Delve into the creative minds of some of the best designers, animators, studios and artists on the planet with our guide to essential books you simply must read.

In a creative world dominated by Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, online tutorials and interactive forums, reaching for a paper-&-ink book seems to have become an arcane art. Yet there are some incredible words of wisdom and pages filled with inspiration that can sit, poised, on your home or studio bookshelf just waiting to offer advice, guidance or a starting point for your next creative project.

From practical advice on dealing with typography and design through to producing an indie movie or crafting animation worthy of a Pixar release, we’ve scoured the world of creative publishing to bring you the best design books that everyone should own.

These represent the best thinking and offer the best starting points for students and professionals alike – and everyone can benefit from their pages. So log off the Internet, fill up a mug of coffee and prepare to turn over a new leaf.

THE BARNBROOK BIBLE: THE GRAPHIC DESIGN OF JONATHAN BARNBROOK

Author: Jonathan Barnbrook
Publisher: Rizzoli
Year of publication: 2007
Pages: 320
Price: £35


UK designer and typographer Jonathan Barnbrook is a sociopolitical designer, something that extends even to his fonts, which bear names like Bastard, Exocet and Manson.

The Barnbrook Bible is a monograph by and about this activist, designer and font maker. Barnbrook has been dubbed a ‘craftsman with a conscience’, and believes design should be a catalyst for discussion and change.

In addition to art directing the Adbusters magazine, Barnbrook puts great effort into producing copyright-free work that highlights political and social injustices. Here, he mixes images, text, and wordplay, to create a unique project that reflects his revolutionary typefaces and graphic designs, while presenting a body of new and unpublished work.

DESIGNING DESIGN

Author: Kenya Hara
Publisher: Lars Muller
Date of publication: 2007
Pages: 470
Price: €39.90


Representing a new generation of designers in Japan, Kenya Hara pays tribute to his mentors, using long overlooked Japanese icons and images in much of his work.

In 2001, he became a board member for the Japanese ‘brandless’ label MUJI, and has moulded the identity of this successful corporation as communication and design advisor ever since.

Hara stresses the importance of “emptiness” in both the visual and philosophical traditions of Japan, and its application to design, made visible by means of numerous examples from his own work with MUJI. He also examines his designs for the opening and closing ceremonies programs for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

JOEL DESGRIPPES AND MARC GOBÉ ON THE EMOTIONAL BRAND EXPERIENCE

Authors: Joel Desgrippes and Marc Gobé
Publisher: Rockport
Date of publication: 2007
Pages: 208
Price: £29.99 (hardback)


This title shares the expertise of the world-renowned Desgrippes Gobé team on a design subject for which they are widely recognized – emotional branding. The authors provide practical information by not only reviewing their own work, but by looking at other strong work in the field.

They seek to provide a better understanding of how to offer clients designs and branding strategies that make a difference by connecting on an emotional level. Using sketches, notes and final pieces, the authors reveal the design processes that have made them so successful.

They explore the successes and failures of particular projects to help readers understand how they achieved the end result.

AGI: GRAPHIC DESIGN SINCE 1950

Authors: Ben and Emily Bos
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Date of publication: 2007
Pages: 800
Price: £36


The AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) unites the world’s leading graphic designers and artists in a professional club of common interest and achievement. Since its inception in 1951, its members have been responsible for the identity design of most of the world’s top corporations and institutions, as well as for countless examples of globally known packaging, publications, illustration and posters.

This book presents biographies of every AGI member to date – about 600 – illustrated by examples of their work, as well as a history of the AGI and its landmark achievements. Among those featured are Alan Fletcher, Adrian Frutiger, Milton Glaser, and Irma Boom.

THE ART OF LOOKING SIDEWAYS

Author: Alan Fletcher
Publisher: Phaidon Press
Date of publication: 2001
Pages: 1,067
Price: £24.95


Alan Fletcher, who died in 2006, is among the most influential figures in British graphic design of the past 40 years. The Art of Looking Sideways is designed to be opened at random, and, at over 1,000 pages, it’s a spectacular treatise on visual thinking.

As a “guide to visual awareness”, it is a concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher’s mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, colour and layout combined with a “jackdaw” eye for the strange and profound.

Arranged into 72 chapters with titles like Colour, Noise, Chance, Camouflage and Handedness, Fletcher described the book as “a journey without a destination”. While designers and students might rifle through its pages for ideas, others will enjoy its gently provocative mind-teasers.

1000 GRAPHIC ELEMENTS: SPECIAL DETAILS FOR DISTINCTIVE DESIGNS

Author: Wilson Harvey
Publisher: Rockport
Year of publication: 2004
Pages: 320
Price: £27.50


Wilson Harvey is a London-based integrated design and marketing agency with a focus on producing high-end communications for a wide range of clients. In this book, it explores the small details that make a piece shine, examining 1,000 embellishments that are available to graphic designers across all kinds of projects, including books, brochures, invitations, menus, CDs and annual reports.

Content is organized by embellishment type: a designer searching for an unusual binding will find a selection of ideas in a binding section. Other topics covered include fasteners, graphics, unique materials, embossing, debossing, speciality inks, type treatments, interesting colour usage, add-ons, and die-cuts.

THE ELEMENTS OF TYPOGRAPHIC STYLE VERSION 3.0

Author: Robert Bringhurst
Publisher: Hartley & Marks
Date of publication: 2005
Pages: 352
Price: $29.95 (£15.93)


When The Elements of Typographic Style first appeared in 1992 it was hailed as a classic in its field. Amateurs and professionals since have embraced the book for the clarity it brings to the art of typography.

Version 3.0 encompasses the technological changes that have been introduced since the first edition. These technological shifts have made font editing more important to good typography than it was. This new edition will appeal to serious typographers and everyone intrigued by the beauty of human language.

STOP STEALING SHEEP AND FIND OUT HOW TYPE WORKS

Authors: Erik Spiekermann and E.M Ginger
Publisher: Adobe
Date of publication: 2002
Pages: 192
Price: £22.99


American type designer Frederic Goudy once said, “Anyone who would letterspace lower case would steal sheep.” Spiekerman and Ginger sink decades of typographic experience into a unique guidebook that shows type is easy to use, easy to understand, and in the right hands, a powerful communications tool.

They explain what typography is, and offer design guidance in choosing type for legibility, meaning, and aesthetic appeal. The reader is guided through all aspects of typography, from the history and mechanics of type, to training the eye to recognize and choose typefaces.

First published in 1993, the book is now updated with new typefaces, fonts and illustrations.

PAINTING THE DIGITAL RIVER: HOW AN ARTIST LEARNED TO LOVE THE COMPUTER

Author: James Faure Walker
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Date of publication: 2006
Pages: 352
Price:
£17.99 (hardback)


This is James Faure Walker’s personal odyssey from his first work with traditional media to his pioneering experiments with digital tools. A witty attempt to make sense of the introduction of computer tools into the creation of art, the book explores the nature of art in a high-technology world.

Drawing on his experiences as a painter and digital artist, Faure Walker tells of learning to paint with the computer, of misunderstandings across the art and science divide, of software limitations, and conversations between the mainstream and digital art worlds.

He also challenges the assumption that digital means different – a common challenge for all artists.

DESIGNING INTERACTIONS

Author: Bill Moggridge
Publisher: MIT Press
Date of publication: 2006
Pages: 800
Price: £25.95 (hardback)


Author Bill Moggridge introduces us to 43 influential designers who have shaped our interaction with technology. Moggridge – who in 1981 was the designer of the first ever laptop – traces the evolution of their ideas, from inspiration to outcome.

His interviewees include Sims creator Will Wright and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Moggridge and his interviewees discuss questions such as what made Palm’s handheld organisers so successful, what turns a game into a hobby, and why 30 million people in Japan choose the i-mode service for their mobile phones.

Moggridge also tells the story of his own design process and explains the focus on people and prototypes that has been successful at his design company, IDEO. The book is accompanied by DVD containing segments from all 43 interviews, inter-cut with examples of the interactions under discussion.

TYPE & TYPOGRAPHY (2ND EDITION)

Authors: Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam
Publisher: Laurence King
Date of publication: 2005
Pages: 224
Price: £22.50


Carefully structured and brimming with clear examples, Type & Typography takes the reader through every aspect of typography, from the history of language and writing systems to the invention of movable type and the evolution of the digital systems of today.

It provides an overview of the bewildering variety of typefaces available and is a practical guide to using type as a meaningful element of design in all media. In addition, you’ll discover a valuable ‘road map’ for navigating the bewildering variety of typefaces, as well as scores of techniques for using type as a meaningful element of design and layout in all media.

Phil Baines has worked as a freelance designer for 20 years and is noted for his letterpress work. Andrew Haslam has run his own studio since 1987, creating textbooks for children.

WHAT IS GRAPHIC DESIGN?

Author: Quentin Newark
Publisher: RotoVision
Date of publication: 2002
Pages: 256
Price: £19.99


Now available for the first time in paperback, the bestselling What is Graphic Design? explores all the issues that shape design today: economics, ethics, technology, theory, and developments in other arts. It looks at how graphic design has evolved over the centuries, from the development of book printing in medieval Germany to the present day, including magazines, corporate branding, television titles, films, and Web sites.

The book breaks down design into its elements: typography, how text and images combine, and how the process of reproduction underpins every aspect of design.

DIGITAL MULTIMEDIA (2ND EDITION)

Authors: Nigel and Jenny Chapman
Publisher: Wiley
Year of publication: 2004
Pages: 698
Price: £29.99


This is a core text for undergraduate and masters courses in multimedia. It combines a broad account of technology with an inside understanding of multimedia content and its practical applications.

Coverage begins with the nature of multimedia, including the cultural and social context, before examining hardware and software requirements for its creation and delivery.

There are chapters devoted to each media type, detailing how it is represented in digital form and what demands are placed on computer systems. Later chapters cover design principles and accessibility, XML, SMIL and SVG, creating interaction through scripting and networking media.

There are end-of-chapter exercises, as well as suggestions for substantial projects and a detailed glossary of terms.


HOW TO BE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL

Author: Adrian Shaughnessy
Publisher: Laurence King
Date of publication: 2005
Pages: 160
Price: £17.95

This is a book for independent-minded designers. It addresses the concerns of young designers who want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work, and who want to avoid becoming a hired drone working on soulless projects.

It assumes that its reader knows the basics of graphic design and has already chosen to forge a career as a designer, or is already working as a professional designer but looking for guidance, inspiration and practical advice.

This book offers just this, through a series of one-on-one interviews with American and international designers, who tell of their personal experiences.


THE ANIMATOR’S SURVIVAL KIT: A MANUAL OF METHODS, PRINCIPLES, AND FORMULAS FOR CLASSICAL, COMPUTER, GAMES, STOP MOTION, AND INTERNET ANIMATORS

Author: Richard Williams
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year of publication: 2001
Pages: 352
Price: £14.95

This is the one book every animator should have on their desk – whether they work in film, computer graphics or video-game animation. Richard Williams is the pre-eminent figure in motion-picture animation. In recent years, the Academy Award for animation effects has been virtually guaranteed to go to a student of Richard Williams, whether the movie in question is Toy Story or Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

This book is based on masterclasses that Williams has given to professional and would-be animators over the years. Companies such as Industrial Light and Magic, Disney, and Dreamworks send their animators to study at Williams’ feet, as he’s regarded as the link between the ‘golden Age’ of Disney and the new-style computer animation exemplified by Toy Story.


THE ART OF 3D: COMPUTER ANIMATION AND EFFECTS (3RD EDITION)

Author: Isaac Victor Kerlow
Publisher: Wiley
Date of publication: 2003
Pages: 464
Price: £42.50

Isaac Victor Kerlow is director of digital production at Disney, and in this new edition of his seminal platform-independent 3D manual he offers step-bystep guidelines to the entire process of creating a fully rendered 3D computer animation or still image.

It covers the latest techniques and technology, including 2D/3D integration, non-photorealistic rendering, model rigging, and real-time polygonal models. Full-colour examples include visual effects, animated movies, TV shows and computer games from companies such as DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Sony.


CRACKING ANIMATION: THE AARDMAN BOOK OF 3-D ANIMATION (NEW EDITION)

Authors: Peter Lord and Brian Sibley
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Date of publication: 2004
Pages: 224
Price: £19.95

Cracking Animation tells the compelling story of the Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Studio, and provides a unique guide to making 3D animation. Originally published in 1998, it offers practical, fully illustrated step-by-step descriptions of how to create effective characters, a storyboard, sets and even how to make an entire film.

This new edition adds an 32 pages, incorporating the making of Chicken Run, and an exploration of computer graphics, which was nascent on the book’s first publication. Peter Lord is the founder of Aardman, while Brian Sibley is also author of The Disney Studio Story.


DON’T MAKE ME THINK: A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO WEB USABILITY (2ND EDITION)

Author: Steve Krug
Publisher: New Riders
Date of publication: 2005
Pages: 216
Price: £24.99

Usability design is one of the most important though least attractive tasks for a Web developer. In Don’t Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humour and excellent to-the-point examples.

The title of the book is its chief personal design premise. All of the tips, techniques and examples presented within it revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain.

Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the “before and after” examples are helpful. Topics such as the wise use of rollovers and usability testing are covered, using a consistently practical approach.


THE DV REBEL’S GUIDE: AN ALL DIGITAL APPROACH TO MAKING KILLER ACTION MOVIES ON THE CHEAP

Author: Stu Maschwitz
Publisher: Peachpit
Date of publication: 2007
Pages: 320
Price: £31.99

This offers a DIY approach to great movie-making. Stu Maschwitz is co-founder of the Orphanage, responsible for award-winning effects in such movies as Sin City and the Harry Potter flicks.

It’s a must for filmmakers and students who want impressive visual effects but don’t have Hollywood-style budgets. This guide details exactly how to do this, from planning and selecting the necessary cameras, software, and equipment, to creating special effects such as gunfire, Kung Fu fights and dismemberment, to editing and mixing sound and music.

Readers learn how to integrate visual effects into every aspect of filmmaking – before filming, during filming and with in-camera shots, and with computers in postproduction.