As a teacher, I am often asked, "What do I need to do to become an animator?" or, "What program do I need to learn to do computer animation?"

Animation is as much of a disciplined art form as painting or dancing or acting. It requires a lot of practice, patience, and devotion. And like any other art form, it has certain commonly known principles. You can't just simply learn a program, move stuff around, and call yourself an animator.

If you are interested in what makes great animation, start with the people who figured it out before computers existed: animators who were drawing cartoons at places like Disney and Warner Bros. To help you out with that, I've included a list of books I would recommend to my computer animation class. Aside from quitting your job, enrolling yourself in an art school, and taking animation classes, these books can give you a good start.


  • The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson
    Written by two of Disney's best animators, this is the animator's Bible. Every professional animator owns or has access to this one. It was reprinted in 1995 but is currently out of print.

  • Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair
    My second favorite book on animation.

  • "Timing for Animation" by Harold Whitaker and John Halas
    Only available in Europe. You can find it at Amazon UK.

  • Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards by John Canemaker
    Great new book about storyboarding at Disney. Great for those interested in storytelling.