The 5 Best Books for Animators
There’s a saying that goes: get them something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read, that’s why we’re chuffed to announce: NEW FUDGE ONESIES! No… It’s the something to read obviously. If you’re on this page this then there’s probably a special animator in your life that you’d like to treat this festive season (or maybe that special person is you, who are we to judge), well a book is the safest bet you can get, so here are our faves just in time for Santa’s list:
The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard E. Williams –
If you’ve ever animated anything ever, chances are that The Animator’s Survival Kit is hanging out on your bookshelf already, so let’s get this one out of the way right quick. I don’t mean to reduce its impact or skim over it by any means, this is a vital book to the profession and I can’t express how much this book alone has helped to craft the role of the modern animator.
Every review of this baby has got the word ‘definitive’ on it somewhere, what does that tell you?! Heck, even university lecturers rely on it as a core text for their courses. What you’ll find inside is a colourfully written manual of basic tips, advanced techniques, general themes and information on various specialisms in the craft. Williams himself is something of a conduit between the old school and the new school of animation, so he’s a cracking (and very relevant) guide for experienced animators as well as those new to this whole lark. As vital as cranberry to turkey, this one.
Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Michael d. Mattesi –
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this book was a Star Wars spinoff the way the author mentions force every few lines. Force is actually a part-philosophical work, part-animation bible which somehow teaches animation principles through the medium of life drawing examples and analysis. The ‘force’ stuff does seem a little cheesy at first but Mattesi uses it as a sort of guiding theme throughout the book which does make it seem much more coherent and pacy.
Packed with powerful, inspiring sketches and thoughtful instructive direction, Force is a perfect motivator for all of those scribblers out there that are looking towards animation as a potential skill to develop.
The Animator’s Sketchbook by Pixar –
Let’s face it, every animator wants to be Pixar. Who wouldn’t? They’re the heavy hitters of this game so they’ve got to be doing a thing or two right. The best way to learn the whys and the wherefores is with this fella. Divided based on the core preproduction stages of Concept, Color, Story, Characters, and Worlds, not only will it provide you with a manageable, compartmentalised space for you to workshop your creative ideas but it gives you tons of blank pages to fill in as and when inspiration strikes! Trust me, it will strike – this book is also stuffed with quotes from some of the most talented artists that Pixar has to offer.
This is sort of a do-it-yourself option in book form – there really is a lot of blank pages for you to fill, but this alongside some hints and gentle direction from Pixar is almost definitely a strong way to motivate yourself to pick up a pencil and let your ideas run.
Stop-motion Animation: Frame by Frame Film-making with Puppets and Models by Barry JC Purves –
To be fair, stop-motion is an internationally renowned form but thanks to the efforts of Aardman Animations, us Brits love stop-motion animation almost as much as we love a hot cuppa. Down at Fudge, we’re no different, making a stop-motion project is on our hit list and Purves has got our back with this book.
As you might imagine, working with models and physical puppets is a whole different kettle of fish than 2D or 3D animation. This book understands how daunting the prospect of learning a whole new set of skills and it does well to teach some of the more complex and specific abilities required such as 3D printing, lighting and set building. There’s a robust few chapters on how to transfer your existing animation skills to stop-motion as well as a detailed outline of some of the stop-motion basics too. If they’re an animator and they love Wallace and Gromit, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects by Isaac Kerlow –
We’ve got a HTC Vive virtual reality headset in the office – yes, it’s awesome and yes, they had to drag me out of it to get me to write this post. What this means is that between swinging around a lightsaber and giggling with glee, we’re working on creative ways to start animating with this revolutionary new technology in mind. Just existing in the virtual 3D space is enough to inspire us to brush up on our 3D computer animation skills so this book has been a godsend.
With a focus on creative development and production-based teaching, Kerlow presents a super easy to follow, practical guide on the entire process of creating a fully rendered animation in 3D. There’s over 700 images jammed into this badboy too so you’ll be learning by example as well as getting a hearty dose of inspiration and reference too!
Well, there you have it, some of the animation books we’ve found useful and enjoyable during our time in the profession. I hope I’ve given you an idea or two for gifts this Christmas! There’s a couple of doorstops in there that’ll keep them busy well into the new year…