Animation 1 by Preston Blair
Short, simple, cheap, ideal for people very new to animation, this book is written by revered animator Preston Blair. I will warn you that while the book isn’t very thick, it’s so big (like, A3 size) that it might struggle to fit through your letterbox.
The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams
The bible. If you can only afford one animation book, get this one. It’s a huge, weighty tome crammed full of tips from some of the greats of animation, as recounted by Richard Williams (director of animation for ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’), who adds his own stellar advice. There’s enough content to keep you busy for a long time. Definitely suitable for beginners.
Elemental Magic by Joseph Gilland
As far as I know, this book (and its successor) are the only ones out there that focus on the art of 2D effects animation (fire, water, smoke, explosions, etc.). I only became aware of it recently and what little I’ve read of it so far has some very sound advice.
Drawn to Life by Walt Stanchfield
I haven’t read much of this but it comes highly recommended. A collection of lectures by Disney legend Walt Stanchfield who “influenced such talented artists as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, and John Lasseter”. There’s also a follow-up for those interested.
I would recommend the Andrew Loomis books here for drawing advice, but while they’re freely available on the internet, I’m not sure what their legal status is.
Randy Haycock’s Art and Animation
Randy Haycock is a former Disney animator, now turned tutor, who gives out terrific advice, whether you’re just starting out or looking for ways to get into the animation industry. While he’s not hugely active, he will answer any questions you have. His whole blog is a goldmine.
Frame by Frame
What it says on the tin really - snippets of animation in GIF form, broken down into individual frames for you to study. The blog recently started numbering the frames, which makes it easier to study timing.
I can’t say I’ve visited Cartoon Brew’s website much but their Tumblr offers a great plethora of advice - not just for animation, but for filmmaking in general as well. Good food for thought for anyone planning out their shots for short films.
51 Great Animation Exercises to Master
As the webpage says, the best way to learn is to do. Open up Pencil and try to do them all. They start from easy, with a gentle curve to more difficult subjects along the way.
If you run out, here are some more
A Free Virtual Life Drawing Class
I agree with Richard Williams when he says that in order to be a good animator you have to be a good draughtsman (you have to be good at drawing). And for animation, gestures are key.
Randy Haycock advises “Life drawing for animators has two fundamental purposes. To learn anatomy and to learn strong posing techniques. I recommend shorter poses, maybe 2-3 minutes, not longer than 5 minutes. This allows you to focus on the gesture and not get caught up in the details or in complex rendering of the forms. Focus on a strong (clear line of action, rhythms, etc.) pose and watch how the forms work into one another. Try to capture anatomical forms simply. You don’t want a lot of bumps and angles interrupting your overall gesture.”
So set the clock and start filling up your sketchbook.
I hope some of this stuff was helpful.