Best-Selling Animation Books on Routledge

Animation Books

We've put together an Animators survival kit for those at all levels of animation study. Whether you want to create and conceptualize a cartoon character or delve into the intricate world of stop-motion, explore animation history and animated storytelling through the eyes of some of the world's most acclaimed animation experts, whether a Disney animator, an expert cartoonist, or even a professional animator from the animated film industry. Routledge have you covered.

Studying the best animation books will not only educate you in the skill of animation, drawing, and animation film, but it will also inject a lot of fun into learning. These animation books will inspire both newbies and seasoned animators. Enabling you to learn new techniques that will enhance your animation skills, no matter what level you're at in your learning journey.

If you've been hesitating in pursuing your dream of animating, reading these animation books will push you to finally pick up your sketchbook and make your dreams a reality.

Animation enables people to express their artistic impulses through telling stories and conveying thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ideas in a unique and individualistic way. Animation conquers language barriers and allows people to connect in a way that sometimes isn't possible through traditional communication. Both young and old alike have much to gain from studying, learning, and indulging in the art of animation.

What are the 5 types of animation?

Animation is proving to be a boundless art form that continually evolves. However, most techniques fall into five main types of animation:  

1. Traditional Animation

Traditional animation, also known as cell animation, is the oldest form of animation and requires the animator to draw every single frame by hand to create an animated scene. Typically done on a light table, the animator must hand-draw each frame on paper, which is then photocopied or retraced onto transparent acetate sheets called cels. Next, paint is applied, and each cel is photographed individually to produce an animated sequence. Walt Disney Animation Studios traditionally used this type of cartoon animation when creating most of their early animated film titles, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938), which was the first feature-length film to be produced using cel animation. Cinderella (1950), The Lion King (1994), and many more.

Traditional Animation Book Cover

How to Make Animated Films Tony White's Complete Masterclass on the Traditional Principals of Animation - Become Tony White's personal animation student. Experience many of the teaching techniques of the golden era of Disney and Warner Brothers studios and beyond, all from the comfort of your own home or studio. Tony White's Animation Master Class is uniquely designed to comprehensively cover the core principles of animated movement. This a fantastic animation book for those who want to get an in-depth understanding of animation and drawing. 

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2. 2D Animation

2D animation technique, often referred to as vector-based animation, focuses on creating movement in a 2-dimensional space. Innovations in animation software have enabled 2D animation to be a progressively accessible and popular choice for artists. Unlike cel animation, which requires sketching every frame, artists can significantly reduce production time and costs using software such as Synfig, Opentoonz, Adobe Animate, and Pencil 2D.

 Animation From Concepts and Production - This book explains the creation of animation from concept to production. Instead of focusing on singular aspects of animation production, talented animators can learn to make better films by understanding the process as a whole. Veteran independent filmmaker Hannes Rall teaches you how to develop an animation project from the very start of conceptual exploration through to completed production.

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3. 3D Animation

3D or computer animation refers to creating 3-dimensional moving images in a digital environment and is currently the most commonly used form of animation. The process of 3D animation is vastly different from the traditional style. However, they both require the artist to implement the same principles of movement and composition. The process is usually divided into three primary stages, which are: modeling, layout and animation, and rendering, which each require thorough planning and expertise.

Character Animation Fundamentals Developing Skills for 2D and 3D Character AnimationExpand your animation toolkit and remain competitive in the industry with this leading resource for 2D and 3D character animation techniques. Apply the industry's best practices to your own workflows and develop 2D, 3D and hybrid characters with ease. 

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4. Stop Motion

Stop motion animation is quite similar to traditional animation because it combines a series of still images that are all slightly different to show movement. However, the most significant difference is that stop motion uses photography and captures physical objects. Therefore, artists who produce stop motion take photos of an object or scene and must move the objects very slightly before taking another shot—an incredibly intricate and time-consuming art form. Due to advancements in 3D animation technology, stop motion is less commonly used than it once was. However, many filmmakers, including Tim Burton and Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993), continue to work extensively with stop motion.

Stop Motion Book Cover

Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation - Stop motion animation is a challenging and time-consuming skill that requires patience, adaptability, and a close eye to detail. Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation, 3rd Edition is the essential guide to help stop motion animators overcome these challenges of this highly-skilled craft. Author Susannah Shaw provides a step-by-step guide to creating successful stop motion films.

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5. Motion Graphics

In contrast to the previous animation techniques, motion graphics do not focus on characters or storylines. Instead, this art form focuses on the ability to move graphic elements, shapes, and text. This process is often used in TV commercials, explainer videos, social media, digital marketing campaigns, and animated logos. In addition, the required skillset for the other types of animation doesn't apply to motion graphics because there's no need to mimic body movement or facial expressions. The title sequence of Stephen Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can (2002) is a beautiful example of this style and illustrates how elements like sound, motion, and graphic design can mesh harmoniously to create impact.

Animation From Concepts and Production - Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects Essential and Advanced Techniques - Chris and Trish Meyer have created a series of videos demonstrating how to use their favorite new and enhanced features in After Effects CS5.5. Virtually all of these videos use exercise files from Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (5th Edition for CS5) as their starting point, extending the usefulness of this book for its owners.  

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Animation has come a long way since the early days of production when groundbreaking animators such as Walt Disney mastered the art of Traditional Animation methods, sometimes referred to as Cel Animation. The type of animation you could do back then was comparatively limited to the various types of animation we can create today.  

Today, there are many ways to animate, from CGI animation, which sits under a broader umbrella of work called VFX (Visual Effects), to mechanical animation, often used in product demonstrations.

Why Animation Books?

Many people interested in animation often overlook the importance of classic animation books. Of course, when learning something new, it can be effective first to watch a relevant video. However, did you know that you are more focused when reading? Therefore, you have more content retention over a more extended period when reading than you would if you tried to learn solely through watching videos.  

Here are some of our bestselling animation books and why you need them:

Timing for Animation Book Cover

Timing for Animation has been one of the pillars of animation since it was first published in 1981. Now, this 40th-anniversary edition captures the focus of the original and enhances this new edition with fresh images, techniques, and advice from world-renowned animators. Not only does the text explore timing in traditional animation, but also timing in digital works. Vibrant illustrations and clear directions line the pages to help depict the various methods and procedures to bring your animation to life.  

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Producing Animation 3e Book Cover

Producing Animation is a clear and comprehensive guide to a dynamic industry. Already a relied-upon resource by professionals and students alike, this book covers the process from concept to screen while defining the role of the producer at each phase. The third edition features new content on the latest innovations, plus insights on key topics from industry experts, sidebars on legal matters, as well as case studies on content adaptation and artists' insider production experiences.

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Shop the FORCE collection

FORCE drawing was inspired by animation, yet any artist can use the concepts found in the approach across a range of careers. FORCE Drawing is a unique technique that teaches you to understand what you are looking at and how to better see it. It leads you to illustration from reference and your imagination with great skill and comprehension.

Watch an overview lesson of the fundamentals in FORCE Drawing, taught by co-authors Mike Mattesi and Swendly Benilia.

Using extracts from their new book, The FORCE Companion, they cover FORCE Basics, using visual artwork and examples all the way through, demonstrating the art of Drawing with FORCE and sharing top tricks and tips to improve their pupil's skills. 

The authors teach students that are beginners to the most prolific professionals. Artists can improve their visual and cognitive skills with FORCE Drawing, which will empower them to create more FORCEful, dynamic drawings.

Check out the official FORCE drawing site where students can find online drawing tutorials.