12 Principles of Animation


The 12 principles of animation were created by Walt Disney animators, two of whom were Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, these principles were developed as a result of their practice. They are used to simulate a more ‘real’ experience for the viewers, adding substance to the 2-dimentional.

1. Squash & Stretch

Squash and Stretch promotes the illusion of weight and proportions of a character or object.

2. Anticipation

Anticipation is used before a character performs a major or final action, it readies the viewers for things such as a jump, the anticipation for this would be squatting down before springing to a jump.

3. Staging

Staging allows the audience to follow the story line with use of actions, poses, camera angles and backgrounds, which should not obscure or compete with the animation.

4. Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose Animation

Straight ahead animation starts with the first drawing and continues until the end, using this method can be tricky to keep size and proportions the same.
Pose to pose animation starts with beginning and end sequences and key frames in between, size and proportions of animations can be kept controlled using this method.

5. Follow Through & Overlapping Action

Follow through action is when parts of the character, such as arms, hair or clothing catch up to the character as it stops, the whole animation doesn’t stop at once.
Overlapping action is when the character starts to move, or moves in another direction and parts of the character will not catch up or start to move until a few frames later/ Timing is crucial when trying to depict these.

6. Slow-Out & Slow-In

As a drawing starts to move in and out of a sequence, it would have more drawings, making it slower. In the middle it would have less drawings, making it faster. This technique can be used to make the characters movement soften or in comical effect.

7. Arcs

Actions that are made follow arcs, thesis arcs help creates a more natural animation.

8. Secondary Action

Secondary actions are used in support of a main action, i.e something else moves whilst or after the main action is taking place, but to add to the main action not to distract from it.

9. Timing

Timing is essential in animation when portraying movement or emotion of a character, this can link in with slow-ins & outs in relation to the speed of certain frames within an animation, a mix of these two adds textures to an animation.

10. Exaggeration

Exaggeration can be used for comical effect in animation, such as caricature, but it can also help characters become more natural in their movements. Exaggeration is used to express poses, attitudes and actions, but too much exaggeration could make the animations too theatrical.

11. Solid Drawing

Solid drawing is the use of basic drawing of form, weight, volume solidity and the illusion of 3D space. These can be applied to characters and surroundings alike to create the illusion of 3D (movement in space) and 4D (movement in time).

12. Appeal

Appeal, whether the character be cute, comical, heroic or villainous, needs to have appeal to the audience. To achieve appeal the drawings and character development have to maintain clear and continuous.


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