Game animation is an important part of the development process, that is becoming more important all the time. Gone is the day when animation involved moving a simple skeleton to move limbs on a low poly character. We expect characters to move in believable, human ways on par with many movies. We can control things such as individual muscles in a face to the amount that fat should wobble. As this fidelity gets higher, the expectations of animators also increase.
Whilst game animation is not the most well documented of professions, many of the traditional rules of animation, from 2D TV to 3D movies, carry over well and so study of any type of animation has its uses. I’ll break down some of the books that were most useful while I was studying game animation, as well as some of the best game animation books that have come out since then.
Hailed as the Holy Book of animation whilst I was studying game animation, the Animator’s Survival Kit has possibly been the most influential book on the profession ever written, and its knowledge is still relevant to this day. it has an easy-to-follow style with lots of images and explanations that cover everything from the animation fundamentals to the best ways to really sell movement. The book is very easy to follow and the sketches simple enough that you can draw along. The book is entirely focused on 2D hand-drawn animation, so some of the finer details are not relevant to digital animation, but the foundations and techniques are still highly relevant things that you will need to know to make good animation.
You don’t need me to tell you what an influence Disney has had on animation. They were so good at animation that they have become one of the world’s biggest brands and own everything from Marvel to Star Wars. Most of the biggest movie blockbusters now belong to Disney. So what is their secret to success? This book by some of the Disney animators goes into that question in-depth and explains how you can create animations using the same techniques as the king of animation.
This one is a bit different Ed Hooks has become a mainstay in the animation industry and he specializes in teaching animators how to act. At first, this might seem strange as animators aren’t putting themselves in the game. But as any number of behind-the-scenes animations show, to get the most out of your animation you will want to record yourself acting out these scenes and then working with that as your base when animating. The reason is that there are lots of micro motions and shifts of weight that you might not think about without seeing it. Whilst any acting skills are useful, this book goes into how to do it specifically for animators and will have you overacting in your bedroom in no time.
Many of the foundational books in the animation field are focused on traditional 2D animation. With 3D being a much newer field it takes much of its knowledge from 2D. Whilst 2D animation is incredibly useful to look at and study, it won’t get us all the way to being a 3D game animator. If you are interested in 3D game animation then this book will cover more of the specifics of how 3D animation works, from the programs you will use to how you achieve the best looking results.
Now we have covered some of the foundational books of animation, we can move on to something more specialized to the field we’re interested in. Game Anim focuses much more on the games industry, covering everything from what you will be doing to what to expect from the work environment. It breaks down the different roles and responsibilities of the job and goes into a great amount of detail. Game Anim is the best of the game animation books out there at the moment. This is the book you want to read if you understand animation fundamentals and are interested in working in games as it covers more or less every point you need.