Preston Blair’s Animation was one of the first books that I added to my animation library many years ago. It is said by many industry professionals to be the best “how to” book on cartoon animation ever published. He went on to produce two more books and all three have been combined into a 224 page book called Cartoon Animation (Collectors).
In the introduction to Animation Preston Blair said: “The art of animators is unique. Animators bring life to their drawings, creating an illusion of spirit and vigour. They caricature the gestures and expressions in the drawings, give them a fantastic array of character and personality, and make us believe that the drawings actually think and have feelings.”
He continued: “This book was written by an animator to help you learn how to animate-how to make a series of drawings that create a sensation of movement when viewed in sequence. The pioneers of the art of animation learned many lessons, most through trial and error, and it is this body of knowledge that has established the fundamentals of animation. This book will teach you these fundamentals.”
Here is a sample illustration from a page entitled The Dance Kick.
I was interested to learn that when Blair put the book together in 1947, he used the characters he had animated at Disney and MGM to illustrate the various basic principles of animation. Soon after publication the rights to use some of the characters were revoked. He redrew most of the MGM characters, replacing them with general characters of his own design for the next edition. Pages from the first edition can be viewed on the ASIFA website.
Preston Blair’s animation course is still available in printed form. The book Cartoon Animation (Collectors) has 224 pages and brings together the contents originally published in three separate books. By getting the printed book you can have all the information in one high quality volume.
You can see more sample pages from Cartoon Animation on the Amazon website.