Animation 3 min read

Top books to read before starting your Animation degree

Emma Devlin

Emma Devlin posted on


If you’re new to the world of Animation and looking for areas to explore before starting your degree at Escape Studios, take a look at some of our recommended reads!

Although there is not an extensive reading list for our Animation course, “a good book is still a great place to start learning about and exploring the world of character Animation.” - Alex Williams (the Head of Animation at Escape Studios).

1) The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams

The ASK is now the standard textbook for Animators and easily the most comprehensive book available for learning Animation.

You can also buy it as an eBook download which is even better as you can watch the videos to illustrate the examples.  


2) Animation Methods by David Rodriguez

Animation Methods is an excellent book on learning animation in Maya. It is a book that focuses primarily on 3D Character Animation, a step-by-step guide for learning Maya, and the Maya animation tools.

It also has useful sections on how to get into the industry, how to make a great demo reel, and how to get a job in animation. We think this is a very useful companion book to our course.

It is also an unusual book in that it makes extensive use of QR codes - allowing you to use your smartphone to scan the codes and then view a 3D animated clip of the lesson.


3) The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone

The Illusion of Life was written by Disney animation legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone, and represents the accumulation of knowledge of the first "Golden Age" of Disney animation. It's a great read, though it's easy to get lost in the great stories about the early days of animation.

4) Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair

Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair was the first available book on animation, having been in print since the early 1950s, but regularly updated since then. Still full of very useful material.


5) Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg

The Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg is an excellent resource by one of the most talented 2D animators in the world - the man behind the genie in Disney's Aladdin (1992).

6) The Complete Digital Animation Course by Andy Wyatt

The Complete Digital Animation Course by Andy Wyatt is a very useful overall guide to all the processes involved in digital animation and film-making. It’s especially good for the technical bits that older books don't cover.

7) Timing for Animation by Harold Whittaker and John Halas

This book was first written some years ago but was recently updated and edited by former Animation Guild President Tom Sito.

8) Producing Animation by Zahra Dowlatabadi

For anyone interested in understanding the animation pipeline from a producer's point of view, this book is an excellent place to begin.


Putting it into practice

After taking a look at some of the books above, you can also put your ideas into practice by downloading a free version of Maya Autodesk ahead of starting your studies (full versions of all the different industry standard software you’ll need to use will be provided on each workstation at our studios). It’s a great chance to familiarise yourself with the software before being taught by our expert tutors.

Another way you can start preparing ahead is to brush up on your drawing skills.

“Other useful things you can do include going to life drawing classes, and especially filling a sketch book with sketches, doodles and ideas. Being able to express an idea in a simple sketch is still a very useful skill, even in the digital age. We don't expect our students to be brilliant draftsmen, but we do expect you to be able to pick up a pencil and do a sketch - even if it's a crude one. All great ideas begin with a drawing - however simple and basic.” - Alex Williams
Top books to read before starting your Animation degree
Share this