Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Books: Your Career in Animation

Since I read a lot of books, and thus have a relatively endless supply of books to post about on my blog, I decided that I should probably just start labeling these blog entries with the title of the targeted book. Why I didn't just do this to begin with, I have no idea. But regardless, I just finished a book yesterday that I thought I should promote.

Title: Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive (David B. Levy)

Who should read it: Animators and related fields, some film production people.

Why is it awesome?:

I knew this book would be good the moment I saw the cover. Samurai Jack fighting Aku? This book has to be amazing! Just be careful when you open it, though, because you will be instantly buried under a veritable landslide of information about the animation field of work. I was impressed at how much this book covers in just 235 pages. Your Career in Animation explains what looking for work might be like, how to effectively network, how to play nice in the workplace, how to pitch, how to be successful in animation, how to freelance, how to make a living doing indie films, etc. Honestly, if I listed all of the information it covers it would go on for a paragraph or two, so I'll spare you the text wall. (A few of my favorite sections include When Creators Attack..., The Three Nevers, and the Animation Career Strategy Survival List. If you ever pick up a copy of the book, keep an eye out for those segments.)

Apart from the sheer amount of information you get from Your Career in Animation, the author also includes quotes and advice from animation titans, photos and stills of animated shorts, and stories from the industry that further illustrate, clarify, and expand upon the information in each chapter. Also helpful is the breakdown of different jobs in the animation field (such as directing, sheet timing, story boarding, etc.) that helps to explain what people are looking for and what you should be prepared to show a potential employer. And possibly the best feature of the book is the Appendix. You know, the part of the book that most people skip? Well, go back and take a look at this one, because it lists festivals, events, schools, and other resources that animators should be aware of. Really, the word "goldmine" pretty accurately sums up this book for anyone interested in animation as a career. Pick it up, read it, and then re-read it. If, when you finish, your book refuses to close because of how many placeholders and dog-eared pages you put in there (like my copy), you can consider this book well worth the purchase.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Book a Day

Because my Christmas Break is now over, I thought it would be a good idea to do a new entry for my blog (which was sadly neglected in favor of Christmas and all of the wonderful joys and anxieties that go with it). But instead of doing the predictable thing and uploading some digitized project bits, I thought I would do a mini sequel to my how-to-draw blog post. Feel free to run screaming from this webspace. :)

Title: Character Mentor (by Tom Bancroft)

Who should read it: Casual and Advanced artists, illustrators, comic book/graphic novel artists, animators.

Why is it awesome?:

Quite a few people are a aware that I basically swear by Mr. Bancroft's first book (Creating Characters with Personality), so I was incredibly stoked to get my hands on the sort-of sequel. I read it the day it came in the mail, and I was NOT disappointed. While the first book focused on various aspects of character design, this book focuses on what to do with your character once you've made it amazing. Touching on subjects like perspective, line of action, posing, movement, emoting, and composition, among other things. I think my personal favorite sections were the discussion about different types of shots (Choosing Your Shot), the eyes, mouth, and neck, and the whole chapter on posing.

Unlike the original book, this how-to does not really have an assignment at the end of each chapter that allows the reader to test what they've learned. However, Mr. Bancroft included assignments that he has given out before, which include both the student art and notes on improving what was turned in. For those of us who learn from critiques, this is invaluable information. Also returning in Character Mentor are the assignments done by professional guests. It's always fun to see how different professionals approach the same set of given parameters, so be sure to take a look at those.

I highly recommend Character Mentor to any aspiring artist. Paired with Creating Characters with Personality it covers a lot of basic (and advanced) character design and drawing techniques that any artist would benefit from knowing. Pick it up and "learn by example how to bring your characters to life". :D