Sunday, April 06, 2008

Don Bluth Books

Now, I hope I haven't lost touch with the animation learning material that's out there now, but I'd never even heard of these books by Don Bluth until I went to Barnes & Noble today! Am I crazy? Maybe some (heck maybe I'm the last) of you guys already know about them, but in case you don't or haven't bought them yet, it's worth posting. Seeing that the copyright says 2005, I guess they are relatively recent publications.

Don Bluth's The Art of Animation Drawing and The Art of Storyboard are now a part of my permanent animation library, and as useful and necessary as The Animator's Survival Kit and The Illusion of Life. Books like these don't come along often. More often than not in the animation section of the bookstore you find a giant book that claims to have everything you need to know in one spot, and when you actually look through it you see horribly unappealing characters in Maya screenshots, and pages and pages of information overload. Not so here.

Don Bluth's book reads with the simplicity of Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation, and the personal anecdotes of the Illusion of Life. It takes the complex process and personal feelings of the animator and summarizes them in an easy visual book. Every now and then he adds little bits of advice that have more to do with working on the job than technicalities of animation, and gives a broader picture of what it means to be an animator, an actor. He has stories of his experiences at Disney with Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery, and his own lessons he takes from the lives of Walt Disney and Freddy Moore. He ends the book with an interview of Marc Davis' wife Alice. If you're looking for another Survival Kit, that's not quite what this is, though there is plenty of discussion on analyzing action.

There is no silver bullet to great animation. In fact, even in my few short years of animating, I've figured out that the more I animate, the more I see myself rediscovering what is referred to as "the basics". There is SO much to learn about animation, it is impossible to read a few books, know it all and immediately put it into practice. That's why critique and learning by doing is so important. Don Bluth gives his personal take on the art, acting, storytelling, and job of animation in this book, that I feel is a fantastic blend of the technical and emotional sides of animation (and animators). He covers all the bases, and then some, quickly and easily. After that it's just up to us to practice. And practice. And practice. (And get critique.) And then get the book out again and remind ourselves of what we've forgotten.

**SCAD students will notice a quote by a familiar name on the back of the storyboarding book! Didn't Larry work at Bluth Studios?

1 comment:

Kevin Williams said...


Larry's got a close friendship with Bluth and Goldman, and if I remember correctly, he asked them to use the quote while on a walk at Tybee Island.

Looking forward to the book - it sounds awesome!