Animation 101: The Twelve Principles of Animation (part one)

When you animate there are ten principles that can be referred to. These principles were invented at Walt Disney Studios by the animators there. I will be talking about half of them now and then I will talk about the other half next week.

  1. Squash and Stretch – This is the probably the most important principle of animation. This principle gives the illusion that an object has weight and mass. For example, when you hit a tennis ball with a racket, the ball doesn’t stay round when you hit it. Instead it squishes into an oval shape. This is caused by the fact that you have just interacted with the tennis ball, and its weight has pushed down on itself. This principle can also apply to character animation if you use it correctly.
  2. Anticipation – This principle is the movement leading up to a movement. For example, when you jump high up in to air, you don’t just quickly jump and you rocket high above the clouds. Instead you squat down to prepare for the jump and then you rocket up using the momentum of your earlier position.
  3. Staging – This principle is how the camera is positioned in front of a character. If you are trying to have a shot made to show a character’s emotions, position the camera so that the audience can see your character’s emotion. Make the idea of your shot painstakingly obvious, and not hard to follow or understand.
  4. Straight Ahead Action vs. Pose to Pose – These are two different methods of animation. Straight Ahead is animation frame by frame, all the way until you’re done. Pose to Pose is drawing the key frames, then filling in the gap later. Each ways have their charms, but both also have their problems. Straight Ahead is good for complex movements, but can easily get out of hand. Pose to Pose is great for slower and more simple scenes, but it’s hard to create such exact, well-timed poses. Most people use a mix of both, by doing a Pose to Pose method, then go back over the animation using the Straight Ahead animation method.
  5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action – This is when objects connected to another object sort of drag behind. For example when you are swinging your arms along with your body. Your arms swing in a short delay with your body. This is a basic example of overlapping action.
  6. Slow in and Slow out – Also known as ease in and ease out, this principle suggests a sort of fade in and out of a movement, meaning that the beginning and end of a movement can sometimes be a bit slower than the middle. Movements in real life don’t go at the same speed. Sometimes movements are slower or faster than others.

That is all for now. I will be talking about the other half next week. Until then, see you later, animators!


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