Book for Illustrators: The Animators Survival Kit

book reviews for illustrators and writers

Author: Richard Williams
ISBN: 978 0 571 23834 7

As most illustrators, I am always on the look out for books that will show me something new and thought it would be a good idea to share my findings and my top books. Please feel free to make your own suggestions and share in the comments.

The Animator's Survival KitThe Animators Survival Kit is targeted at animators, hoping to learn a thing or two from the ‘greats’ about space, anatomy, and weight (to name a few). But I found this to be one of the most usual reference books for illustrators as well. Animators have to know from frame to frame, but as illustrators we always have to capture the moment of action. We have to enhance the drawing and bring with it the full potential, as, unlike animators who have endless frames to show movement, we only have one.

What illustrators also tend to do is stick to a ‘formula’ where once we have mastered a look, we stick to it. For example, when drawing a person running, we might stick to the classic, one leg stretched out, the other bend, one arm forward, the other behind. But that is not the only post in running. What about the body shape of the person? Are they a large person, or a skinny person? What happens to the large person’s belly when they run? Does it not move? Where is the weight? What happens to the skinny person’s back? Are they leaning forward? Does their neck extend?

Richard Williams covers and answers these type of questions in the book and also takes it one step more. There are pages and pages of characters doing movement, frame-by-frame covering a range of positions, styles and facial expressions. He not only talks about ‘stretching and shrinking’ but shows it in simple pen and blue pencil art.

You can literally open the book up and on a single page get dozens of references for your character. In the expansion edition he also touches on animals and how they weight shifts and their body sways.

I highly recommend this book for illustrators, both who are starting out, as well as for those looking to touch up and possible learn something new.

Purchase Book from Readers Warehouse

Examples from The Animator’s Survival Kit:

Pressure and weight sneaking timing
Cat example Eyes


Review Crew
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