Stop motion animation is a constant process of learning and relearning. As you gain experience and evolve as an artist, you inevitably face new challenges that require different skills.
Since we started making stop motion, we have been collecting books about animation to help us learn new skills that we can't even find online. Now we'd like to share with you some of the titles you'll find the most useful as you carve your career path in commercial animation.
Some of the books on this list are not necessarily about stop motion animation. But we believe you'll find these published works essential to help you better develop your craft on different levels.
Frame-by-Frame Stop Motion: The Guide to Non-Traditional Animation Techniques
Whenever we encounter a book about stop motion, it would often heavily focus on animating puppets. But as product stop motion artists, this type of skillset, though helpful, doesn't necessarily apply to us.
Thankfully, there's Tom Gasek's Frame-by Frame Stop Motion to teach some of us who aren't character animators. Although he's a veteran who worked on bigtime "puppet" films such as Chicken Run and Coraline, he focuses on non-traditional stop motion animation that is perfect for the type of work we do.
This information-dense book discusses new techniques from creating pixilation (animation that involves humans) to building flat lay setups. The second edition also covers working with programs such as After Effects and Dragonframe. And if that's not enough, it also includes interviews with fellow stop motion artists, such as the food stop motion pioneer PES.
The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video
Stop motion animation may be a special type of filmmaking, but it still follows the basic rules of cinema. That's why you must learn what those rules are as well. If you don't, the Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video is the book you need to read.
As the title suggests, this book discusses all the fundamentals of cinema, from lighting to editing. Although it doesn't tell you how to create stop motion animation, everything you'll learn in this book will still apply to your craft. Because even though you're building a scene frame by frame, you still have to know how to properly compose your shots, light them, and combine them into a coherent product.
Timing for Animation
Great animation--whether traditional 2d or stop motion--relies heavily on timing to create realistic movements. For instance, how long does a ball stay in the air when bouncing? That's precisely what we couldn't figure out when we were still learning to animate stop motion.
Thanks to the lessons from this book, we learned how to make the movements in our animations more realistic. This book's contents may primarily be about traditional 2D animation, but the concepts it contains are just as crucial for making smooth stop motion animation.
Designing Graphic Props for Filmmakers
We were drawn to this book because its author, Annie Atkins, was responsible for the graphic props used in Wes Anderson films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs, and The French Dispatch.
But of course, beyond Annie's name being attached to our favorite filmmaker, we were also genuinely interested in how artists create realistic props that help bolster the story any film is trying to convey.
This book doesn't precisely dive deep into the process of creating graphic props. But regardless, simply looking at the hundreds of visually stunning samples on its pages is enough to make you want to create unique pieces for your stop motion work. In fact, after reading this book, we were inspired to create a fake book cover in one of our first-ever animated shorts.
Think Now, Design Later
Even though we now work in a creative field, we came from an advertising and social media marketing background. So we see stop motion work through a different lens--the type that is eager to entertain and helps the client earn money.
As stop motion artists that create work for brands, you need to remember that you're a special breed of animator. That's why you must become familiar with the ins and outs of creative advertising, and this book will show you the ropes.
Although Think Now, Design Later doesn't tell you a single thing about stop motion animation, it teaches you how to think creatively and turn your ideas into an authentic product. This book dissects hundreds of successful advertising campaigns and shows you how you can create your own.
There are tons of great books related to stop motion animation out there. But we're confident that the five titles we shared with you will help you become a well-rounded animator. So feel free to collect them all or buy the one you think will help strengthen your weak spots.
Oh, and if you're a member and you type "I'm proud to be a commercial animator!" in the comments section, you get the chance to win a copy of The Animator's Survival Kit! And don't worry if you live outside the United States, we'll ship it to you for free!!!