13th Dec 2021

12 Animation Principles

Game Design

Written By, Sneha Zalavadiya

12 Animation Principles :

The 12 principles of animation were introduced by Disney’s animators, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in their book “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation”.Published in 1981, it is widely considered to be the best animation book of all time.

1. Squash & Stretch

Gives the illusion of weight and volume to a subject, and is often used for comical effect. Squash & stretch depends on scene requirements and animation stylistics. More often squash and stretch is extremely strong in animation films and feeble in feature films when realistic characters are used.


2. Anticipation

Prepares the audience for action, and increases realism of action. Sometimes used to heighten the suspense of a scene.For instance, starting to run,jump or make a dash.To jump, first you need to squat-this is preparation or anticipation.

3. Arcs

Humans and animals always move in arcs. Arcs increase the realism of the subject’s action.Motion of all living beings and many other objects do not happen in straight lines,but in arcs.

4. Ease In & Ease Out

The subject needs time to slow down and speed up.Drawings between two extreme poses provide the subject with gender realistic movement.The same applies to almost everything to throw a ball, start to run or jump ,start driving a car ,fly on a plane.

5. Appeal

Animated characters need to captivate audiences. Complicated character faces and lack of symmetry often make it difficult for audiences to connect.

6. Timing

More frames create slower action, whilst fewer frames create faster action. Timing is in charge not only for speed,but also for size,weight and even character`s temper.

7. Solid Drawing

Adds weight, volume and 3D illusion to the subject.Stick to clear shapes,watch the center of gravity weight should be evenly distributed.

8. Exaggeration

Presents the physical features or elements of a character in an exaggerated form.By means of exaggeration we can achieve great expressions ,precision , more dynamic poses and motions.

9. Pose to Pose

Works for highly emotional and dramatised scenes. Involves drawing a few key frames for each action, followed by filling in the intervals.This method helps to achieve more spontantiely in animation,but makes it difficult to control its duration.It is more often used in hand drawn animation creating quick scenes.

10. Staging

Communicates the primary mood, action or idea of a scene. Animators Johnston and Thomas defined it as “The presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear.”Foreground,character and background shall complement each and work as a whole in the course of storytelling.

11. Secondary Action

Emphasises and supports the primary action of the subject, whilst providing scenes with greater life.for example, preparing a meal and at the same time watching TV.

12. Follow Through

Refers to parts of the subject that continue to move after a completed action. For example, the movement of a hand after an object has been thrown. Technically follow through motion is happening when one or several body parts have stopped, and the rest of the body is still in motion.

Written By,

Game Designer at Yudiz Solutions Pvt. Ltd