Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Subscribe & Save Amazon Gift Card Offer blacklist blacklist blacklist  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Shop Now Kids Halloween

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Elemental Magic, Volume I: The Art of Special Effects Animation

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240811635
ISBN-10: 0240811631
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $12.83
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
Buy new
More Buying Choices
31 New from $29.94 20 Used from $28.61
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Save up to 80% on Textbook Rentals Rent Textbooks
$42.00 FREE Shipping. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Elemental Magic, Volume I: The Art of Special Effects Animation
  • +
  • Elemental Magic, Volume II: The Technique of Special Effects Animation (Animation Masters Title)
  • +
  • The Animator's Survival Kit: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators
Total price: $98.60
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


Now, finally classical effects animation gets its day in the sun with Joseph Gilland's fascinating new book. It's a revelation of the amazing blend of the art and craft behind the magic of this wonderful art form. -Don Hahn, Academy Award-nominated producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King

Veteran Disney animator Joe Gilland's informative book delivers, for the first time, the real nitty-gritty on the art of hand-drawn special effects. The mysteries of hos to believably animate abstract forms representing rain, fire, smoke, etc. are revealed in articulate prose, revelatory graphs, and elegantly beautiful sequential imagery. A must-have guide for animation pros, teachers, and students!
-John Canemaker, Academy Award-winning animator, internationally-renowned animation historian, and teacher 

About the Author

In his 32+ year animation career, he has worked with such studios as Walt Disney Feature Animation, Don Bluth Animation, Productions Pascal Blais and the National Film Board of Canada. At Walt Disney Feature Animation, he served as Supervisor of Visual Effects for the Disney features Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear. At Disney he also served as Head of Special Effects Units for the Disney features Kingdom of the Sun and Tarzan, and was Special Effects Animator on such notable titles as Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, James and the Giant Peach, Hercules and Mulan. He served as Designer and Supervisor for all 2D and 3D visual effects on the television series Silverwing, and Chaotic at Bardel Animation in Vancouver. He has also designed and directed a wide variety of television commercials. Clients include General Motors, CocaCola, Honda, MacDonald's, Gillette, Players Tobacco, Larrouse Dictionaries, and Radio Quebec. For almost three years, he was the Head of animation, and Digital Character animation at the Vancouver Film School. He lectures at animation schools in Canada, Europe and Asia, and has conducted workshops at animation festivals and schools around the world. he is a professional musician and performer as well. He has been writing professionally for over three years now, and has a bi-monthly column in the online Animation World Magazine, entitled 'The Animated Scene' which has an enormous readership around the world. He has also had articles published in Animation Magazine, the world's foremost industry magazine, as well as well as an article in 'Cartoons' The International Journal of Animation.


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (February 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240811631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240811635
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 10.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Gilland is an artist, animator, author, musician, singer/songwriter and avid motorcycle enthusiast. With over 30 years of experience in the animation industry as one of the world's most sought after special effects artists, Joseph was more than ready to write and illustrate his cornerstone animation book "Elemental Magic" His experience in the field took him to the very top at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio, where he was the head of the visual effects department for several years, most notably for the film 'Lilo & Stitch'. 'Elemental Magic' has been an international hit, selling well world-wide. The first book of its kind, it is a beautifully illustrated masterpiece, revealing long kept industry secrets of just how the elements have been animated through history. Based on Vancouver Island now, Joseph is working on an accompanying volume to Elemental Magic. He is in demand around the world of animation, bringing his 'Elemental Magic -An Organic Approach to Special Effects Animation' workshops and lectures to studios, schools and festival, in North America, Europe and Asia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Grant Beaudette VINE VOICE on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been hoping for years that someone would write a comprehensive book on 2D effects animation. Something more than the little "how to draw and flapping flag" or "how to make a fire cycle" bits that get tacked on in other animation books.

Disney veteran Joseph Gilland has finally given us that first book dedicated to 2D effects animation. He's broken down effects into four broad categories (water/liquids, fire/smoke, props/solid objects and magical effects) and laid out the principles needed to bring them to life on paper.

Since every real-world splash and flame is unique, Elemental Magic isn't so much of a "how to draw" type book as it is a "how to approach" book. Gilland breaks down the basic behaviors of different types of matter and the working methods needed for an animator to capture the dynamic essence of an effect without being tied to a hyper-real style or getting bogged down in an unmanageable level of detail.

And this book doesn't solely apply to hand-drawn effects. Each section on a type of matter includes several pages on how to apply these classical animation principles to digital effects work. How to get the most out the computer's ability to do the heavy lifting on effects.

Hopefully this isn't the last book ever published on 2D effects animation. Gilland himself mentions that he's only scratching the surface with this book and that water, smoke or any other element could warrant a full volume treatment.

I hope someone takes him up on that offer, and with Elemental Magic we now have a solid foundation to build on.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andre Lawrence TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*Aesthetic criticism
*What's inside, Thematic material reviewed
*Secrets of capturing Disney-esque animation revealed
*Who's this book for?

If the old adage, "Never judge a book by its cover," holds true, then Elemental Magic certainly reinforces this notion. If there's any concern, it's that the wonders of this book may be passed up because of this nondescript cover layout. I also feel the author could have come up with a more intriguing sub-title.

When I first opened this soft cover, rectangular book, and I thought "OMG!" Inside, this book looks like an illustrator's private sketch book. Hundreds of beautifully hand-drawn, colored sketches: some segregated from the text, others used as a background (watermarked) with the text overlaid.

Next to each illustration is a brief, but thorough explanation of the process. And, the key to understanding this message is summed up in one word: energy.

Joseph Gilland, the author, is a 30-year animator and has worked on some of the biggest animation features over the past 20+ years including Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Tarzan, Pocohantas and a few others. Some of the sketches that became film cells are reproduced with his notes below the art!

The book is outline with two (2) brief chapters before he introduces the philosophy of animation: The Preface and The History of Classical Animation. The remainder of the book gives step by step analysis not of how to sketch a flame or construct an iceberg, for instance, but of the techniques of how to get in touch with what he refers to as the "energy of the elements." How does one capture the essence of a burning flame? Shattered glass? A wisp of smoke or the pixie dust floating through gust of wind?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Noda on May 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Joseph Gilland has done a great service by creating this book, which intricately details both the thought process and raw mechanics behind traditional, hand-drawn effects animation - a discipline that rarely takes center stage in a character-oriented animation industry. I've been looking for a resource like this for years, and there really hasn't been anything like it before this book. I can whole-heartedly recommend it for any animator with an interest in broadening their understanding of effects, the drawings contained within are worth the price alone.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Length: 0:16 Mins
Joseph Gilland is an animator with over 30 years of experience. He has worked with Disney and other studios on movies like Lilo and Stitch, Mulan among many other titles.

When he wrote this book, there wasn't any book dedicated to classical hand drawn special effects animation. It's great to be able to highlight the work done by special effects artists, who are usually the unsung heroes of animation -- if their work is good, nobody notices!

This book focuses more on dealing with liquids, fire, smoke, explosions and (other-worldly) magic. The chapters are broken down into the order of covering design concepts, discussing scale and perspective, then moving to breakdown the energy, action path and timing.

Joseph Gilland presents his topic with examples on his own, complete with tips and common mistakes to avoid. You'll learn stuff like how animators can remove details and yet keep things realistic. For example, when dealing with liquids, he would talk about the different factors that affect animation, like water density, force, gravity, viscosity, after splash, etc. The various examples include the simple water droplet to creating waves on which surfers surf on.

There's also a chapter on props. These are stuff like breaking branches, falling leaves, moving fabric, crumbling clay, etc. Animating special effects is essentially animating energy. Throughout the book, there are a lot of detailed explanation on how different elements and objects interact with one another.

While the book is on classic hand drawn animation, there are also some non-technical writeup on how you can use computers to aid in creating these effects.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Elemental Magic, Volume I: The Art of Special Effects Animation
This item: Elemental Magic, Volume I: The Art of Special Effects Animation
Price: $42.00
Ships from and sold by