Best Animation Books - From Disney to Aardman

Animation is one of the most exciting film styles and has really come a long way in the last century. Over this time, some amazing animation studios have taken centre stage including Disney, Dreamworks and Aardman. In our range of brilliant animation books, we have companion books on these top studios and guides for you to try working with animation yourself. From hand-drawn to stop-motion to CGI, animation has appeared in many forms and continues to be one of the most interesting forms of filmmaking.

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Books on Disney Animation:

A Disney Sketchbook

Ken Shue

A Disney Sketchbook is a brilliant tribute to Disney's animated films as it moves through the designs and illustrations of key characters in the studio's history. The idea behind the book is an imagined sketchbook passed down through all the most significant Disney animators with each contributing their illustrations to it as they go along. The book is filled with illustrations of characters from the studio's most well-known films and makes a wonderful present for Disney fans and those looking to learn to draw cartoons alike.

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The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques, and Inspiration from Disney's Greatest Animators

Andreas Deja

If you are seeking a guide to teach you how to draw like a top Disney animator, Andreas Deja's book is a great choice. He brings together Walt Disney's team of core animators or his 'Nine Old Men' as he called them with analyses and information on each of their contributions to Disney history. These €'Nine Old Men' are known for the 12 basic principles of animation and Andreas includes drawings and insights into each of their techniques as animators for you to learn from yourself in your own animation projects. And, as Andreas Deja is a Disney master animator himself, this book really does allow you learn from the experts.

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Book on Dreamworks Animation:

The Art of Dreamworks Animation

Ramin Zahed

This book is the perfect companion for anyone who appreciates the skill behind Dreamworks' best-loved films, including Shrek, Prince of Egypt, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. Digging into the Dreamworks archives, the book features concept art and character sketches rarely seen by the public. With essays and commentaries from some of the most influential directors and artists to have worked with Dreamworks, no stone is unturned in exploring the fascinating history and production of these unforgettable films.

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Book on Aardman Animation:

Cracking Animation

Peter Lord

This book on the UK's most recognisable animation studio is an absolute must for anyone wanting to work in stop-motion animation. Examining the role of stop-motion in TV and film, this book is both a guide on how to create stop-motion animation and a study into the success of this studio. This book is just as interesting and unique as the studio the book is about.

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Now that you've had a chance to study some of the best in the business, take a look at our animation guides so that you can become just as amazing at animation as them:

The Animator's Eye

Francis Glebas

Focusing on how to become an expert visual storyteller, this brilliant guide from a former Disney animator is great for learning all about the different aspects needed to create a great animated feature, from how to use colour to how to work with cartoon physics.

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The Animator's Survival Kit

Richard E. Williams

Richard E. Williams has been working in animation for nearly 50 years and in that time he has been witness to many changes in animation styles, the biggest change being the shift from hand-drawn to computer-generated animation. After having taught countless masterclasses on the topic, Richard brings his expertise to you in this excellent animation guide, perfect for those just starting out or for long-time animators alike.

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To find more brilliant animation guides for you to explore, take a look through our full range of animation books.

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    Animation is one of the hottest areas of filmmaking today and the master animator who bridges the old generation and the new is Richard Williams. During his nearly fifty years in the business, Williams has been one of the true innovators, winning three Academy Awards and serving as the link between Disney's golden age of animation by hand and the new computer animation exemplified by the films from Pixar.Perhaps even more important, though, has been his dedication in passing along his knowledge to a new generation of animators. In this book, based on his sold-out master classes in the United States and across Europe, Williams provides the underlying principles of animation that every animator from beginner to expert, classic animator to computer-animation whiz needs. He illustrates his points with hundreds of drawings, distilling the secrets of the masters into a working system. In this revised edition, he expands upon and illuminates more difficult areas of animation, such as animal action and gaits and the correct use of live action, to help animators push the medium in new directions."
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    Aardman Animations are, unquestionably, one of the biggest success stories in animated films: their masterpieces include Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep, as well as much-loved characters such as Morph. Cracking Animation is entertaining, inspiring and essential reading for all Aardman enthusiasts, students of animation or anyone who wants to try making an animated film. This revised edition includes two new chapters. Chapter 7 looks in depth at the development and teamwork involved in a major animated film or television production, using The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! as an exemplar, and Chapter 8 presents exclusive behind-the-scenes insights into the making of Aardman's most recent feature film, Shaun the Sheep the Movie. Packed with practical, fully illustrated and step-by-step descriptions of all the elements involved, this is quite simply the best publication on stop-motion animation.
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    Learn from the men who changed animation forever. Walt Disney's team of core animators, who he affectionately call his "Nine Old Men," were known for creating Disney's most famous works, as well as refining the 12 basic principles of animation. Follow master animator and Disney legend Andreas Deja as he takes you through the minds and works of these notable animators. An apprentice to the Nine Old Men himself, Deja gives special attention to each animator and provides a thoughtful analysis on their techniques that include figure drawing, acting, story structure, and execution. The in-depth analysis of each animator's work will allow you to refine your approach to character animation. Rare sequential drawings from the Disney archives also give you unprecedented access and insight into the most creative minds that changed the course of animation. * Instruction and analysis on the works of each of the Nine Old Men broaden your creative choices and approaches to character animation * Original drawings, some never-before-seen by the public are explored in depth, giving you behind-the-scenes access into Disney animation history * Gain first-hand insight into the foundation of timeless characters and scenes from some of Disney's most memorable feature and short films
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    Imagine if one sketchbook had been passed down through the decades from one Disney animator to the next, with each one making a contribution before leaving it in the talented hands of another artist. That idea was the inspiration for A Disney Sketchbook. The drawings contained within it represent the entire range of animation development, from the origin of ideas to fully conceived characters, and display the dedication that goes into defining the expressions and body language of each character. This is a beautiful illustrated history of Walt Disney animation.
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    The Art of DreamWorks Animation marks the studio's twentieth anniversary and pays homage to the animators who brought iconic characters like Shrek and Po to life. Brimming with concept art, pre-production designs and character sketches, the book celebrates the art of animation and offers unprecedented behind-the-scenes access into the DreamWorks Animation archive. Essays by DreamWorks visionaries such as Spielberg and Katzenberg provide insider perspectives on the studio's most popular films, as does running commentary from artists and directors on all of DreamWorks thirty projects to date.
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    Enhance your animated features and shorts with this polished guide to channeling your vision and imagination from a former Disney animator and director. Learn how to become a strong visual storyteller through better use of color, volume, shape, shadow, and light - as well as discover how to tap into your imagination and refine your own personal vision. Francis Glebas, the director of Piglet's Big Day, guides you through the animation design process in a way that only years of expertise can provide. Discover how to create unique worlds and compelling characters as well as the difference between real-world and cartoon physics as Francis breaks down animated scenes to show you how and why to layout your animation.