Top 10 Animation Books Every Animator Should Read


Welcome to the mesmerising world of animation expertise! Enjoy our thoughtfully curated list of the “Top 10 Animation Books Every Animator Should Read.” Discover the key skills, principles, and limitless ideas that will propel your animation prowess to new heights. 

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned virtuoso, these essential animation books will open the doors to your creative potential and ignite a symphony of brilliance in your artistic endeavours. Prepare to be captivated by the endless wisdom contained in these literary jewels.

As the animation industry evolves, claiming a net market worth of INR 107 billion by 2022, staying up to date on the newest trends, technologies, and storytelling approaches is imperative. So, whether you’re looking for creative advice on overcoming technical challenges, these animation and VFX books are a must-have for your library. 

Let us start on this creative journey, where imagination knows no limitations, and every page becomes an experience of aesthetic enlightenment and animated visions.

Top 10 Animation Books Every Animator Should Read

If you’re an aspiring animator wishing to broaden your knowledge and abilities, these leading animation and visual effects books will ensure that your creativity finds the right path to claim massive growth!

1. Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair

Cartoon Animation first appeared in 1994. Since then, it has served as a valuable resource for cartoon-style animation, particularly animal animation.

This classic animation book teaches the principles of character design and animation. It includes step-by-step tutorials and drawing guidance for producing vivid and expressive cartoon characters.

Over the years, “Cartoon Animation” has been a basic resource for numerous animators. It offers simple and comprehensive instructions on character building and movement, making it a good choice for nascent and skilled animators.

2. Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas

Released in 1981, Timing for Animation addresses how timing influences the emotion and impact of animated scenes and instructs artists on how to masterfully control the speed of their work. As the title implies, timing is essential. Using the length of a drawing, “stretch and squash,” and other fantastic techniques to give your animation plenty of space.

Timing is an important aspect of animation, and this book presents a clear and practical approach to comprehending and effectively executing it. It’s a great resource for animators looking to improve the rhythm and appeal of their work.

3. The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

The Illusion of Life is an exemplary animation book that offers insight into the creation of the world’s most renowned animation giant Walt Disney Studios, not only as a powerhouse in animation but also as the gold standard in the field.

This book appears in Disney animation’s history and the concepts that have shaped its distinctive characters and stories. It delves into the 12 animation principles, examining how these concepts bring characters to life and produce distinctive animation.

“The Illusion of Life” is a trove of wisdom and information written by two of Disney’s “Nine Old Men” animators. It provides not only insights into Disney’s animation legacy but also timeless concepts relevant to all types of animation.

4. The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

This famous book offers a thorough guide to animation ideas and techniques, covering everything from fundamental animation principles to complex character animation. It contains step-by-step tutorials, sketches, and pictures to assist animators in understanding motion mechanics and creating more attractive animations.

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“The Animator’s Survival Kit” is widely recognised as one of the most valuable materials available to animators of all levels. Richard Williams, an Academy Award-winning animator, imparts his knowledge and experience, making this book a must-have for any animator.

5. Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes by Walt Stanchfield

There are a lot of animation books available, but this two-volume set, Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes, is one of the greatest for animators wishing to properly refine their technique.

It’s a compilation of Disney animator Walt Stanchfield’s lectures, where Walt offers the most crucial skills in animating characters with vitality and gestures in the two volumes.

This book includes a series of sketching activities and insights into the animation process compiled from the notes of Walt Stanchfield’s animation classes at Disney. It covers various topics such as motion drawing, character design, and drawing narrative.

It provides animators with practical instruction, drawing hints, and artistic wisdom to encourage them to improve their talents and artistic vision.

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6. Animation for Beginners by Morr Meroz

Animation for Beginners is an excellent resource for people who want to become animators but are new to the industry. This book is a detailed introduction for budding creators, aiming to strengthen their fundamentals and principles on creating a showreel, constructing a portfolio and landing an animation job.

It includes a hardware and software guide for 2D, 3D, and stop-motion animation, as well as a list of the greatest animation schools in the world and animation literature that every animator should read.

Morr Meroz, the book’s author, is an animator/filmmaker residing in New York City. He began by creating a YouTube teaching channel, swiftly leading to the establishment of Bloop Animation Studios, where Meroz shares his work and bets practices with a large following of animators.

7. Animated Performance: Bringing Imaginary Animal, Human and Fantasy Characters to Life by Nancy Beiman

This book focuses on animating non-realistic characters such as animals, creatures, and fantasy beings. It discusses how to give these characters realistic and emotional performances.

“Animated Performance” teaches animators how to animate non-human characters, which is crucial for animators working on projects with a wide range of inventive characters.

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8. Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques for Live Action and Animation” by Francis Glebas

Animation is more than crafting characters, and this book explores that exact, unexplored realm of storytelling and direction. Many storytelling strategies, including pacing and cutscenes, are used in Directing the Story. It also covers tale structure, themes, and how to build relatable characters.

This book delves into the art of storytelling and how to convey narratives successfully through animation. It includes strategies for storyboarding, shot composition, and visual effects.

“Directing the Story” is useful for animators who want to learn about storyboarding and directing. It provides useful guidance on how to construct and arrange storylines in order to make intriguing and emotionally engaging animation.

9. The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns

The teachings of the Win Without Pitching Manifesto cause animators to reconsider their commercial practises and refocus their efforts. It outlines twelve measures that animation business owners can take to stand out from the crowd and obtain animation clients.

This book encourages owners of creative agencies and advertising firms to plan how their animation services will be purchased and marketed, educating animation aspirants on the significance of its commercial aspect. 

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10. Animation Methods: Rigging Made Easy by David Rodriguez

As one of the best resources on rigging for animation, ‘Animation Methods’ gives animators an in-depth understanding of character rigging using the Maya software. This thorough book covers rigging principles, making it an excellent resource for animators looking to produce expressive and convincing character movements.

This user-friendly book that simplifies the complicated concept of rigging is highly recommended for blooming 3D animators. Furthermore, the book includes practical exercises and step-by-step instructions to assist readers in building a solid foundation in character rigging from start to finish. 

These hands-on activities allow students to improve their skills and better grasp the rigging process, making it an excellent resource for anyone aspiring to be a 3D animation professional.

How Can These Books Help Any Animator?

These animator books can benefit any animator, regardless of skill level or experience, since they address key principles, techniques, and creative approaches necessary for making high-quality animations. Here are some of the reasons why these books are useful for animators:

Inspiration: These books contain magnificent artwork and animations created by well-known artists, serving as a source of inspiration for animators and encouraging them to try out new styles, methods, and storytelling techniques.

Practical Instructions: Step-by-step directions, drawing examples, and exercises are frequently included in the books, making it easier for animators to apply the concepts directly to their work. 

Legacy of Animation Masters: Many of these publications are written by well-known animators who have made important contributions to the animation business. Animators can tap into the wisdom of animation legends by studying their lessons and learning from their achievements and failures.


With the Indian animation industry consistently striving for growth, relevant organisations and studios are on the lookout for exceptional creatives, simultaneously fueling the market demand

Whether you are a beginner looking for a firm foundation in animation or an established professional aiming to improve your craft, our list of top ten insightful reads will help you with constant references and sources of motivation to create compelling and engaging animations!

upGrad’s Full Stack Software Development Bootcamp is perfect for professionals looking to upskill or transition from their current roles. The course offers project-based learning and helps prepare Java microservices interview questions to help aspirants secure their dream job.


Why is reading animation books important for animators?

Animators should read animation books since they provide animation aspirants with the in-demand best practices and skill development. Specialisation is another aspect that comes with consistent reading, further leading animators to achieve subject expertise.

What are the key topics covered in these animation books?

Key subjects covered in animation books include animation concepts, character design, rigging, timing, pacing, storytelling, software and tools, acting, concept art, special effects, various animation mediums, and industry insights. These subjects give animators a well-rounded education that allows them to create appealing and diverse cartoons.

Do these animation books include practical exercises or tutorials to improve animation skills?

Yes, many animation books incorporate tasks and tutorials to assist animators in improving their talents. These hands-on learning experiences enable animators to apply the concepts presented in the book directly to their own projects, boosting skill growth and self-confidence.

Can you suggest animation books that explore the relationship between animation and other art forms?

Here are some animation books that discuss the relationship between animation and other types of art: The Animator's Sketchbook by Tony White, Character Mentor by Tom Bancroft, Creating 3D Game Art for the iPhone with Unity by Wes McDermott, and The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings by Emily Haynes.

Can reading animation books help animators develop their own unique style and voice?

Reading animation books exposes animators to a variety of aesthetic methods, storytelling tactics, and animation styles, instilling a desire to establish their distinct style and voice. Experimentation, practice, and inspiration from different art forms all contribute to their creative expression.

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