Monday, November 15, 2010

Essential Reading List for Animation

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption=" "]Essential Reading List for Animation[/caption]

My dream has always been to tell stories through animation. As an artist and animator, I've been mostly self-taught. The following are a list of books that I've found particularly helpful to me over the years. Hopefully they will be helpful to you too!

Highly Recommended:

by Robert McKee.
Link: Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
Of all the literature on story writing, this is the absolute best. Of all the books I recommend, this one I recommend the most. It tells you what goes into writing a great story. And it can't be read just once. I've read it at least three times and each time I feel I have a deeper understanding of story. a MUST-READ!

Drawing the Head and Figure
by Jack Hamm
Link: Drawing the Head and Figure (Perigee)
This is a great book for learning human anatomy better. The drawings are fantastic. I went through cover to cover and copied all (well most) of the examples from the book. This book focus on the overall shapes and outline of the human figure, more than the specific muscles.

Anatomy for the Artist
by Jenö Barcsay
Link: Anatomy For The Artist
This is another great book on anatomy. This book, unlike the previous one, focuses more on bones, muscles, etc. They go great in combination. I've drawn from this book a lot as well. And not just once. Many times!

Dynamic Figure Drawing
By Burne Hogarth
Link:Dynamic Figure Drawing
Another anatomy book. I prefer the other two, but this one is also great. It breaks down the shapes that constitute the human body and manipulates them in all different poses and perspectives.

The Illusion of Life
by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas
Link:The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation
A classic. Fascinating history of the Disney process. Very inspirational and full of great advice. Your animation education is not complete without it.

The Animator's Survival Kit
by Richard Williams
Link: The Animator's Survival Kit--Revised Edition: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators
This book breaks down the actual process of animating a character. Another classic. A must-read for animators.

Notes by Walt Stanchfield
Link: available online! Read now!
Walt Stanchfield was called in by Walt Disney to help teach the new animation staff to become better artists and animators. There is a lot of material to go over, but its all wonderful. And it's available online! I highly recommend reading these notes. Walt talks about how to create drawings that tell a story, which is what its all about, right?

Also Wonderful:

Any book of paintings by Oga Kazuo.
Especially: this one.
Oga Kazuo's work is stunning. He has been working for Studio Ghibli doing background art for many years. I learn a lot just by staring at his paintings. I try to replicate his paintings in Painter for practice. I don't know how hard it is to get his books ... I bought mine while I was in Japan.

Starting Point
by Hayao Miyazaki
Link: Starting Point: 1979-1996
This book is a collection of essays by Hayao Miyazaki. He talks about his early experiences in animation, his work and what it means to him. It's very inspirational. He also talks about the animation industry in Japan, which I found very interesting.

Art of Princess Mononoke
by Miramax and Mark Schilling
Link: Princess Mononoke
I saw this book in Barnes and Noble when I was in high school ... and it changed my life! This was before I even heard of Princess Mononoke. I was just blown away by the visuals. It was my first time really seeing something that was so profoundly different from the Disney animation that I had grown up with. The book has a lot of production stills from the movie, but also has tons of watercolor sketches by Miyazaki himself. It also has lots of big pictures of paintings by Oga Kazuo. A great book!

Art of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Art of the Lion King
I'm having a hard time finding the original, full size versions of these books online. These are also great "art of" books that tell you a lot about the Disney animation process. Great for thinking about how your portfolio should look when applying for a job!

Any book of photographs by Eadweard Muybridge
Link: Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge is famous for taking black and white pictures of people and animals in motion. For an animator, these are a great way to study locomotion.

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