Animation History

100 Years of Disney Animation

Discover the secrets that have kept Disney at the forefront of animation for the past 100 years.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Studios.

Founded by Walt and his brother Roy on October 16th, 1923, the Disney Bros Studio, as it was then known, has grown beyond recognition to become a vast media empire.

Despite The Walt Disney Company now being involved in many other areas, animation has always been synonymous with the Disney name.

In honour of the anniversary, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look back at the history of Disney animation through the lens of the classic book, The Illusion of Life.

This vast volume by former Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston was released in 1981 and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the classic Disney films were made.

Whilst the book obviously doesn’t touch upon anything produced in the past 42 years, everything made during that period was built upon the lessons shared within The Illusion of Life.

One of the main reasons that The Illusion of Life is typically recommended to new animators is that it was here that Frank and Ollie first laid out the 12 Principles of Animation. These were lessons learnt the hard way by the pioneers of Disney animation. Originally only shared within the studio, The Illusion of Life spread that knowledge to the wider world.

Whilst the chapter on the Principles of Animation is relatively short, there is far more to be learnt. The book covers a mix of history and practical information, and it really is a resource that you can draw fresh insights from throughout your career.

If you’re interested to learn more about the book, alongside a little bit of Disney history, then I hope you’ll enjoy my latest YouTube video.


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