Getting into stop-motion animation can be quite tricky if not prepared. There are so many different possibilities within the medium that you can try.
From claymation to paper-craft animation, it is important to experiment with as many styles as you can to see what you enjoy making. What is most important when starting out in stop-frame animation however is to first have a firm understanding of the fundamentals. Without these, you will never truly be able to experiment with the many different styles stop motion animation has to offer. Once you have a basic grasp of the principles of animation, nothing will be able to stop you from producing high-quality animations yourself. But where to start? There are so many amazing resources out there that can really help you in gaining an understanding of the art form, but we feel that there is nothing better than a good book in helping you begin learning as quickly as possible.
We wanted to give you a starting point for getting into animation that’s specifically tailored to those who want to study stop-motion. Here are five books that we here at the studio feel are perfect for those who are just starting out and really want to gain an in-depth understanding on just how the process of stop motion animation works, as well as those wanting to brush up on some of the essential skills.
Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation – Susannah Shaw
For a very thorough and in-depth look into the craft of stop-motion, look no further than this book by Susannah Shaw. With years of experience from working in the animation industry, several of them spent at British stop-motion animation studio Aardman, Susannah pours all her experiences from throughout her career into this book, creating one of the most comprehensive stop-motion guides available today. Now on its third edition, the book covers not only the animation process but in fact every element of the stop-frame animation process. This includes model-making techniques, camera setups, lighting, developing a story, and much more. This book is a great starting point for those who have no prior experience in stop-motion and are not sure where to start.
The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation – Ken Priebe
When working in a field like animation, you should always be looking to improve your skills and abilities in some way. Even experienced animators can find new techniques and shortcuts to try out that will help them in the long run of their animation careers. This is why we recommend The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation to those looking to take their stop-frame animation skills to the next level. The book covers tons of advanced techniques that are used by professional animation studios to this day, most of which we feel are slightly too advanced for a complete beginner unless you feel like a challenge! This book is super useful for finding some quick tips and techniques that you may not have realised were possible with stop-motion and that will increase your skillset even more!
Cracking Animation – Peter Lord
When people think of British stop-motion animation studios here in the UK, there’s usually one that comes to mind before any other. Aardman Animations, famous for creating the award-winning Wallace and Gromit, have been producing stop-motion animations since the early 1970s. Their back catalogue contains some of the greatest stop-frame animations of all time, including Chicken Run and The Wrong Trousers. It’s undeniable that the knowledge they have as an animation studio is second to none. This is why when Peter Lord, one of the studio’s founders, released a book covering stop-motion techniques, tips and tricks, it was naturally a huge hit. It is the perfect book for helping you begin your animation journey. Everything is easy to understand and well laid out, with easy to follow advice for those just starting out animating. However, the book is detailed enough for those who already have a bit of knowledge. Finally, as with every book on this list, Cracking Animation is specifically tailored for stop-motion animation thanks to the studio’s prestige with the medium.
Stop-motion Animation: Frame by Frame Film-making with Puppets and Models – Barry Purves
There is sometimes a tendency when writing stop-motion guide books to make them aimed more towards children starting out their careers. This is great in most cases as it makes it easier to understand for people completely new to the process of making animations. However, if you choose to begin your stop-motion animation careers at an older age, these books can sometimes be a bit too simple, leading you to look for other books go into more detail on the subject. Look no further than Stop-motion Animation: Frame by Frame Film-making with Puppets and Models. This book is perfect for those who are that bit older and want to jump in head first into the world of stop-motion. This book is incredibly in-depth, going into every element of the animation process from start to finish – you’ll have lots to get your teeth into.
Art of and Making of Stop-Motion Animation Books
Finally, on this list we wanted to stress the importance of looking at as much stop-motion content as you can. Watching and consuming lots of stop-frame animation is a great way to gain a feeling for how you would like to animate. Replicating styles and techniques are all steps to get you to a point where you’re happy with your animation. One of the greatest sources of this inspiration is in the form of film art books and ‘making-of’ books. These are released alongside certain films and show the behind the scenes process that goes into making them. They are often a wealth of information for anyone looking into the process of filmmaking, especially animation.
One personal recommendation we would make of a great behind-the-scenes book is The Making of Fantastic Mr Fox.
We as a studio all feel is a great learning resource for how the process of creating a stop-motion animation works. Director Wes Anderson brought his own unique artistic vision to the film Fantastic Mr Fox back in 2009, creating one of the best looking stop-motion films of the last decade. The making of book covers every element that went into creating the film from concept art all the way up to the finished film. Books like this and many others often give you a greater understanding of what the stop-frame animation process is like. So choose some stop-motion films you enjoy and have a look to see if there is an art book available for them. You won’t be disappointed!
We think this is a great starting point for anyone looking to create their own stop-motion animations. There is a great mix of books on this list for both beginners and animation veterans who want a refresher and to learn some new skills. If you enjoyed this blog and feel like you would like to learn more about animation, why not take a look at our blog covering five more animations books where we look at some titles that cover the subject in a more general sense!