Top 10 Books for CG Animators

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Over the years I have built up a large collection of books related to Games and Animation. Some invaluable and others more a shelf filler. With that in mind I have compiled a list of 10 must-have books for CG animators. These are in no particular order:

The Animators Survival Kit
Most animators would consider this an essential animation resource. You will find it on most similar lists and for good reason. It is clear, consise and does better than probably any other book at conveying the knowledge and overall essense of animation. The book includes a short history of animation, the 12 principles, walks, runs, dialogue and much more. Not everything in this book translates well into the 3D though, so just be wary of that. Find it here.

Stop Staring- The Art of Facial Modelling and Animation
As you might of realised from the title, this is more of a specialist book focusing on the facial side of animation. It's a 396 page guide on a range of topics including facial animation, lip syncing, facial rigging, facial anatomy and Python scripting. It also includes sections on facial modelling, but I have been told by other artists that some of the techniques included are a bit outdated. So maybe look elsewhere for that. Find it here.

How to cheat in Maya/ 3ds Max
Includes step-by-step walkthroughs of essential techniques every animator needs to know. Part of the "How to cheat" series, both these books take you through their respective programs interface and tools, as well as a range of animation techniques including character animation, pose-to-pose blocking, facial animation, fixing gimbal lock and much more. The book also includes free and easy-to-use rigs that would look great on any showreel. A new version comes out every year so be careful which one you buy, as there are a few different versions on amazon at the moment. Find them here and here.

Body Language- Advanced 3D Character Rigging 
Apparantly this book was first released in 2007, which might explain the front cover. Put that aside and you will realise that this is a brilliant book for any character TD and despite its age is still one of the most in-depth and worthwhile rigging resources available. It covers basic rigging concepts, IK spline spine setups, custom stretchy FK/IK arms, legs and reverse foot techniques, facial deformation/blendshapes, eye setups and muscle systems. Find it here.

Timing for Animation  First published in 1981, this is an updated version that covers both modern digital production methods and the basic principles that apply to 2D, 3D and stop motion. Includes practical guides for correct spacing and timing in common situations and how to infuse weight, mood and power into your animations. Also covers key techniques like squash and stretch, animated cycles, overlapping and anticipation. Find it here.

Force- Dynamic Life drawing for animators  
Like many on this list, this book will probably benefit 2D animators more, but it is still incredibly helpful to any CG animator. It covers how to create strong forceful poses, line of action and how to use straight and curved lines to show the direction of force in the body. All this helps to create better thumbnails and better animation poses. It is informative, concise, and packed full of inspirational illustrations. It also teaches about human anatomy which is key knowledge for any animator or rigger. Find it here.

Force- Animal Drawing
Another book in the Force series. This is an excellent guide to animal drawing with a specific focus on force, form and shape. It is similar to the previous book, but I personally prefer this book as it explores in greater depth the anatomical side of its subject. It explores in great detail the different types of animal anatomy and how this creates different animal locomotion classes within the animal kingdom. It is fairly detailed  but is supported in great success by a mix of traditional hand-drawn studies, exaggerated observational illustrations and still photographs. Find it here.

Directing the Story
I wasn't entirely confident about this purchase at first, but this quickly faded once I realised how detailed and in-depth this book truely was. It demonstrates professional visual storytelling techniques, that all animators should learn, in a simple graphic novel style. It is a comprehensive look at the art and craft of storytelling that will benefit animators, storyboard artists and filmmakers alike. Find it here.

Mocap for Artists
Motion capture has now become a prevelent part of animation, especially in Video Games, so it is more important than ever for animators to learn. There aren't many good books out there on the subject, but this seemed the best out of the small amount on offer.  Demo files and tutorials provided on the companion CD deliver first-hand experience with some of the core processes. Find it here.

Eadweard Muybridge- the human and animal locomotion photographs
This is an 804 page monster of a book that covers the life and work of Muybridge, a pioneer in visual studies of human and animal locomotion. This book is his complete collection of motion studies and is a treat for any animator. It is rather expensive and has actually doubled in price since I bought it, making this more of a luxury than other books on this list. However if you can afford it, definately think about investing in this amazing collection. Find it here.