Cartoon Animation (Collectors) by Preston Blair

May 16, 2011

Preston Blair’s Animation was one of the first books that I added to my animation library many years ago. It is said by many industry professionals to be the best “how to” book on cartoon animation ever published. He went on to produce more books and most of the content from all have been brought together in this single 224-page volume under the title Cartoon Animation.

This comprehensive book is packed with drawings to inspire the animator. It has an invaluable number of walk cycles that can be used as a guide for your own animation. The lip synch examples are also extremely useful.

Preston Blair began his animation career in the early 1930s at the Universal studio under Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan. In the late 1930s he went to the Disney studio where he animated cartoon short subjects, Mickey Mouse scenes in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice section of Fantasia, and the hippo-alligator dance in Fantasia’s “Dance of the Hours” sequence. He also did some work on Disney’s Pinocchio and Bambi.

Blair left Disney after the 1941 Disney animator’s strike, and was hired to work for Tex Avery’s unit at MGM. There, he became particularly noted for animating the titular female character in Red Hot Riding Hood. In the late 1940s, Blair teamed with Avery animator Michael Lah to direct several Barney Bear cartoons.

Blair continued his career in animation into the 1960s, working on The Flintstones at Hanna-Barbera. His first book, Animation, was published in 1948 and originally included images of the famous MGM & Disney cartoon characters he had animated, who were redrawn to obscure their origins in the second edition of the book.

Preston Blair shares his practical knowledge to explain and demonstrate the magic of cartoon animation as well as many of his techniques. It describes how to: create a cartoon character’s shape, personality, features and mannerisms; develop movements such as walking, running, stretching and dancing; construct dialogue and co-ordinate it with movement; and includes familiar and famous sketches, drawings and other artwork.

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It gives a comprehensive insight into all aspects of the art of traditional cartoon drawing and animation. This book gives that insight from a professional perspective, in a readily understood format. Throughout the book there is guidance on how to create engaging characters and action, by emphasising expression and communication through face, body and movement. It helps the reader appreciate and to start practising the crafts, skills and lessons learnt by professionals in the development of this art form.

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