3D environment.

Digital Painting

5. DIGITAL PAINTING TECHNIQUES – BY 3D TOTAL

My last choice here is part of the Digital Art Master Series by 3D Total. This takes you through the art of digital painting and is perfect for anyone wanting to get into concept art, design or matte painting. 

The main tools focused on with this book is utilising artistic software such as Photoshop with Graphics Tablets. It teaches you about painting in layers, shadows, blending, lighting, composition, texture and more.

Again, you will find step-by-step guides showing how to paint people, portraits, animals, fur, eyes, mouths, backgrounds, props, as well as showing you how to integrate actual photographs into your artwork! There are some stunning examples included to inspire you as well as how to re-create that artwork.

And there we have it – the top 5 books that we recommend here at MIC to get you on the road to becoming an animator! Let us know in the comments which books you’ve found most useful to learn about animation, and for those of you out there who want to become more involved with animation and want to discuss further, please visit www.movingimagecreations.com and send us your questions!


In the meantime – “Get Your Story In Motion!”