Level up! Now that you have made it passed the beginner stage... what next? What books do you choose to progress your skills and learning further? The next set of books will help you.
Walt Disney Studios: The Archive Series - this series of books might take a while to collect, as you need to own all four and they aren't cheap; I own three, at the moment, and hope to get the last in the series soon. I will say, these books cover a lot about the pipeline of animation from story, design, layout and Animation. And you don't need to read a thing... except, of course, the introductions written by John Lasseter; which is only a page or two long, and I will say before flicking through the pages read those introductions first. The pictures in these books will blow your mind!
The Writer's Journey: Myth Structure For Writers, Christopher Vogler - yeah, this one isn't an animation book, but has come in very useful over the years and still is by my side. As animator's, directors and filmmakers it is important to know how to tell a story and how to tell it well... Vogler takes influence from another resource of books that innovated storytelling, from the creator of the Hero's Journey Joseph Campbell's The Hero with A Thousand faces and The Hero's Journey.
The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques and Inspiration from Disney's Great Animators, By Andreas Deja - I got this book recently, and it was a fantastic read I loved it! It explores the works of the Nine Old Men, individually, and has great tips on their methods and how they structured their animation shots. Wish I could have been alive to see that happen.. but this book is close enough.
They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age (The 1930s), by Didier Ghez - This book is awesome if you want to learn more about your animation history, but this series this one is the first and the rest are still to be published. With amazing never before seen sketches by the artists forgotten in the golden age of animation, finally, resurface through this book. Like the Nine Old Men book, the chapters address each artist's work individually. Oh gosh, the pictures in this one are unbelievable and so cool!!! What imaginations these people had. The book also gives an insight of their lives and how they came to work at the Disney studios, which for me when I was on placement came to very useful - one reason was an example of a job application letter one artist wrote to Disney.
Harry Potter: From Page To Screen Complete Filmmaking Journey - honestly this book is so huge that I haven't read it entirely, but, the images are so incredibly inspirational. Plus it's a heavy book too... where do I sit comfortably to read it! This one isn't entirely focused on animation, though there are some amazing images of how they made the special effects and creature designs which you just have to see. There is a lot of costumes and set design photographs to look at while the book explains the ideas and use of the scenes created for the film. It covers all eight films and then characters; then finally the props.
Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen, by Steven D. Katz - this book is a good one for both animation and film, and if you want to tell a story you need to know how to tell one visually.
The Art of Ray Harryhausen, by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton - Ray Harryhausen was a genius and his movies are phenomenal achievements that have inspired both animation and film for ages now. The book looks at his life and the masterpieces created by Harryhausen, and it's written by the main man himself. (Funny story: I think someone bought me the same book one Christmas, so, I have two versions of this book, another title for it is Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, both books cover the same content... which isn't a big deal to me because I usually buy two version of books any, if they have different illustration covers. One I like to preserve the other I use a lot). Also one of the books has a foreword by Peter Jackson and the other book has a foreword by Ray Harryhausen.
Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler - I've had this book for ages, I bought it on a trip to Disney World Florida and I've loved it ever since; it's a reminder to me and a big inspiration. It covers the entire life and career of Walt Disney, and it is so informative in its research, definitely an incredible read to learn the history of animation's biggest innovator. You probably think you already know Walt Disney's life story from documentaries... but in fact... you don't until you read this book. It covers the trials and tribulations of his success story - the ups and downs - in great detail. It will inspire you!
I will stop here for now and continue with more books in another post. What I've learned when it comes to searching for books on animation, is that you don't need read only the how-to books or the making-of books; any form of a book focused on animation or not, has something truly worthwhile to read and you learn so much from them. Knowing what came before helps to inspire and motivate our own projects and creativity is the first step to being original. So, like my lecturers tell me (all the time), read everything and anything you can get your hands on!
I hope this post will inspire and interest anyone who reads it. Definitely give these books as try and take note of what you learn from them. I hope you enjoy! :)