Legendary three-time Oscar-winning animator Richard Williams, who died in 2019, was best known to the world for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and to the animation industry for The Animator’s Survival Kit, his definitive instructional book that later became a DVD set and iPad app. Based on masterclasses that Williams gave in the United States and Europe, the book provides the basic principles of animation that every animator, in every genre, needs to know. Visit any animation studio and you’ll see copies on shelves next to practically every workstation.
If the book had one drawback, it was that, at almost 400 pages and three-and-a-half pounds, it wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you could toss in a backpack and carry around with you. Now that problem has been solved with a new series of short guides that present the Survival Kit’s most essential chapters in easy-to-carry, easy-to-study guides.
“There was a book project Dick and I were working on just before he died that has now come to fruition,” says his widow and longtime collaborator Imagen “Mo” Sutton. “We took key chapters from the book and made them into four ‘minis’ – handy-dandy, easy-to-throw-in-a-bag-or-backpack-sized books.”
Published by Faber to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original book, the minis are now available in the UK and will be published internationally later in the year. “Dick was able to hand-write the introductions to each one of them before he became too ill,” Sutton adds. “So it’s a rather lovely commemoration event.”
The four volumes (with links) are:
Walks are full of personality. Walks reveal the character, they tell the story of the person. In this mini, Williams provides the building blocks of how to construct walks, using stick figures to make it easy to learn, copy and understand.
As a director, whatever your idea is, you want to put it over, so the main thing is to be very clear. The director’s job is to hold everything together so that the animator can give the performance. Williams shows how this can be achieved with flexibility and contrast. With regard to acting and dialogue, Williams’ basic advice is simple: do one thing at a time.
How do we get snap and vitality into our performance while also keeping the figure stable and solid? The answer: successive breaking of joints to give flexibility. In this mini, Williams stresses the importance of knowing where the weight is in every drawing – to be conscious of where it’s coming from, what it’s traveling over, and where it’s going.
As with walks, the way we run shows our character and personality. Williams demonstrates how everything you can do with walks, you can also do with runs.
This mini includes a collection of Williams’ runs, jumps and skips, inspired by some of the cleverest artists from the Golden Age of animation.