Published earlier this year, Animation Sketchbooks is a welcome anthology for anyone who is curious about the painstaking process that goes in to producing animations. It’s a lavish, weighty tome, with 320 pages, which are for the most part elaborately illustrated by the 52 animation artists that grace its pages.

It’s as fantastically visual as you’d expect – the bold index includes autobiographical thumbnails for each artist so you can quickly identify who you are looking for (as in the image above) or just select at will the type of technique or style that leaps out at you. Every contribution to the book was traditional and made on paper, no digitally produced drawings made it in, giving the sense that with every entry you can feel the artist’s hand in producing the sketches.

Animator and puppeteer, Laura Heit, created the book from her own curiosity about how her peers tackled their creative projects, and she generously shares the outpourings of her own mind on p.87. Through this compendium she offers animation enthusiasts, as she puts it in the introduction: ‘an exclusive unveiling of the beauty, sincerity, and mania of the animator’s intimate process’ -an astute observation, equally balancing the craft, aesthetic and the obsession that drives animators to do what they do.

Deep Well by Nancy Andrews

Deep Well by Nancy Andrews

Working in animation, collections like this are a gift; being able to glimpse into the thoughts of many well known international animators, and a few that I’ve had the delight to work with, is a joy. There are several contributors that were previously unknown to me, and going by their offerings in these pages, I am glad to have discovered – really loving Nancy Andrews‘ striking collage animations and ink drawings.

Animators sharing their sketchbooks include: Martha Colburn, Luis Cook, Avish Khebrehzadeh, Isabel Herguera, Don Hertzfeldt, Stephen Irwin, Mirai Mizue, Allison Schulnik, Jim Trainor and Koji Yamamura.

You can buy Animation Sketchbooks from Thames and Hudson and Amazon.