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If there ever was a Bible for Animation, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s masterwork volume The Illusion of Life is certainly it. Even artists with a fleeting curiosity of animation will benefit from a read, and naturally all animators that truly respect the craft have pored over these pages time and time again.

It must have seemed like a bomb went off in 1981 when this book of secrets was revealed to the art world- everyone was handed the keys to the inner workings of the reigning master of life movement: The Walt Disney Studios.

This is not a recap or a chapter by chapter summary of The Illusion of Life or the Principles of Animation. Countless people have paraphrased, dissected and interpreted that information before me, but I believe that everyone that takes the time to ingest this book will come away with their own independent thoughts and reactions.

IllusionbookThis is the same book I assign in my Ringling animation classes, and every week the artists and I form a circle (what I call the Campfire segment of class) and engage in wonderful discussions of the content within. Art and animation cannot exist in a vacuum. Artist interaction and open debate is paramount to achieving more than the sum of all parts.

Here are some of my thoughts and highlighted scribbles from within – and I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Please leave a comment and start a discussion!