2D Animation Books!?

Hi! I am an amateur animator and am currently getting very serious about improving my animations! I am currently reading “Timing for Animation” by Harold Whitaker and John Halas. It has alot of interesting information on using timing to suggest weight and force and gives alot of nice drawing examples of simple animations such as a kicking donkey, a bouncing ball and splashing water to name a few! I am looking to bone up my animation skills! What are the top ten books on 2D animation? Can anybody recommend any websites, tutorials or books that helped them create better animations with Toon Boom Studio. I was reading a book called “Animators Survival Kit” by Richard Williams who is the animator behind “Who Frame Rodger Rabbit” but I kind of gave up half way through reading it. That was a beast of a book…lol :)! I was doing stop-motion animation primarily back then and now I have decided to pick up 2D animation with Toon Boom Studio. Would anybody suggest having a look at this book again? Or perhaps maybe there are better books? Thanks in advance for your replies people!

In my experience, Timing For Animation, The Illusion of Life, Richard Williams/Preston Blair and maybe Acting for Animators is all you’ll need.

Just be aware that the best teacher is many hours of practice and determination to improve your own work. Ten books on animation will repeat themselves a great deal, so it’s best to put them down and pick up your pencil and start drawing.

I’ve noticed that the best animators are never satisfied with their own animation and move on to only to keep on schedule and budget. I’m hoping I can be that disgusted with my own work at that kind of high calibre one day. If you keep pushing with everything you do, just like the animators you aspire to, you’re well on your way.

Good luck!

Try ‘The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation’ by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. It’s a beautiful book. I think you can get it on Amazon.

I have the animators survival guide and i think its good but if you read it before and didnt like it, i dunno, but it does have a lot of useful information in it anyway,


Here are only a few I would highly recommend:

The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair

The Animator’s Workbook by Tony White

The Illusion of Life by Disney Animation

Animation from Script to Screen by Shamus Culhane

Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas

How to Draw by Walter Foster


Stickybullseye…I guess you have a point! Maybe I will just have to be a bit more patient and practice and experiment. I do find getting the right body proportions of characters to be somewhat of an effort though! Particularly when characters are moving! Are there any books that explain this? Often I find it difficult really to judge realistic body proportions! I find myself lengthening a characters legs or arms because they are too small or too large! Anybody got any advice?

This is what my betters tell me:

One way around this is to have a model sheet on hand and complete a handful of poses for your scene using that as a guide for proportion. If you’re more of a straight ahead style animator, it still helps to keep the model right next to where you work to constantly refer to.

If you’re working on your own stuff and don’t have a model sheet, take the time to complete one for each character, and nail the way your they look before you even start to animate.

Then have a copy of your perfected model on hand (photocopied to the appropriate proportion, or if you’re drawing with TBS, on a layer where you can reference it at all times with the lightbox turned on) and you’ll find that if you keep checking your proportions, your work won’t have this problem for much longer.

If you find yourself stretching limbs and mucking about with proportions where you think you shouldn’t be, just stop and question the drawing you’ve done and how you can improve it.

If you’re doing something tricky like a character moving towards camera and getting bigger, plan out the scene’s different scales, and blow your model up to the relevant sizes and use them all as guides.

It takes a long time for anyone to get better, but the more work you put in, the more you’ll find yourself questioning things in your work like timing, arcs and performance rather than proportion.

For good model reference, try: www.animationmeat.com
The model sheets forum at: www.drawingboard.org
Or for info on proportion, the great drawing instruction books by Andrew Loomis: http://www.fineart.sk/index.php?cat=1

Roll your sleeves up, get to work and keep us up to date with your progress.

Good luck!

Thanks for the links Stickybullseye! I really appreciate the help! They look like they could come in handy!


Echoing some of the choices listed above with a few extra additions, you can check out my absolute favourite top 10 animation books…well, actually 11 as I added an extra one on the end.


My choices are geared for 2d animation and are more about the process and techniques of good classical animation and visual storytelling…in other words, books that will never go out of fashion! :slight_smile:

Hope that helps you out.