Monday, 23 February 2009

The Illustion of Life

The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas is every animators dream. A book that teaches you the inside tips of the greatest animation studio in the world. But it does more than teach you tips, it helps you to understand what you are trying to achieve by creating animation, by making things move and the title of the book perfectly sums it up. When drawing cartoons you are creating the illusion of life, you are not creating drawing after drawing, or sequences or comedy you are trying to convince the viewer that what they are watching is real and did actually happen.

I have read this book from front to back and frequently refer to it for tips. Each section is well articulated and broken down, making things understandable and simple. Who would have thought animation could seem so easy, but I guess after working at the Disney studio it becomes second nature to talk about and communicate your ideas concisely and precisely.

The Twelve Principles of animation have become my 10 Commandments and once I saw all of the techniques listed and read each of the ideas, my animation improved on the spot. Suddenly, thing weren't static. They have blood, veins and arteries and I could see the sinew and muscles moving beneath their skin.

Along side all of the great writing there are hundreds of examples of different practises, skills and drawings from the animation studio, including hundreds of original sketches and drawings from Disney animated classics. Seeing these images that went on to become shots and drawings in full colour movies was incredibly inspiring and it sent me on a huge research craze across the Internet and through the library. I have collected over 500 hundred research images of original drawings from all of my favourite studios, including pictures of storyboards, layout shots and examples of lining.

This books has been a fantastic resource for me for over a year now and I pick it up everyday. With time constraints and deadlines I feel I haven't been able to spend as much time learning from it as I might like. Hopefully this will change when I finished College and can spend more time doing exercises.

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