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Book Gift Guide for Animation Students

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Animation Students and Animators love books. My husband and I are both animation enthusiasts. Both Harry and I have been animation students. Harry has taught as an animation teacher in the past. We have a massive art and animation book collection as well as a long wish list of books. Below is a long book gift guide for animation students. Some books are classics needed in every animation student’s library, and others are unique books your animation student may have not yet discovered. One thing is certain, this book gift guide for animation students has something for everyone!

Books are always a good idea! While artists and art students are always in need of art supplies, books are a valuable tool and thoughtful gift. Books by artists, books sharing behind the scenes of an animated film, and technique books are

We have already shared an animation student gift guide as well as an animation student stocking stuffer guide. If you are looking for a gift for an animator or animator in training; those curated lists are worth checking out. If you are looking specifically for books, we have a growing list here. The lucky person on your gift list may already seem to have everything, but nobody can have enough books. Books a thoughtful and inspiring to visual artists; make sure to bookmark this page and return each year as we promise to update it with our favorite finds!

As our readers know, we keep this site running with affiliate links. We hope that if you are shopping for books, you will check out our curated list and purchase from one of our affiliates. That said, I am a huge proponent of purchasing books used. Always keep your eyes open for art books in used book stores, library sales, and even thrift shops. While we share links to new items, please know we also encourage finding something gently preowned if you have the time and ability to do so.

I have included affiliate links for both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. Both will have sales periodically and I do not have any loyalty to one or the other. My hope is to get the best deal for my readers and these two stores consistently have the best deals. As always, I suggest first asking for books in a “Buy Nothing” group and keeping your eyes open at used book stores. The books below have mostly been in print for years if not decades, and a used book is almost always just as good as a new book. While many of these animation books are available digitally, as an artist, I personally much prefer to flip through the pages of an actual book

animation books for animators and students

Book Gift Guide For Animation Students

The Animator's Survival Kit

If your aspiring animator does not have “The Animator’s Survival Kit” just yet, this is absolutely the best book to get! 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 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 Toy Story.

Get the Animator's Survival Kit here

Animation Storyboard Notebook

Storyboard Notebook: Animation is designed to help animators clearly and effectively communicate their vision for feature films, television and short subjects. Each page features eight storyboard panels with space to write notes and dialogue. The panels are arranged to feel like a traditional storyboard pitch wall, used by animators since the early days of the Disney studio when presenting their ideas. Buy it at Barnes and Noble here.

Get your Animation Storyboard Notebook here

Force Character Design

Design creative characters inspired by real people. Let Mike Mattesi show you how to use life drawing to discover the poses, features and personalities which form the basis of character and then build, develop and ‘PUSH’ your drawings to new heights of dramatic and visual impact for believable characters audiences can relate to. If you prefer to get it at Barnes and Noble, use this link.

Get the Force Character Design book here

Storyboard Sketchbook

Animation students are always creating storyboards. This Storyboard sketchbook is less than $20 and is something that artists will love! Get creative with this Blank Storyboard Sketchbook Featuring 16:9 Thumbnail Panels 100 Bright White Pages by Tangie Marie and Cameron Purvis! This Storyboard Sketchbook has more than 100 pages that are made of high quality, heavy-weight white paper. Each page of this sketchbook has 3 blank 16:9 thumbnail panels with description lines for planing out each scene.

Order your Storyboard Sketchbook here

Watercolor sketch books

This two pack watercolor sketchbook set is also under $20. Artists go through lots of paper, they will love this! Pack of 2 premium 5.5″ x 8.5″ square natural linen-bound hardcover watercolor books, each with 76 sheets. Books contain thick heavyweight 110 pound (230 gsm) art sketchbook natural white paper sheets that are acid-free with a cold-press textured surface.

Get your Watercolor sketch books here

The Illusion of Life

Every animator and animation lover has to have this book in their collection. The authors, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, worked with Walt Disney himself as well as other leading figures in a half-century of Disney films. They personally animated leading characters in most of the famous films and have decades of close association with the others who helped perfect this extremely difficult and time-consuming art form. Not to be mistaken for just a “how-to-do-it,” this voluminously illustrated volume (like the classic Disney films themselves) is intended for everyone to enjoy. You can also order it at Barnes and Noble.

Get your Illusion of life book here

The Art of Turning Red

Animation lovers cannot get enough of “The Art Of” books. This stunning volume is an exclusive look behind the scenes of Disney and Pixar’s original feature film Turning Red. In The Art of Turning Red, explore the art and making of Disney and Pixar’s newest original feature film. Mei Lee is a confident, dorky thirteen-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And as if changes to her interests, relationships, and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which for a teenager is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda! With character designs, storyboards, colorscripts, exclusive interviews with the creative team, and much more, this vibrant volume shares a behind the scenes look at this new animated film, for aspiring artists, animators, and fans alike.

Get your The Art of Turning Red book here

Walt Disney Archives

In TASCHEN’s first volume of one of the most expansive illustrated publications on Disney animation, some 1,500 images and essays by eminent Disney experts take us to the beating heart of the studio’s “Golden Age of Animation.” This landmark book traces Disney’s complete animation journey from the silent film era, through his first full-length feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and the pioneering artistic experiment Fantasia (1940), right up to his last masterpieces Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) and The Jungle Book (1967).

Get your Walt Disney Archives here

Vilppu Sketching on Location Manual

Vilppu Sketching on Location Manual Vilppu Sketching on Location Manual includes hundreds of illustrations by the Glenn Vilppu. It is a practical sketching guide for artists of all levels,bfrom beginner to professional, developed through over 50 years of Glenn Vilppu’s teaching experience.This 12 chapter Sketching on Location Manual originated as a series of daily lessons for artists participating in Glenn Vilppu’s Annual Sketching on Location Workshops in Europe.

Get your Vilppu Sketching on Location Manual here

Art of Loish

In this visually stunning hardback, globally loved artist Lois van Baarle, AKA Loish, explores the origins, influences, and features of her style, and helps readers do the same deep dive into their own style. It is her third book with 3dtotal Publishing, a natural progression from the bestselling The Art of Loish (2016) and The Sketch Book of Loish (2018) which to date have sold over 85,000 copies combined.

Get your Art of Loish book here

Sketchbook by Loish

Sketchbook by Loish (typically the older books are less expensive but just as beautiful!). The Sketchbook of Loish offers readers a unique look into Loish’s creative processes and idea generation, providing an insight into the role her sketches play in her extremely popular work. Peek inside Loish’s sketchbook and discover how she explores gesture, stylization, and sketching for animation.

Order your Sketchbook by Loish here

Books by Andrew Loomis.

I LOVE this Andrew Loomis Box Set with multiple books! For the first time, this attractive box set collects two of Loomis’ most popular works to create the ultimate guide to drawing the human body. Containing Drawing the Head and Hands and Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, this set is perfect for students, amateur artists, and professionals alike.

Get your Andrew Loomis box set here

Designing with Pixar

Creativity abounds in this one-of-a-kind activity book from Pixar Animation Studios. Inspired by behind-the-scenes work of Pixar’s animators, it encourages fans and artists to explore their own imaginations through Pixar’s favorite characters and iconic scenes. Prompts from films such as Toy Story, Cars, Brave, Inside Out, and more invite discoveries about color, shape, character design, and scene setting—and how all of these interact to tell a visual story.

Get your Designing with Pixar book here

Gifts for Kids that are into Animation

The books above will be great gifts for kids that are interested in animation too! If you have a child on your gift list that isn’t an adult college student, these are some great ideas for younger kids!

Animation Labs - (for kids!)

Included in this animation lab book –

  • A concise overview of the animation process, from conceptualizing, designing, and scripting a film to basic tools, supplies, and adding sound
  • Traditional animation: zoetropes, flip books, and cel animation
  • Downshoot animation: 2D art surfaces and characters come to life
  • Straight-ahead animation: projects for hand-sewn and claymation puppets, sets, and rigging
  • Pixilation: the ins and outs of becoming your own stop-motion puppet
  • Inspiring examples from innovative and influential animators, such as Kirsten Lepore, Hayley Morris, PES, and Emily Collins

The lessons require no previous experience for either child or adult. Animation Lab for Kids is a perfect way for parents, art teachers, home schoolers, after-school care providers, and community group leaders to guide and inspire creative kids to take their art projects to the next level with stop-motion movie making.

The popular Lab for Kids series features a growing list of books that share hands-on activities and projects on a wide host of topics, including art, astronomy, clay, geology, math, and even how to create your own circus—all authored by established experts in their fields. Each lab contains a complete materials list, clear step-by-step photographs of the process, as well as finished samples. The labs can be used as singular projects or as part of a yearlong curriculum of experiential learning. The activities are open-ended, designed to be explored over and over, often with different results. Geared toward being taught or guided by adults, they are enriching for a range of ages and skill levels. Gain firsthand knowledge on your favorite topic with Lab for Kids.

Order your Animation Lab here

The LEGO Animation Book

Have you ever wondered what your LEGO creations would look like on the big screen? The LEGO Animation Book will show you how to bring your models to life with stop-motion animation—no experience required! Follow step-by-step instructions to make your first animation, and then explore the entire filmmaking process, from storyboards to post-production.

Along the way, you’ll learn how to:
–Create special effects like explosions and flying minifigures
–Convey action and emotion with your minifigure actors
–Design sets for animation—make three buildings look like an entire city!
–Light, frame, and capture consistent photos
–Add detail and scope to your films by building in different scales
–Build camera dollies and rigs out of LEGO bricks
–Choose cameras, software, and other essential animation tools

Dive into the world of animation and discover a whole new way to play!

Get your LEGO Animation Book here

Flipbook Kit for Kids

  • Create Your Own Flip book – Stop motion animation kit to create your own dinosaur book – ideal anime drawing kit gift for not only kids 9-12 but also anime fans and artists with passion in stop motion
  • All Tools Included – Each kit includes perforated flip book paper sheets, 4 color markers, clips and instruction sheet to make a total of 3 stop motion books. No scissors, glue or tape necessary
  • No Skills Needed – Two books are pre-drawn and ready for coloring while the other book is blank allowing you to create your own original animation – making it as a comic book drawing kit for kids
  • Dinosaur Book – The pre-drawn dinosaur books feature triceratops coming to life and a Pteranodon swirling and gliding past a volcano! Then use the blank sheets to make your own book featuring your favorite dinosaur. Collect Them All – Fliptomania Flip Book Making Kits are available in various themes featuring robots, rockets, robots, butterfly, frog, basketball, soccer, noahs ark, David / Goalith, and art.
Get your Flipbook Kit for kids here

Animators and artists love books! You cannot go wrong with any of the books on this list. Consider this animation book list as a starting off point. If your loved one already has these books, they are sure to love another sketchbook or any other ‘art of’ book you can find!

Until Next Time ~ Kate
Categories:  Gift guide, Holiday, Products

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