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4 GREAT books for Visual Effects and Animation

Today I have 4 book recommendations you have to read if you are starting or want to have a basic understanding of VFX, Animation and Games. And yes you read right - book recommendations. Personally I am more likely to watch a YouTube video like the one below than reading a book but hardcover books still have some unique features online content struggles with.

1. quality

I don’t say that online content doesn’t have quality - it does. But it is much easier to create online content without any quality checks at all. I mean I can literally tell you how to do 3D or to script without any clue of what I am saying - without you even noticing. (I have a clue of what I am saying. I have … degrees.)

The mills you have to overcome to publish a printed book are huge. That means there is time and checks involved which also means on average a book is probably better researched than a video or online article - for now at least.

2. structure

Books often focus on teaching structural understanding and fundamental elements. Currently online content is great for looking up information but there are not that many awesome learn series out there including on YouTube … besides mine of course.

3. physicality

There is still a certain feeling when holding a physical book and going through the pages. It feels like the content is contained and easier to grasp even if I wish for a search function sometimes.

The Art of 3D Computer Animation

and Effects

The first book is also the most basic when it comes to 3D and computer graphics. Especially if you are interested or part of the Animation industry this is a must read. It not only goes through all the fundamental topics of 3D & CG. It also teaches you the terminologies of topics you should know even if you don’t actively use them like camera or light setups. It's also a great book for Producers and people working with artists.

I personally used this book as a reference for my bachelor thesis about “Structuring and creating 3D studio pipelines”. Now you know it's good! Especially if you are new to most topics it couldn’t hurt to read it from cover to cover just to have a basic idea of all the terms and tasks which will come up in the next few years.

The VES Handbook of Visual Effects

The Visual Effects Society is a global professional honorary society representing the visual effects practitioners which also tries to unify the industry and their book The VES Handbook of Visual Effects does exactly that. This book - which is more of a dictionary - allows you to look up most terms you could stumble upon during your path in Visual Effects.

Talking about VES - did you know that the first clip in the intro is called Breaking Point and we won the VES award for “Outstanding Visual Effects in a student project”?

Watch the full short here.

The Art and science of digital compositing Digital Compositing

for Film and Videos

Since a 2D image is literally the main end result of your work I can recommend these book about compositing. You will get a basic understanding of image processing, masks, color spaces, passes, pixels and bits. Even if it is not your job to create 2D images because you are a modeler or rigger. I promise you sooner or later you will need to, especially with a deadline breathing down your neck. Better be prepared!

Books seem and in some cases are old fashioned and outdated especially in this industry but there are still enough gold nuggets out there outdating the bending online opinions of what is new and how it should be done. Look out for them!

- Alex

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Watch the video for more details and fun:


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