The 12 Principals of Animation

I have researched and identified principles of animation in short film animation.

Squash and stretch: Squash and stretch is adding exaggeration to an object in motion which gives it a greater sense of weight and volume. Like in the animated short film ‘Nova’, squash and stretch is used by the main character to show fear and determination.

Squash & Stretch

Slow in and Slow out: In the physical world, objects and humans need to pick up momentum before they can reach full speed. Similarly, it takes time to decrease speed before something can come to a complete stop. For example in the short film ‘Nova’ the main character is running to the crash of a meteorite and then upon reaching it, slows down.

Slow in and slow out example

Arc: Most natural action tends to follow an arched trajectory, this can be applied to a limb or other body parts which can apply force.

arc example gif

Anticipation: Anticipation is used to prepare the audience for an action, and to make the action appear more realistic. This is shown in the below clip with the subjects reluctance to touch the orb.

Anticipation example


Staging: The purpose is to direct the audience’s attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene.

Staging example gif.gif

Straight Ahead Action/ Pose to Pose: These are two different approaches to the actual drawing process. “Straight ahead action” scenes are animated frame by frame from beginning to end, while “pose to pose” involves starting with drawing a few key frames, and then filling in the intervals later.


Follow Through and Overlapping Action: Follow through and overlapping action is a general heading for two closely related techniques which help to render movement more realistically, and help to give the impression that characters follow the laws of physics, including the principle of inertia.

Follow through example

Secondary action: Adding secondary actions to the main action gives a scene more life, and can help to support the main action. A person walking can simultaneously swing their arms or keep them in their pockets, speak or whistle, or express emotions through facial expressions.

secondary-action example

Timing: Timing refers to the number of drawings or frames for a given action, which translates to the speed of the action on film.

Timing example.png

Exaggeration: Exaggeration is an effect especially useful for animation, as animated motions that strive for a perfect imitation of reality can look static and dull

Exaggeration example

Solid drawing: The principle of solid drawing means taking into account forms in three-dimensional space, or giving them volume and weight.

Solid drawing example

Appeal: Appeal in a cartoon character corresponds to what would be called charisma in an actor. A character who is appealing is not necessarily sympathetic – villains or monsters can also be appealing – the important thing is that the viewer feels the character is real and somewhat interesting.appeal example.jpg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close