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The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

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The most complete book on the subject ever written, this is the fascinating inside story by two long-term Disney animators of the gradual perfecting of a relatively young and particularly American art from, which no other move studio has ever been able to equal.
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.
Besides relating the painstaking trial-and-error development of Disney's character animation technology, this book irresistibly charms us with almost an overabundance of the original historic drawings used in creating some of the best-loved characters in American culture: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Snow White and Bambi (among many, many others) as well as early sketches used in developing memorable sequences from classic features such as Fantasia and Pinocchio.
With the full cooperation of Walt Disney Productions and free access to the studio's priceless archives, the authors took unparalleled advantage of their intimate long-term experience with animated films to choose the precise drawings to illustrate their points from among hundreds of thousands of pieces of artwork carefully stored away.
The book answers everybody's question about how the amazingly lifelike effects of Disney character animation were achieved, including charming stories of the ways that many favorite animated figures got their unique personalities. From the perspective of two men who had an important role in shaping the art of animation, and within the context of the history of animation and the growth of the Disney studio, this is the definitive volume on the work and achievement of one of America's best-known and most widely loved cultural institutions. Nostalgia and film buffs, students of popular culture, and that very broad audience who warmly responds to the Disney "illusion of life" will find this book compelling reading (and looking!).
Searching for that perfect gift for the animation fan in your life? Explore more behind-the-scenes stories from Disney Editions:

The Art of Mulan: A Disney Editions Classic

Walt Disney's Ultimate Inventor: The Genius of Ub Iwerks

One Day at Disney: Meet the People Who Make the Magic Across the Globe

The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember

From All of Us to All of You: The Disney Christmas Card

Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, Revised Special Edition

Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation, Updated Edition

576 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1981

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About the author

Frank Thomas

105 books28 followers
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.

Along with Ollie Johnston from his college days, the two would eventually become known as members of Walt Disney's team of animators known as the Nine Old Men .

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 107 reviews
Profile Image for Parka.
796 reviews443 followers
December 4, 2012

(More pictures at parkablogs.com)

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 on Walt Disney, people he worked with and the roles everyone played from the storyman to director. Storytelling and character development are also covered. Interesting quotes and commentary are everywhere.

The book goes deeper looking at how these hardworking pioneers approach animation, invent new ways to animate and bring seemingly inanimate objects, even things like safety pins, to life. While not a tutorial book, it does covers subjects like camera techniques, styles of background paintings, effects, colours and other technical approaches to creating animation, right down to how they voice sync a talking door knob.

Lots of photos, paintings, sketches and storyboards are included. You can see the transition from the rubber hose arms of early characters to the more realistic designs that were achieved with attention paid to form and anatomy. Those are the results from the emphasis on research later on.

It's an inspiring book recommended to animators, great for those who want a flashback to the golden era of animation.
Profile Image for Robert Fritz.
172 reviews
January 6, 2016
I first read this book about a decade ago. At Savannah College of Art & Design, I was told it was a must read for animators... and yes it truly is. I recently purchased the HUGE hard-bound copy to share with my animation students and once again enjoyed both the organization and the voice(s) of the book.
If this is your cup of tea, you simply MUST watch the movie "Frank and Ollie" available on DVD. It's a great movie about the two authors of the book and very engaging. (It is a "kind of" documentary shot by Frank Thomas' son.) Since I used to show it to my HS animation classes, I've seen it dozens of times, but find something new every time I view it again.
If you are reading this and you know me, feel free to borrow either the book or the dvd...!
Profile Image for Cheesecake.
2,650 reviews351 followers
June 26, 2021
I'm not saying this is the be-all-end-all of animation anymore but when I was in school in the early 90's it was considered the bible of animation. And it's still fantastic.
If you admire Disney style animation this is your go-to book. It's also good for their story telling and background art.
86 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2015
This is probably the most important book written in the subject of animation, even though familiarity with the subject has grown since its writing.

It chronicles two top Disney animators' impressions on how the Disney studio studied and codified its approach to animated film in the 1930s, which is almost certainly the most formative period of the medium.

They set up a list of basic animation principles and focus on each one in turn. They go through each of the different departments, explaining what they contribute to a picture. They explain the particular challenges of the animator trying to put across different story and character points.

Written immediately after their retirement after almost fifty years at the studio by a close-working team of personal friends, this book did a lot to bring to light what had been more insulated "industry secrets." Depending on your expectation, the coloring of their personal experience and of the Disney environment could be seen either as a feature or a liability. For me it's certainly a feature.
Profile Image for Nina Harp.
10 reviews2 followers
September 17, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Varmint.
126 reviews18 followers
October 20, 2007
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.

Profile Image for Linda.
110 reviews
January 1, 2022
I loved seeing all the behind the scenes of the animation process, however after reading Queens of Animation it was hard not seeing the women behind some of these scenes fully credited.
Profile Image for Alec Longstreth.
Author 24 books56 followers
January 15, 2018
When I was a kid, I checked this book out from the library over and over and over again until my parents finally bought me my own copy. I looked through it constantly, and many of the pages still have depressions along the edges of the characters where I traced them. I loved the continuous flip book in the upper right hand corner of this tome, and I spent countless hours of my childhood looking at images of the Disney films I loved, and photographs of the people who made them....

But I never actually READ this book, until now.

It is an incredible document - essentially an oral history of the Disney Studio and their practices by two master animators who worked there for 40+ years. I decided to read this book because I taught an animation workshop last summer - it took me the better part of six months to get through it - but it was absolutely worth the effort. I learned so much about animation, and my head was often spinning when I heard about some of the supreme effort that went into getting a single shot in some of the early Disney animated films. Highly recommended for anyone interested in animation.

Profile Image for Fazzz14.
10 reviews
December 31, 2018
I thought at first the book was too expensive (by my standards), and I waited so long before buying it; but what I got is one of the most wonderful book one could imagine. Every time I read this Bible of Animation is like living a parallel life in a Disney world; a world of a true genius man and his talented artists, surely among the greatest to ever grace the screen. It's a deep charming journey in their creativeness, their ideas, their vision, and their powerful, simple, poetic aesthetic art; an art that will never be reached again(especially now that animation is just about lifeless CG movies).

I could write a lot about this book, but seriously, I wouldn't do it justice.
2 reviews
February 14, 2009
Although this book is not a quick read, it doesn't make it a dull book by any means. In fact, the book is filled with inspiration for anyone who is creative. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston take you into the heart of the "Disney magic" by giving history lessons and animation lessons on every page. I look forward to reading this book every night.

I recently bought a blu-ray player and have been picking up the few Disney classics that are available. The discs are feature rich and have documentaries that are a great compliment to this book. I am really looking forward to Pinocchio next month.
Profile Image for Fes.
6 reviews2 followers
July 16, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Matea.
244 reviews38 followers
March 31, 2016
It's a very well-writen and interesting read. I found it both fascinating and educational, and therefore enjoyed it very much.
I even read more than I needed for my classes :D
Profile Image for LobsterQuadrille.
835 reviews
May 29, 2020
The Illusion of Life is the most massive, formidable-looking book I have ever seen about classic Disney animation. But the text is so readable and there are so many fantastic visual aids that you can get through a decent chunk of the book in one or two days.
I loved reading about Disney's animation from the viewpoint of two veteran Disney animators, as there were so many great anecdotes and in-jokes to be found here. The descriptions of animation and storytelling processes are both lively and informative, and the huge amount of pictures is just what is needed for a book on the subject. Not only are there animation drawings and film stills, but also concept art, candid photos, and staff caricatures. Though the latter aren't essential for understanding the animation itself, they are a great personal touch and give glimpses into the personalities of the caricaturists and their subjects.

There are quite a few parts that are probably too dry and technical for anyone but an animator, and if you aren't reading this for research purposes you can skip those parts in good conscience. But reading about the design and animation choices and character concepts was always very interesting.

I highly recommend The Illusion of Life to Disney devotees, and to anyone wanting to know more about animation and its history. The authors' pride in their work shines through, and it's astonishing how much time, effort, and teamwork went into each movie, especially without the aid of computers. Animation truly is an art form, and this outwardly intimidating book is really a warm and engaging confirmation of that.
Profile Image for Barack Liu.
454 reviews15 followers
January 17, 2021

305-The illusion of life-Frank Thomas-Tool-1981

" The illusion of life ", first published in the United States in 1981. It mainly introduces the history of Disney animation and condenses the design philosophy of animators into 12 basic animation principles.

Frank Thomas was born in Santa Monica, California, the US in 1912 and died in 2004. Studied at Stanford University. He is an animator and pianist. He is a member of Disney's top animator team. The team members are known as the "guru". Representative works: " The illusion of life " and so on.

Table of Contents
1. The early days 1923-1933
2. The principles of animation
3. Discovery 1934-1936
4. Cartoon comes of age
5. Appeal and dynamics
6. Hyperion: the explosion
7. Burbank and the nine old men
8. Our procedures
9. How to get it on the screen
10. The Disney sounds

“ We hope that some readers will be stimulated to carry on these traditions and elevate this art form to an ever-higher level. ”

Sometimes I am thinking, for those who have achieved fame, what is their purpose for writing books? Is it just for fame and wealth? This kind of motivation may be there, but I believe that one of their goals is to share their personal experiences selflessly. One of the purposes is also to hope that some of the future readers can be inspired by them, inherited by them, and share their dreams. The idea continues.

“ Many will look to this book to teach them the secrets of Disney animation so that they can become instant successes. Unfortunately, this craft cannot be learned by just reading a book, and not overnight under any circumstances. ”

This is not only the case for making animation, but also for other aspects. This world is not caused by a lack of success or luck, but most of all success will have to go through lengthy preparation. We have to learn from the knowledge and experience of the predecessors, but this does not mean that reading alone can solve the problem. From a theorist to a doer, we need to pass a lot of practice before we can go from entry to master.

" An artist could represent the actual figure, if he chose, meticulously capturing its movements and actions. Or he could caricature it, satirize it, ridicule it. And he was not limited to mere actions; he could show emotions, feelings, even innermost fears. He could give reality to the dreams of the visionary. He could create a character on the screen that not only appeared to be living but thinking and making decisions all by himself. Most of all, to everyone's surprise, this new art of animation had the power to make the audience actually feel the emotions of a cartoon figure. ”

The core of all artistic expressions is to show people's material and spiritual world. Therefore, they either show objective things or show the author's subjective consciousness. Whether both of which, animation can be more than most of the other of the more fully done in the form of artistic expression. This is a very expressive means of display.

“ “The problem is not a single track one. Animation IS Not just timing or just a well-drawn character, it is the sum of all the factors named. No matter what the devil one talks about—whether force or form, or well-drawn characters, timing, or spacing—animation is all these things—not anyone. ”

The animation is not one aspect, it is a combination of many aspects. Contact animators, must not only be allowed one aspect but to be in several different fields have reserves and knowledge.

" It was not just what you heard, it was what the sounds made you believe and feel. It was not the actor's emotions you were sensing anymore. They were your emotions. Fortunately, animation works, in the same way, Itis capable of getting inside the heads of its audiences, into their imaginations. ”

Whether it’s a movie or an animation, if you want to impress the audience, you have to work harder on the details. To mill work down in the details, so as to make the audience feel immersive.

" It is easy to see how the development of an individual personality in a story situation can make even the dullest action become entertaining. In addition to the personality, however, there should be a change in the initial action that will enable an animator to show more than one side of this personality. The most interesting character in the world is not very exciting when sitting and listening to a symphony concert. Our true personalities are best revealed by our reactions to a change we did not expect. ”

Only when people are in an environment beyond their expected time, people's reaction is the closest to its origin. And this kind of reaction that is closest to the origin is actually different for everyone. If something is going to happen, people have been quite familiar with it, so they can prepare in advance. This also makes their reflections may not be the closest to their true thoughts.

This is why literary works place great emphasis on contradictions and conflicts. The sharper the contradiction, the stronger the drama. What kind of contradiction to show and how to show it is a question that the artist has to ponder over and over again.

“ As Charlie Chaplin said of his own beginnings in the movie business, mL little as I knew about movies, I knew that nothing t ascended personality.'"* In addition to gags and effects, there must be a point of entry through which audiences can identify with the story situation, and the best way is through a character who is like someone they have known. He can be more heroic, or bigger than life, or meaner than sin,”* but basically he has to be human enough for the audience to understand him and identify with the problems he faces in the story. ”

Let the audience and resonate with animated characters, then it must have resonance contacts. To make the audience seem to find the shadow of someone in real life, the emotions expressed by the animated characters must also make the audience feel that they are authentic.

" This was the situation when Walt Disney entered the field, and he was not an immediate success. In fact, it is even surprising that he was able to get a toehold in this tough business of limited contracts and tight money. But Walt was a fighter and had great determination; he was no aesthetic artist living in a dream world. As he said, “'I have been up against tough competition all my life. | wouldn't know how to get along without it." Any man with Walt's talents but without his spirit and tenacity would never have made it. ”

No matter how outstanding people are, they will also encounter many failures. On the road to success, talent, continuous effort, and luck are indispensable. However, the two elements of talent and luck are not transferred by human resources. We can only focus on the part that we can control, which is ourselves. Continuous efforts. I think if you put in the continuous effort, even if you don't have the talent and luck, you can at least be worthy of yourself.

" Qur goal in these studies is to make the audience feel the emotions of the characters, rather than appreciate them intellectually. We want our viewers not merely to enjoy the situation with a murmured,'' Isn't he cute?"' but really to feel something of what the character is feeling, If we succeed in this, the audience will now care about the character and about what happens to him, and that ts audience involvement. Without it, a cartoon feature will never hold the attention of its viewers. ”

The important thing is to make readers feel empathetic and have similar feelings to animated characters. This means that animated characters must have their own soul and the inner world just like a real character. Really appeal to the audience's, is the soul of the character, idea.

" Often a whole new character would appear from nowhere and take over the story. When we started Snow White, there was no Dopey in the cast, Pinocchio had no Jiminy Cricket, and Bambi had no Thumper. All of these characters evolved as the pictures developed. As Walt said,'*The best things in many of our pictures have come after we thought _ the story was thoroughly prepared. Sometimes we don't really get close to our personalities until the story is in animation.” ”

We can not at the beginning of time, put everything wants to know, what the character to appear, the story is what. In fact, many times, things are a little different. So, at the beginning stage, just do it and just think about it. In the process of thinking and doing, the work will evolve itself. I think this is the art of life force lies.

Like Balzac once said that he was not the creation of those figures, but he described those figures, by the nature of his pen flowing out, the tool this time, he has become an expression of it.

" Walt was also a gambler when it mattered most. If he believed in an idea, he would risk absolutely everything to get it before the public. But he was also practical enough to work with what he had, rather than wait for what he wished he had. He would say, we don't know if it's art, but I know I like it,'' and he felt intuitive that if he liked it the rest of the world would like it, too—if only he could find the right way to present it. ”

I see many successful people recalling his life, when they have gone through important choices, they seem to have some intuition. This kind of decision is sometimes not entirely the result of rational analysis, and sometimes it is even contrary to rationality. All he knew was that he wanted this thing, wanted to do this thing, and then went in this direction, but in fact, he didn't necessarily know why it was like this.

It turns out he was right. I wonder if this is just a survivor bias? There are also many people who do things according to their own ideas, but in the end, they fail. Such examples certainly great, but probably no chance of being someone else knows of it.

" It was never too late to make a change; nothing was ever set as long as the possibility existed that it could _ be made to relate better to the overall picture or communicate more strongly with the audience. We struggled to build interesting, appealing characters, but most of all we worked to find ways to make the audience feel the emotions of the animated figures— emotions the audience could “'relate to, identify with, and become involved in. ” ”

A role from the beginning of conception, to move the process on the final shape of the big screen, is probably a bit like a human process from birth to the last final nail. He must be constantly growing. If the creator plays a role similar to God, he has a basic idea of the general fate and character of this role, and may even have a general consideration of the final outcome of his creation.

However, the creator must not be able to clearly know everything in the entire life of this character. This is probably like life, and God does not know every detail. I believe that things like destiny exist, but it is only a general direction. This direction is probably the mission and path given to everyone by the unknown will of the universe. But this does not mean that everything is destined. Every individual, like every character in an animated story, has room for development and change.

" At first the cartoon medium was just a novelty, but it never really began to hit until we had more than tricks. .. until we developed personalities. We had to get beyond getting a laugh. They may roll in the aisles, but that doesn't mean you have a great picture. You have to have pathos in the thing."'

From text to pictures, to movies, animations, all these various manifestations, they are just a way of telling stories to human beings. Technology is constantly changing, but its core has not changed too much. If we are only obsessed with technology and cannot tell a good story, show a good character, a character, then even if we have powerful tools, It's just tangible and godless, unable to make truly great animation works.

" With electronic aids being perfected and new tools and materials being used, who can possibly foresee what lies ahead? [t probably will not be another Walt Disney who will lead the way, but someone or some group of artists will surely discover new dimensions to delight and entertain the world. Hopefully, this book will be their springboard. ”

No one knows what the future will look like. But we can be sure of Shi, the world no single company to eternity. Disney has reached several peaks in the course of nearly a hundred years of life, and perhaps he will still reach more peaks in the coming days, but it is undeniable that one day he will decline and die.

But what is certain is that in the next tens or even hundreds of years, Disney will be a monument to countless animators’ hearts. It is a great milestone for mankind in exploring the art of animation.

Profile Image for Joy.
246 reviews6 followers
April 28, 2021
Just some light bedtime reading with my 6 year old
July 6, 2020
Thomas, F., & Johnson, O. (1981). The illusion of life: Disney animation. Walt Disney Productions.

Reviewed by:
Olivia Selbee
Ferris State University

Although biased towards only Disney’s experience, the hefty, eighteen chapter book, titled, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson greatly expresses animation’s history, tips and tricks, and engages the reader throughout with appealing imagery. Each chapter includes carefully worded information that helps guide the reader through the history of Disney animation and animation procedural techniques alike.
The book was a pleasant surprise as it went over the history of Disney animation and traditional animation techniques both. Books I have read in the past, regarding animation and animation history, have been separated by those topics. This is the first I have found that dives a bit deeper and discusses Disney’s history and the principles and procedures of animation. The authors really put an emphasis on how animation shaped and changed with Disney as Disney shaped and changed animation. Along with the advice and information given by the book, what really tied it up in a bow-tied package was all of the charming artwork that really helped keep a fun pace for the audience.
Personally, I really appreciated the tips and tricks used for animation, such as the arcs hand gesture on page 62, and the lines examples given in a square diagram on page 68. There was advice that felt not just scattered here and there, but really enforced to make sure the reader is presented with concepts. Within chapter three of the book, titled “The Principles of Animation”, there was a lot of significant information that can help an aspiring animator really create the “illusion of life”, just as the title suggests, by using the 12 principles of animation, exaggeration, and expression. Within the chapters succeeding “The Principles of Animation”, the authors really emphasized how Disney and his team grew to experiment and pushed animation to its limits, given the current technology.
One portion of the book that I found rather interesting was in chapter seven, titled, “Hyperion: The Explosion”. It more so discussed the management changes that happened in Disney in the early to mid 1900s. Disney started as a small team of artists, but eventually grew to the point where it was in need of more team members and Walt Disney had his employees do what they’re best at and what is expected of them. The authors described how complex the animation industry was becoming and that it “led to a business of specialists” (Thomas & Johnson, 1981).
Additionally, what felt like a rather long portion of the book (in a good way), was chapter ten, titled, “How to Get It on the Screen”. I particularly enjoyed the midsection of this chapter because it involved music. As a music lover and aspiring animator, it has been rather difficult for me to find any sources that can go over both topics and not just one or the other. One bit of information that felt most useful to an animator is that animation is “better supported by a free tempo type of music than by the rigid beat” (Thomas & Johnson, 1981, p. 294). The use of animation to inspire music to better fit the mood of the story and characters by not having prescored music is interesting and opens many doors for animators. It allows for animators to be loose and more experimental with their animating. The chapter, in all, was really inspiring, as both an artist and musician.
The book continued to explain procedures, history, management, and techniques, through a ‘Disney perspective’. It provides examples in its sources (films) to the audience and points out how characters are brought to life through animation by having them be expressive and exaggerated. For example, one of the later chapters, chapter seventeen, titled, “Acting and Emotions”, really brought an understanding of communicating believability to an animated character. The authors, Thomas and Johnson, asked some eye-opening questions on page 475, stating,
“Are the characters interesting, lifelike, and vivid? Do you become emotionally involved with them? Do the gestures and movements seem sincere? Does all of the action help to delineate characters and their situation for you? Is the action clear-cut, realistic, prolonged sufficiently, and exaggerated enough to be seen by the whole audience?”.
Seeing “texture” and personality in books, like these questions, really gave me a sense of immersion that I have not seen many other books of the type do. As a person who needs an extra kick to keep focus, it was really refreshing to have such personal, what felt like actual conversation, wording in this book. It gave a sense of, ‘us artists are all in this together’ and really felt like wisdom was being passed down onto me rather than just reading any old textbook.
I had very few problems with the book if any. The preface of the book felt kind of like a slap to my face as it, possibly unintentionally, insulted some of my favorite animation studios. Its biased Disney-perspective gave it a sense that Disney is the only studio that has the capability to create such stunning films. The way this opinion was stated really put me off from reading the book at first, as there are many films, by other studios, that I prefer over any Disney film. While reading, though, it is more understandable as to why they phrased the preface the way they did. I can agree that early Disney Animation was ahead of its time, but the sort of cockiness was kind of a shock to me in a book like this one.
In all regards, the book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson, is an insightful read for any aspiring animator as it provides wisdom and experience from one of the most successful animation companies of all time. It really opened my eyes to the history of Disney and how it affects animation today. The book felt inspiring and more like having a fun conversation, especially nearing the end, than just some old textbook that is telling you how to feel and what to think. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Disney and its history and/or animation itself.
Profile Image for Herman Litt.
21 reviews
April 28, 2011
“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 Animator's Survival Kit" is also a great partner to this book.
Profile Image for Bob Szesnat.
34 reviews3 followers
December 10, 2014
I got this book when I was around ten. I wanted to be a Disney Animator more then life its self growing up. My aunt bought me this book one Christmas.
Through the years I devoured it. Teaching the fundamentals of traditional animation it is a most have for any one interested in the subject.
Though it doesn't deal with the digital age, lots have changed, I still recommend it. The basics have not changed and the wisdom and history of the animation process is something any animator or animation student needs.
Profile Image for Krystal.
792 reviews26 followers
August 8, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Rubaiat Habib.
1 review8 followers
September 28, 2015
This book opened by eyes about all the subtleties and insights about the classical 2D animation. To me, the key take away is how a complex, stylized animation style can be decomposed into smaller, understandable chunks (i.e., the 12 principles of animation). this helps an animator to think, learn and execute 2D classical animation in new ways.
Profile Image for Deborah.
1 review
January 22, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Liston Morris.
81 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Jie.
1 review
March 25, 2010
It's a great book,from it I found my caricature dream!
Profile Image for Akiko Ashley.
56 reviews
January 2, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Mary Shyne.
Author 2 books
June 4, 2017
A marvelous resource for animators, but racist at times.
Profile Image for Regina Hunter.
Author 6 books53 followers
January 28, 2011
Had to read it, since it is a miracle when I see my bf reading things... 15 books in his life!
6 reviews
October 3, 2022
I really love it, it tells aloth about animation and is a little peak behind the scenes of disney, it can be a little dry at times but very well worth reading though good luck getting the right book shelf its a big boy. I do have it in my private collection on animation and do love it .
I would recoment it . also it haves aloth of beautiful drawings as well.
I think its well but togther .
its not my favorite book on the subject but in my top 5
still very worth owning also its a very beautiful book both inside and out.
its a little heavy so best to read at home .
Profile Image for Jane.
446 reviews
May 29, 2018
This is an unbelievable book about Disney animation. There’s a huge amount of material here, and the book is not up to date. It would be at least twice the size if it had been written today and included recent Disney movies and computer animation.

Even so, this is the best book I’ve ever read that deals with this subject. I will re-read it and refer to it many times in the future. It is an incredibly beautiful book. An absolute treasure.
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