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The essential book for animators
on 31 July 2010
Ask pretty much any animator which book they recommend for the beginning animator (or even an experienced one) and they will tell you Richard Williams, The Animator's Survival Kit. This enormous (340 pages and bigger than A4) book starts with the basics, the bouncing ball, and moves right through to complex walk and run cycles. Other books on animation technique may describe the basic walk cycle and then have a page or two describing variations but Richard Williams has no less than seventy five pages on the walk cycle alone. He goes into: the basic cycle, weight, tempo, how to add character and emotion and sneaks, amongst other things. Other topics covered by this book include perspective, runs and jumps, breaking down animation, weight and pressure, anticipation, timing, dialogue and animal action. The version I'm reviewing is the original edition where the animal action section is quite short. I believe that the "Expanded Edition" had more in this section, getting deeper into animal walks and runs.
While this book is written for 2D animators the techniques are applicable to 3D, stop motion or any other kind of animation. While the style of the drawings or the handwritten style of the text may not be to everybody's taste, I think they add a personal touch to the book. I'm a 3D animator and I refer to this book all the time, it's my animation bible you might say. He goes into so much detail on every aspect of animating a character, illustrating each point with sequences of images and diagrams, that you can't help but learn something new every time you even just flick through it.
If you're going to buy any book on animation, make sure it's this one!