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Books on clay animation – for animators

Here is an essential collection of 4 books on clay animation. These cover everything from traditional technique, experimental techniques, to understanding the industry and the history of clay animation in the US.

For animators

Secrets of Clay Animation Revealed 3! (2000) by Marc Spess

A must have for animators and those moving on to more advanced clay animation. This will teach you how to make several types of armatures, how to sculpt puppets, lighting, gauges, video reference and so much more. Although the layout might not be the best and its black and white, it is an invaluable resource for animators.

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Stop Motion Tutorial DVD Master Course by Marc Spess

 You can buy the DVD course here.

He also has a community of stop motion and clay enthusiasts on his website https://www.animateclay.com/

Fluid Frames: Experimental Animation with Sand, Clay, Paint, and Pixels (2016) by Corrie Frances Parks

This is a beautiful book by an animation artist. It covers animating with clay as well as sand and paint, but it opens up the possibilities by inviting you to experiment and find your own style and push the boundaries of what has been done. Alongside plenty of practical advice there is also the pioneers and contemporary examples of artists. It covers not only the stop motion aspect of these mediums but takes them on into the digital aspects of how to manipulate them further. A must have for anyone wishing to make original and unique work.

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She also has a useful website to go with the book, where you will find tutorial and inspiring films to watch.

Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation (1999) by Peter Lord

Great for both children and adults, this gives both a history of animation and in particular of the Aardman studios, it looks at the different jobs within the industry and also provides a guide to making a clay film.

For students and historians

Clay Animation: American Highlights 1908 to the Present (New York: Twayne, 1994)by Micheal Frierson

This book won the McLaren-Lambart Award from the National Film Board of Canada for the Best Scholarly Book on Animation for 1995. “An excellent book on some sections of animation history that are rarely discussed in any detail in other books.”

Micheal Frierson also has a lecture on YouTube: The Context and Milestones of American Clay Animation.

I hope you find one of these books to be just what you need to improve your methods, understanding or appreciation of clay animation.

Thanks for your time.

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Lucy Lee