The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation
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The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  2,231 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The most complete book ever written on the subject, this is the fascinating inside story, told by two long-term Disney animators, of the gradual perfection of a relatively young and particularly American art form--which no other movie studio has been able to equal.
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published October 19th 1995 by Disney Editions (first published 1981)
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Of the many books on animation and Disney, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation is probably the best. Written by two of Disney's famous Nine Old Men, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, this book goes back to where animation was born, made and enjoyed by people all over the world.

At 576 pages, this huge volume probably covers lots of ground on animation except the how-to-do-it part since this isn't really a tutorial book. There are plenty of illustrious stories o...more
T.L. Morganfield
This was a Christmas present from my mom when I was about 12. She got it on the discount rack at Kmart and I used this book so much that both the front and back cover have fallen off. I just took it out and looked through it again last night, to find something to stretch my drawing muscles on since I haven't done any drawing in 15 years now. It's every bit as wonderful and full of inspiration as I remember it being. My daughter loves looking through it too.
“We seem to know when to ‘tap the heart.’ Others have hit the intellect. We can hit them in an emotional way. Those who appeal to the intellect only appeal to a very limited group. The real thing behind this is: we are in the motion picture business, only we are drawing them instead of photographing them.” - Walt Disney

Wonderful and informative. From Walt's Nine Old Men, basic principles, the many glimpses into the workings of the animators at Disney's during the Golden Age and more. 5/5!!

"The A...more
This is a fabulous read for anyone interested in animation, not just Disney animation. Two of the greats look at how animation developed into the art form it is today from the beginnings of Mickey up to The Rescuers. Full of great drawings and art from the films, it also gives you an inside look at how Walt ran the studio and how some of the most beautiful animation scenes were filmed.
Liston Morris
This is one of the most important books that an animator can own. It is a detailed account of the development of the Disney animation process.
I don't can ever finish this book. As an animator, it's your bible. A book that you always reference when you're in a bind.
Kristen Cummings
This is without a doubt the animator's bible. Reads like a novel, but full of priceless information on the craft.
Regina Hunter
Had to read it, since it is a miracle when I see my bf reading things... 15 books in his life!
Mar 25, 2010 Jie added it
It's a great book,from it I found my caricature dream!
Gijs Grob
Rijkelijk geïllustreerd boek over de animatietechnieken, die bij Disney ontwikkeld en gebruikt werden tussen ca. 1934 en 1980, door twee van Disney's grootste animatoren, Frank Thomas en Ollie Johnston.

Het boek is noch een historisch overzicht noch een leerboek, maar heeft iets van beide. Het zit vol met tips & tricks, uitleg en voorbeelden, maar het bevat ook portretten van animators en veel anekdoten.

Voor historici is het boek uiteindelijk frustrerend, omdat Thomas & Johnston stelselma...more
Goes into depth into the process of creating Disney's animated classics. It was interesting to learn about what went on behind the scenes as someone who grew up with these films. I always knew a lot of work went into the production of Disney's work, but this book taught me just how much.
Bought this when I was deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up... cartoonist, vet, lawyer or tbd. It's pretty much THE BOOK on classic Disney animation. It's earned a place on the shelf as one of my favorites.
Amanda Wheet
This book is not for anyone with weak arms, a compulsion to not finish what they start, or fear of papercuts. The Illusion of Life is a monster, but so detailed and interesting that true Disney Animation fans overlook its age and weight.

Written by two of the nine old men, this book encompasses Disney Animation through The Rescuers.

Proud to say I read every chapter cover to cover. Solid 4.25 stars.
every year the mouse cranks out a dozen bland management approved histories of the early films. this is not one of them.

i paid way too much for a first edition, a year before the reprint. but i had to have it. this bookis a real insight into the minds of disney's nine old men. and served as a primer for a generation of animators.

indespensible with my blair and muybridge.

Katherine (Kat) Cohn
I don't really admire Disney: when I read that Maurice Sendak wanted to emulate Mickey Mouse in his book "In the Night Kitchen," I was temporarily disappointed in him. This book was really well written, however, and gives some very enjoyable stories and interesting perspectives on the life the animators lived throughout the very beginning of what later became the famous Disney studio.
Nina Harp
I took this book up mainly because of the writers themselves, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, founding fathers of hand drawn animation. Thought it may be more of a tutorial book but is more of the history of animation and principles behind Disney's early years. Loved it very much.
Mike Moore
A mighty huge tome that goes right into the heart & soul of Disney Animation Studios' origins, from the earliest days, to and through the classical era. The tales and anecdotes of the "Nine Old Men" that formed the backbone of the studio are a real treat for any animation fan to read.
I'd bet my lunch that this was/is a secret weapon to those involved with creating Pixar's films. For any animator, or fan of animation, it's an awe-inspiring, riveting book, chronicling an important and almost-forgotten artistic and technological renaissance of our time.
David Gileadi
This is a great coffee table book--incredible pics, very good info on how animation works, and great history and anecdotes of Disney animation. Written by two of the "9 old men" (the old guys from the end of the Incredibles). This is my third time through or so.
Again-- this should be on currently-reading. This book is a tome! It will take forever to get through but it sure looks good.

Update: I'm going to mark this as read because I'll be at it for the rest of my life! Very cool book. :-)
if you are a hard-core fan of Walt Disney, or you're simply interested in the tips and techniques Walt Disney has used to make their characters so lively and full of personalities, well, yes, this book is a recommendation.
Oct 01, 2011 Hank rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011

This wasn't what I thought was, that is a Disney history. Instead this gorgeously illustrated book can be summed up as: Animation is brought to life by drawing like-like characters. Maybe an arist would get out of it.
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*
LOVED IT!!!!! Filled with lots of gorgeous Disney artwork and a great insight on how it is all put together in animation. This one is going in my collection for years to come!
Recommend to any Disney fan!
Yasser Azmy
لو كان كتاب ريتشارد ويليامز " انيميتور سيرفيفال كيت " هو الامثل لوجوده بجانب مكتبك ، ضع في حسبانك هذا الكتاب في مكان ما بجانب السرير ، في ذلك الكتاب نقل عشق حب محرك الرسوم المبتدأ في صناعة الانيميشن .
Wow. If you like animation, Walt Disney, or filmmaking, this is a book you really must read. Gorgeous pictures, clear explanations, fun stories about the original Disney studio… Inspiring stuff.
An absolute must for anybody interested in animation in general, and the Disney-style animation that filled my imagination with smooth-moving full-of-personality characters. One of my favorite books.
Akiko Ashley
If you work in the animation industry or are considering a career in animation this book is a "must read". Traditional animation techniques are discussed in depths from legendary animators.
This is another of those books that I had to have...just to say I had it, also so I'd be able to reference it later. I do a lot with art right now, and this is a very nice companion book.
Sejarah dan ilmu animasi ada di buku ini. Menceritakan bagaimana Studi Disney berkembang, orang-orang di dalamnya, dan yang terpenting adalah bagaimana prinsip-prinsip animasi tercipta.
Brian Bek
Great book about animation at Disney. It touches on all issues regarding creating animated films. The one thing it does not teach you is how to draw. Look else where for that.
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Franklin M. "Frank" Thomas was an American animator.

Frank Thomas attended Stanford University, where he worked on the campus humor magazine The Stanford Chaparral with Ollie Johnston.

After graduating from Stanford, he attended Chouinard Art Institute.

Frank Thomas joined The Walt Disney Company on September 24, 1934 as employee number 224. There he animated dozens of feature films and shorts.

More about Frank Thomas...
The Disney Villain Sherlock Holmes & the Golden Bird Too Funny for Words: Disney's Greatest Sight Gags Sherlock Holmes & the Sacred Sword Sherlock Holmes And The Treasure Train

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