Im one of those people who loves to collect books and videos on animation. I began back in 1980 after I first started working at Nelvana in Toronto. After my fourth pay cheque, I had enough to buy a video tape machine (it was a Beta). I video taped as many cartoons that I could, mostly Warner Bros., MGM, and Fleischer. I have 234 tapes with around 6 hours of cartoons each. Recently, since DVD collections have become more available, Ive been voraciously adding to my collection. I have 5 bookcases full of animation and art related books plus all the model sheets that Ive been collecting.
Im constantly referring to this treasury of information. I love to sit and animate or design characters with a video or DVD of old cartoons playing in the background.
Sometimes Ill go through a cartoon single frame and analyze the action and timing. Ive even copied a scene to my computer and then exported the individual frames then printed them out so I could go through and flip the drawings.
A great exercise Ive done a few times is to print out a scene and then go through and find the keys then trace them off onto animation paper. This forces me to go through the same actions that the original artist went through. I try to ask myself the same questions they would have asked. Its an amazing process to go through and it teaches you so much.
You will never stop learning, so get used to doing the research.