One of my favorite animators has always been the German born woman, Lotte Reiniger (1899 - 1981).
As a child she was fascinated with the Chinese art of silhouette puppetry and later fell in love with cinema and the films of director Paul Wegener, known today for The Golem (1920). Eventually she ended up making elaborate title cards for his films, many of which featured silhouettes.
At 19 she was admitted into an experimental animation studio and soon met her future creative partner and husband, Carl Koch. Together, they created dozens of films; she as director and animator, he as producer and photographer.
Lotte was an incredibly innovative woman for her time, even devising the first multi-plane camera for certain effects (proceeding Disney and Ub Iwerks by a decade). She has received great critical and popular acclaim in her home country and throughout the world.
Personally, I love the stark beauty and mysterious expression of her characters, and the intricate delicacy of her cut-outs. Some of her works include: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926, seen above), which is the oldest surviving full-length animated feature film ever made; Jack and the Beanstalk (1955); Hansel and Gretel (1955), and many other delightful and whimsically crafted tales. Here are two samples from Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Enjoy!