12 Principles of Animation: A Beginner's Guide

12 Principles of Animation

Animation is an art form that combines creativity and technical skill to bring characters and stories to life. To create engaging and believable animations, animators rely on a set of foundational principles known as the 12 principles of animation. Developed by Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in their book "The Illusion of Life" these principles serve as the backbone of effective animation. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore each of these principles and how they contribute to compelling animations.

So, this is the 12 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

12: Appeal

1. Squash and Stretch

Squash and stretch give objects and characters a sense of weight and flexibility. This principle involves exaggerating the deformation of an object to convey its physical properties. For example, a bouncing ball will squash when it hits the ground and stretch as it bounces back up, adding a sense of elasticity and realism.

2. Anticipation

Anticipation prepares the audience for an action, making it more believable and engaging. It involves a preliminary action that sets up the main action, such as a character winding up before throwing a punch. This principle helps to build suspense and ensures that movements are smooth and natural.

3. Staging

Staging is the clear presentation of an idea or action. It involves positioning characters and objects in a way that directs the audience's attention to the most important elements of a scene. Good staging ensures that the viewer understands what is happening and why it is significant.

4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

These are two approaches to animating movement. Straight-ahead action involves drawing each frame in sequence from start to finish, resulting in fluid and dynamic movements. Pose to pose involves creating key poses first and then filling in the in-between frames, allowing for more control over timing and composition. Many animators use a combination of both techniques.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Follow-through and overlapping action add realism by acknowledging that different parts of a character or object move at different rates. Follow-through refers to the actions that continue after the main action like a character's hair still moving after they stop running. Overlapping action involves the staggered movement of different body parts, such as an arm swinging slightly after the body has moved.

6. Slow In and Slow Out

Slow in and slow out describe the acceleration and deceleration of movement. This principle involves having more frames at the beginning and end of an action and fewer in the middle. It creates a more natural motion, as objects and characters typically take time to start and stop moving.

7. Arcs

Most natural movements follow an arc or curved path. Arcs add fluidity and realism to animation, making actions appear more organic. Whether it's the swing of a limb or the trajectory of a thrown object, incorporating arcs into your animation ensures smoother and more lifelike motions.

8. Secondary Action

Secondary action enhances the main action by adding additional movements that support the primary motion. For example, while a character is walking, their arms might swing, or their facial expressions might change. These secondary actions add depth and complexity to the animation, making it more engaging.

9. Timing

Timing refers to the number of frames used for a particular action, which affects the speed and rhythm of the animation. Good timing is crucial for conveying weight, mood, and personality. Adjusting the timing can make actions appear quicker and snappier or slower and more deliberate, depending on the desired effect.

10. Exaggeration

Exaggeration involves amplifying certain aspects of an action or character to make it more dynamic and entertaining. While realism is important, exaggeration adds energy and emphasis, making the animation more captivating. This principle is beneficial for creating humorous or dramatic effects.

11. Solid Drawing

Solid drawing emphasizes the importance of understanding the fundamentals of drawing, such as anatomy, weight, and volume. Even in digital animation, a strong foundation in traditional drawing skills ensures that characters and objects are believable and consistent. Good drawing skills contribute to more convincing and appealing animations.

12. Appeal

Appeal refers to the charisma and charm of characters and designs. An appealing character is not necessarily cute or attractive but possesses a certain quality that makes them interesting and engaging. This principle involves creating clear, expressive, and aesthetically pleasing designs that resonate with the audience.


The 12 principles of animation provide a valuable framework for creating effective and engaging animations. By understanding and applying these principles, beginners can enhance their skills and produce more dynamic and believable animations. Whether you're animating a simple bouncing ball or a complex character sequence, these principles are essential tools for bringing your creations to life.

More Articles:

                        Which is Easier: 3D or 2D Animation?

                        Master the Art of 3D Modeling: Best Tips and Tricks in 2024

                        What is Color Theory? Impact of Color Theory

                        Best Free Software for 2D Animation in 2024

No comments:

Post a Comment