Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

Animation is an enthralling and adaptable art medium that can bring any tale, character, or concept to life. You must learn from the greatest if you want to produce your own animated films, games, or web series, or simply enhance your talents and expertise.

As a result, we’ve produced a list of ten must-have animation books that will inspire and educate you on the concepts, practices, and history of animation.

These publications are appropriate for both beginners and specialists, and they cover a wide range of topics, including character design and acting, as well as storytelling and software. Here are some top animation books to read:

Starting Point, 1979-1996

Customer Rating: 4.8/5

This animation textbook has numerous interviews, as well as portions of his youth. It’s clear to trace his influences in them, which resulted in early classics like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro.

Miyazaki, like many of us, began as a basic animator with a dream and ambitions.

He tells us about his journey from the ranks of a simple animator to the global legend we now identify with an animated film.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

The unique aspect of Miyazaki’s vision is his obsession with childhood and praising your dreams, which shines through in this book and throughout his animation.

While other books on the list will show you valuable skills used by animation professionals, this animation book will show you the inner workings of a creative mind feeling suffocated in his job and his route out.

Cartoon Animation

Customer Rating: 4.8/5

Preston Blair’s handbook, published in 1994, is an outdated but incredibly helpful resource for budding animators. This may be the best animation book, aside from Animators Survival Kit.

Preston Blair worked for Disney and MGM, animating scenes from Fantasia, including the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Dance of the Hours, Bambi, and Pinocchio.

He worked throughout the Golden Age of animation, which is thought to have lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. These pivotal decades gave us some of our favorite masterpieces, some of which feature Blair’s animation.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

Blair describes his unique method of animating cartoons in the book.

You can learn techniques from the man who created Droopy Dog and the Flintstones. Blair died a year after the book was published, and I’m grateful he shared his knowledge before he died.

Acting for Animators 4

Customer Rating: 4.8/5

“In order to be funny, you have to touch somebody’s heart.”

This animation book by Ed Hooks, published in 2017, is a how-to guide on not just animating but also incorporating a vital part that emotion and intention both have on the animation process, culminating in your finished output.

This is an exceptionally helpful animation textbook in my opinion since it forces you to think carefully about your animation rather than simply putting it on paper.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

What does your character believe?

What motivates your character to perform an action?

These are all essential concerns addressed in this animation book.

I enjoy how the emphasis is on the “little things,” such as facial emotions and subtle nuances in a character’s movement, which gives the character a life of its own rather than leaving it flat.

Hooks’ Acting for Animators series has reached its fourth installment. He’s an excellent novelist and acting coach, and he’s even given a masterclass on the subject.

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

Customer Rating: 4.9/5

“I definitely believe that we cannot do fantastic things based on reality unless we first understand reality.”

Buckle up, because you’re about to be taught by the masters. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were two of Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” the original core of Disney animators that produced some of the most recognizable Disney characters and films. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Pinocchio were all animated by Thomas and Johnston.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

This novel was published in 1981, the same year that both men collaborated on The Fox and the Hound. In this animation book, Thomas and Johnston demonstrate how they transformed Walt Disney Studios into not only a powerhouse in animation but also the gold standard in the field.

The manner they go about showing is a terrific element of this book; they make it easily accessible without being complex or using jargon. They devised the 12 laws of animation, which highlighted the need for figures to look realistic while also preserving their essence as animations.

Timing for Animation

Customer Rating: 4.7/5

Timing for Animation, published the same year as Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, advises the animator in essential areas on how to properly frame your animations.

As the title suggests, timing is critical. Allowing enough space for your animation, leveraging the length of a drawing,’ stretch and squash,’ and other fantastic approaches.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

Both John Halas and Harold Whitaker were well-known animators. John Halas and his wife Joy Batchelor founded the animation studio ‘Halas and Bachelor’ in the United Kingdom, where they produced many animated films.

They collaborated on films such as the 1954 version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (the first animated feature film in England), with Harold Whitaker on the odd musical Heavy Metal in 1981. Another aspect of the book is its straightforward, no-nonsense tone.

Do you want to study the finer points of animation? This is an excellent choice for an animation book.

Character Animation Crash Course!

Customer Rating: 4.8/5

This book was published in 2008 by Eric Goldberg. His unique animation styles may be seen in films such as The Princess and the Frog, Wreck-It Ralph, and Hercules.

My personal favorite Disney film is Aladdin, so I owe a huge thank you to Eric Goldberg, who was the brain behind the Genie’s animation.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

When I learned about his background, I realized this was an animation textbook I needed to keep an eye out for. The book, like Aladdin’s Genie, focuses on strong character personalities and how to make them ‘jump’ off the page.

How do you make your persona appealing and relatable to the audience?

Eric Goldberg will demonstrate the masterworks in his distinctive flair. Eric Goldberg’s tone in the book is funny, engaging, and lighthearted, making it an easy read and much easier to pick up useful animation methods.

Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building

Customer Rating: 4.6/5

“Whether traditional or modern, one cannot ignore the historical development of Japanese art forms when exploring the aesthetic, performing, and ideological frameworks of Japanese animation.”

Are you an anime lover who isn’t interested in Disney or Western animation? I have the book for you. It’s a book published in 2010 about the inner workings of Eastern culture and its relationship with anime. It’s more of a history than a travel guide.

Best Animation Books by the Greatest Animators of All Time

However, I believe that a solid historical basis is essential for understanding what you’re going to depict.

Knowing the historical history of anime will undoubtedly offer you an advantage when sketching your animations, as you will be adding the gravity of decades of animation history behind each pencil stroke.

Tze-Yue Hu interviews expert anime animators and conducts an in-depth examination of the origins of anime, employing linguistics and Japanese history from World War II onward.

You could easily finish this book in one sitting; it’s a quick read that will educate you not just in the forms you know and love, but also in a deeper, philosophical understanding of art as we know it.


These are some of the best animation books to read for every budding animator. They will teach you the fundamentals and advanced abilities of animation, as well as inspire you with their works and knowledge. These books can help you reach your goals and release your creativity whether you want to animate for fun or for a career. Have fun animating!

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