The Overview Of 12 Basic Principles Of Animation

The Overview Of 12 Basic Principles Of Animation 

The 12 animation principles are a valuable resource for all animators. Leading Disney employees distilled their approach to creating the fundamentals of animation.

Here, we look at the history of these fundamental animation principles and go over each step in greater detail.

These digital animation principles of animation are based on the work of Disney animators since the 1930s when they strived to create realistic animations of cartoon characters. The principles of animations were used to create the illusion that Disney’s characters obeyed basic physical laws. Abstract issues, such as emotional timing, were also addressed.

Although principles of animation have evolved in the decades since The Illusion of Life was first published, the fundamentals have not changed, and the 12 principles of animation continue to apply in a variety of fields, from films to web design.

Following each step will allow you to create digital animation that will make the viewer believe your creations are living, breathing creatures – such as those created by Disney animators over the years, which include some of the most well-known animated characters of all time.

1. Squash and Stretch

Objects’ flexibility is provided by squashing and stretching. A bouncing ball is the best way to understand how squash and stretch work. The ball will stretch out just before impact as it begins to fall and gain speed.

The ball squashes as it hits the ground before stretching again as it takes off. Please keep in mind that an object’s volume does not change. When a ball is squashed or stretched, the width and depth must be the same. There are many examples of “squash and stretch” in everyday life that you may not notice. When someone speaks, for example, the face squashes and stretches because the face is very flexible. This can be exaggerated in the principles of animation. 

Squash and stretch can be used to add a comical effect or more appeal to many different areas of animation, such as the eyes during a blink or when someone is surprised or scared.

2. Anticipation

Anticipation is used in animation to prepare the audience for an upcoming action, and it is required to sell believable movements.

To put it another way, before a baseball player pitches the ball, they must first move their entire body and arm backwards in order to gain enough energy to throw the ball forward. So, in order to move forward, an animated person must first move back. Similarly, if a character reaches for a glass on a table, their hand must first be moved back. This not only increases their momentum but also informs the audience that this person is about to move.

The Overview Of 12 Basic Principles Of Animation | Credit:


Another example of anticipation is when a character looks off-screen when someone is approaching or when a character’s attention is drawn to something they are about to do.

3. Staging

Poses and actions, camera placement, background and stage elements must all clearly demonstrate a character’s temper, reaction, attitude towards a story, and plotline continuity. Close-ups, medium shots, and master shots, as well as camera angles, are used effectively to tell the story. Because film duration is limited, each succession, scene, and film frame must be relevant to the overall story. Use one clear action at a time to convey the idea rather than confusing the viewer with too many simultaneous actions. Exceptions are when you really need to show the upheaval or confusion. Staginess draws the audience’s attention to the story being told.

The background should not distract the viewer from the story or a character, nor should it draw his attention with too many details. In the course of storytelling, the foreground, character, and background should all complement one another.

4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

These are two techniques for animating drawings. When drawing a straight-ahead action, you sketch each frame of the action one at a time as you go. Pose-to-pose involves drawing the extremes, or the beginning and end of an action, before moving on to the middle frame and starting to fill in the gaps between the frames.

Pose-to-pose gives you more control over the action. Instead of relying on luck that you will get the timing correct, you can see early on where your character will be at the beginning and end of the story. It is possible to detect any significant mistakes early by performing the main poses first. Its drawback is that occasionally it seems overly orderly and flawless.

Straight-ahead action is less preplanned and consequently more novel and unexpected. Its disadvantage is that it resembles sprinting while wearing blinders. You are unable to determine where you are meant to be at any given moment.

The best strategy for becoming a great animator is to become proficient in both methods and combine them because you can then achieve both spontaneity and structure.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Follow through is the concept that separate parts of the body will continue to move after the character has stopped. When a character comes to a complete stop from walking, his or her arms may continue forward before settling into a down position. This could be the case with clothing as well.

Overlapping action (also known as “dragging” or “leading and following”) is similar in that different parts of the body move at different times. When a character raises their arm to wave, the shoulder moves first, followed by the arm, and then the elbow, before the hand lags a few frames.

This is also visible when a blade of grass waves in the wind. The base moves first, followed by the rest of the grass at different rates, creating the waving motion.

Furthermore, characters that remain motionless must exhibit some form of movement (blinking eyes, breathing, etc.) to keep the animation from becoming “dead.” This is known as “moving hold.”

6. Slow-in and Slow-out

There must be a time for acceleration and deceleration when any object moves or stops. Movements become very unnatural and robotic without ease in and ease out (or slow in and slow out).

When a car accelerates away from a stop, it does not reach full speed in an instant. It must first accelerate. It does not go from sixty to zero in the blink of an eye as it comes to a stop. Instead, it slows until it comes to a complete stop.

The same must be accomplished in digital animation, and the simplest way to accomplish this is to use the spacing principle.

When a character rises from a seated position, the spacing of each pose will be closer together at first to allow them to ease into the movement. As they stand up, At the end of the action, they will ease out of the movement by spacing the poses further apart.. Everything would be very abrupt and jerky if there was no acceleration and deceleration of actions.

7. Arcs

All living beings (people, animals, birds, fish, etc.) and many other objects move in arcs rather than straight lines. Consider a pendulum, whose movement reflects an exact arc. The same is true for the hands, legs, head, and body as a whole. Walking is a great example. Take note of how you move your feet. You begin by raising and moving your foot, then lower and come to a complete stop. Your foot moved in an arc. Your pelvis also moved in arcs. You could try moving your feet in a straight line, dragging them without lifting them off the ground. Your pelvis will most likely continue to move in arcs.

When you throw a ball, your arm moves in an arc, and a flying ball will also move in an arc. Arc motion will appear more natural and appealing in animation.

8. Secondary Actions

Secondary actions are intended to supplement and intensify the main action, or to distract or direct the spectator’s attention to other actions, thus enriching and solidifying the principles of animation. Consider a student reaching for a test paper during an examination; he is uncertainly viewing them, shifting from foot to foot in doubt, his eyes wondering – this is the main action. Consider the same scene with a schoolboy fidgeting with a pen as a secondary action. This deepens and enhances the overall scene. Other examples include:

Pushing a car (main action) while also removing a fly from the nose (secondary action), preparing a meal while also watching TV, you’re talking to each other while scratching your head.

Secondary actions can evolve into primary actions. In the case of a schoolboy, we can divert the viewer’s attention away from the main action. For example, if the schoolboy accidentally bends and breaks the pen, our secondary action becomes the main action because the spectator shifts his attention from test papers to a broken pen. As a result, secondary action becomes primary action.

9. Timing

This is the amount of time or frames used to demonstrate an action or motion. If you use fewer frames, your motion will be sharp and quick; if you use more frames, your motion will be smooth and slow. For example, suppose you are working on an animation of a ball being struck.

Give this animation four frames and you will get a sharp and very quick strike:

The first frame shows a foot being lifted.

The foot strikes a ball in the fifth frame.

The second, third, and fourth frames are in-between frames in which the foot moves from a swing to striking a ball.

Consider the following animation, but with different timing:

The foot is lifted in the first frame, and it strikes a ball in the 50th frame.

From the second to the 49th frames, the foot travels from the swing to striking a ball.

The first version will take 1/5 (one-fifth) of a second at a speed of 25 frames per second, while the second version will take 2 seconds. The action in the second version will be much slower and smoother as a result.

Timing governs not only speed, but also size, weight, and even a character’s temper. Consider a small ant that can run about 2 inches and take about 50 steps in 2 seconds.

Consider how many steps an elephant can take in 2 seconds. Or how long does it take an ant and an elephant to turn around? The time will not be the same again – this is timing.

Variations in quick and slow timing can provide a unique rhythm and appeal to action.

10. Exaggeration

Animation is limitless and allows us to show things in ways that differ from reality. Exaggeration allows us to achieve greater expression, precision, and more dynamic poses and motions. Not only can a character’s primary lines be exaggerated, but so can his personal traits, behaviour, condition, motions, and so on. Consider two boxing punches. The first is a realistic example in which the character turns slightly during the swing, causing his body to “charge.” “In animation, this motion will not be dynamic or appealing.” Another example is exaggerated animation, such as when our character turns his body to 3/4 of a circle during a swing – a powerful charge, dynamic, and appealing pose.

11. Solid drawing

Your character’s poses should be clear and expressive, and the silhouette should be easy to read. Stick to simple shapes, keep an eye on the center of gravity, and make sure the weight is evenly distributed. Poses must clearly express a character’s thoughts, intentions, conditions, wishes, and feelings.

12. Appeal

We are not dealing with cover girls or a fluffy kitten with a pink ribbon here. All characters, whether heroes, villains, mammoths, dinosaurs, or objects, can and must be appealing to varying degrees. This refers to their nature, history, and behaviour. Even villains will be charismatic and may be liked by the audience. Spectators are more likely to accept and understand appealing characters because they feel empathy for them. Even a small mouse, such as Mickey Mouse, can be so appealing that it becomes a legend. When you like something, it has an appeal.


These laws and principles must be read and put into practice for a better understanding. All the laws and principles mentioned above will be thoroughly studied and applied in our courses. Whatever software package you use, the knowledge gained in these courses will be useful and applicable.


Q. What is the importance of animation in social media?

It captures the user’s attention and keeps them watching and reading the message of your brand. GIFs and videos, as is well known, perform best on all social platforms because they hold attention and require more time to experience a complete interaction with a post.

Q. What effect does animation have on the audience?

It allows you to convey ideas quickly and precisely. Animation is a low-cost communication method. It educates and engages the audience through entertainment. It also provides real-life scenarios encountered in daily life while learning, among many other activities.

Q. What is the primary goal of animation?

The most common use of animation is for entertainment. Animation is used on television, mobile devices, and the internet. Animation is mostly used to entertain children on television because it gives them something to laugh about and keeps them entertained for long periods of time.

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