12 Principles of Animation

12 Principles of Animation Every Animator Should Know – A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents

Despite numerous tech facilities and digital innovations, several animation artists struggle to create appealing animations – as they overlook sticking to the basics. You start by following the laws of physics, but what about more ethereal concerns like character appeal and emotional timing?

Thus, it is crucial for animation students and experts to know about the 12 animation principles. It is a group of central teachings for professional animators to help them ace the projects and become known through their work.

In this article, we have discussed 12 principles of animation to help you learn about it in depth. So, keep reading to enhance your knowledge.

A Bit History First

To create more realistic animation, two talented Disney animators, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, proposed 12 fundamental principles in 1981. Since then, practically every professional animator has followed these ideas, some dubbed the “Bible of animation.”

The concepts were initially created to relate to traditional, hand-drawn animation. However, they are still very applicable to modern-tech animation today and can be seen in both character animation and user experience design. The Illusion of Life is a Disney Animation book, one of the “greatest animation books of all time,” about 12 fundamental principles of animation.

The 12 Principles of Animation (With Examples)

Let’s delve deep to learn about the 12 basic principles of animation.

  1. Squash and stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight-ahead action and pose-to-pose
  5. Follow through and overlapping action
  6. Slow in and slow out
  7. Arc
  8. Secondary action
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid Drawing and Solid Posing
  12. Appeal

Once you understand these principles, you can take your work to the next level.

1. Squash and Stretch

The “squash and stretch” method, said to be the most crucial one, gives drawn things a sensation of weight and volume. The best way to explain it is with the analogy of a bouncing ball that appears extended when falling and squished when it strikes the ground. Exaggerating animated objects’ length and width, even just a little, will give them a more lifelike appearance.

2. Anticipation

The anticipation buildup helps the audience prepare for what’s about to happen. When used, it results in a more lifelike action for the object.

Imagine how it would appear if you were to toss a ball without first bringing your arm back or jump into the air without bending your knees. Since you might not even be able to jump without bending your knees, it would look incredibly awkward. Similarly, animating motions without a hint of expectation will make them appear clumsy, dull, and lifeless.

3. Staging

Staging in animation is quite similar to artistic composition. This means that you should employ motion to direct the viewer’s attention and highlight the crucial elements of the scene. Keep the scene’s main elements front and center, and minimize the movement of any unimportant elements of animation.

4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

This idea aligns with two different methods for doing the actual sketching. One can either start with a few crucial frames and then fill in the gaps (from “position to pose”), or one can sketch out a scene frame by frame from start to end (“straightforward action”). The two methods are frequently combined to provide a dynamic and dramatic appearance of movement.

Most computer animation systems support the idea by automatically adding the missing sequences in keyframe transitions, whether in 2D video or 3D animation.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Different portions of an object stop at various points and rates when it comes to a stop after being in motion. Similar to how not all parts of an object move at the same speed. The fifth of Disney’s animation principles has this as its core.

There is overlap action here. If your character moves quickly through the scenario, their head may move faster than their arms and legs. Likewise, their hair will probably continue to move after they stop running for a few frames before coming to rest—this is called follow-through. If you want your animation to flow persuasively, you must comprehend these fundamental animation rules and ideas.

6. Slow-In and Slow-Out

Your car doesn’t immediately reach 60 mph after starting. It takes some time to speed up the animation and maintain it. This is what is known as an Ease Out in the animation industry.

Similar to when you brake, you won’t come to a complete stop right away. (Saving a collision with a tree or anything.) You press down on the pedal and gradually slow down until you come to a stop. This is known as an Ease In in animation. An animation can be more realistic and personable by carefully regulating how objects change speed.

7. Arcs   

The best course of action when creating arcs animation is to adhere to the principles of physics. Your animations should reflect the arc most moving things take when they move. For instance, when you throw a ball into the air, the force of the Earth’s gravity causes it to go in a natural arc.

8. Secondary Action

Secondary actions reinforce or support the primary activity occurring in a scenario. Including secondary actions gives your characters and objects greater depth.

For instance, a character’s hair moving subtly as they walk, a facial emotion, or a second object responding to the first. Whatever the situation, this supporting activity shouldn’t take attention away from the main one.

9. Timing

Correct timing is essential for conveying a character’s mood, expression, and response. This is expressed in terms of the number of drawings or frames for a specific action. Simply utilize fewer frames for rapid motion and more for slower action.

10. Exaggeration

Too much realism can ruin an animation by seeming static and monotonous. Instead, give your characters and things a little exaggeration to give them more life. You might notice that most animations, especially explainer videos, are informative and engaging, as this is important to enhance the credibility of the content and information. Your animations will stand out if you can find ways to slightly exceed the realm of what is practical.

11. Solid Drawing and Solid Posing

You must comprehend the fundamentals of drawing. Understanding shape and anatomy, weight and volume, lights and shadows, and drawing in three dimensions are all part of this.

Although you have some leeway here, it’s crucial to maintain consistency. If your environment has crooked doors and an off-kilter perspective, preserve it for the duration of the animation. Otherwise, everything will crumble.

12. Appeal

The audience must be interested in your characters, items, and the setting in which they exist. This entails having a design that is simple to read, strong drawings, and personality. There is no set recipe for doing this well, but it begins with developing compelling characters and mastering the craft of animation.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the 12 principles of animation! Now that you know the core steps in producing a solid animation, go to work!

Furthermore, if you are looking for a company to produce incredible videos using live-action, whiteboard animation, 3D animation, and mixes of these animations, connect with Anideos now. We offer animations for various industries, including healthcare, entertainment, and more. So, approach us today to get top-tier animation videos.

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Adam is a copywriter and content strategist with years of experience covering the latest trends in technology and digital industry. Adam brings a fresh and creative approach to his writing. With his passion for writing as well as amazing research skills, he shares valuable knowledge on multiple trends.