In their book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas introduced the 12 principles of animation. Throughout the book, they’ve mentioned incidents explaining the work of Disney animators and summarised it into 12 basic principles that we know and apply today.

Through this blog, we’ll go through all the 12 principles and understand their functionality and application that will help you create a video that is easy to market. Each time that we create an animation, we apply these principles. After a thorough reading, you’ll understand how to use each principle efficiently and create a flawless animation that facilitates swift video marketing.

1. Stretch And Squash

It is a most important principle because, when applied, it gives to the objects the illusion of property (gravity, weight, mass, and elasticity).

Example: Bouncing ball, the ball appears stretched when it’s falling and gets squashed when it hits the ground. by animating the ball squashing and stretching an animator gives a more realistic feel.

The above figure uses Squash and Stretch to change an object’s shape into a rounded corner rectangle. If we use Squash and Stretch in an object it’ll add weight and volume within the flat tone graphics through the motion design.

2. Anticipation (Action Before An Action)

Anticipation Action Before An Action

To make the action more realistic, the audience must be prepared for what’s close to happening. For instance, the same way an animated movement without its anticipation appears to be off and lifeless.

For example, if a person is reaching for a glass kept on a table, it’ll move its hand back before moving it within the forward direction.

Character is moving little back to realize energy before he runs within the other way, here the audience will realize what’s close to happening.

3. Staging


The main purpose of staging is to understand the audience exactly where the action will happen in order that they do not miss anything.

Here an animator is liable for drawing the viewer’s attention to the crucial parts of the scene.

It is to get more audience involvement of thought for establishing an honest mood, creating focus, and clarifying what’s happening within the picture.

Example: motion is an eye fixed, which is drawn in motion in an otherwise still scene. During a scene, once we see everything is traveling, the attention is drawn as a still object.

4. Straight Ahead & Pose To Pose

Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose

There are two ways to manage an animation, both have their benefits, so both are different from each other.

Straight Ahead is to draw a frame at a time from start to end, and is that the most suitable option if you’re trying to find a smooth movement.

Pose to Pose is adding frames between keyframes a few frames in between. Only then will you return and complete the rest: during this way, you get more control on the scene, and you increase the dramatic effect.

Example: Making a walk-cycle animation frame to the next frame continuously is called straight ahead.

Making a walk-cycle animation beginning with poses then use another pose to offer smoothness into it.

Pose to Pose mostly use for proportional animation that’s very appealing and convincing to the attention.

In a normal walk-cycle, the key poses are called straight ahead & in-between frames which increase the dramatic effect.

5. Follow Through Overlapping

Follow through overlapping

When an object moves, not all of its parts move at a similar speed, and when the movement stops, not everything stops at a similar time.

Follow through and Overlapping action are often considered two different principles, but they’re closely associated with one another. Follow-through is that the concept separates some parts of the body and can continue moving even after the character has come to a stop also.

Example 1: if a personality involves a stop after a walk, every part of the body won’t stop at the precise same time, instead, the arms may continue moving forward before coming for a settlement.

Overlapping action is extremely similar within the sense meaning different parts of the body will move at different times.

Example 2: if a personality raises its arm upwards, he will move shoulder first, then arm, elbow, and hand.

6. Slow In And Slow Out

Slow In and Slow Out

The best thanks to understanding this principle is to believe how a car accelerates or slows down: the change from 0 to 100 kilometres/hour isn’t quick, but it takes time to gain speed, a bit like when pressing the pedal the car doesn’t stop instantly, but gradually. By carefully watching changes within the speed of objects, our animation is often made more believable.

In the world, objects and humans apply force before they will reach full speed. Similarly, it takes time to decrease speed before something can come to an entire stop.

Example: A bouncing ball moves faster because it reaches the bottom and becomes slower because it leaves its position.

7. Arcs (Curve)

Arcs (curve)

When an individual is shooting an arrow, it hardly flies straight. Gravity causes objects in motion to arc between the beginning and endpoints. Even many of the natural movements within the physical body advance arcs, like arms, hands, and fingers, The trajectory during a curved line which will follow due to the Earth’s gravity.

Example: head moving left to right in an arc shape.

In the visual poetry “Smile” the creator uses many full and half circle forms to draw, move, colour, shape, and reveal a number of the letterforms.

8. Secondary Action

Secondary action

It serves to support or emphasize the most action, and to offer greater depth to our animation. For instance, we ask the slight movement of the hair while the character walks, or to an easy countenance which will cause you to understand what you’re thinking.

In the physical world, we will observe primary movement only within the motion if an individual is walking. Secondary actions, sort of a one that is swinging its arms while walking, helps support primary movements. Even smaller actions, like the blinking of eyes, also are considered in secondary actions. In secondary animation, it’s important that it doesn’t detract from most animation.

9. Timing


This principle also aims to use the laws of physics observed within the wildlife to animation. If you progress an object too quickly or too slowly, in fact, this action won’t be credible. Instead, by using the days correctly and consistently, it’s possible to speak certain characteristics or reactions of our objects or characters: for instance, something that moves more slowly is going to be perceived as heavier.

In a true animation, timing is an important aspect of animation. Timing also helps in establishing the personality of characters and emotions they need to precise. They used timing because of the main tool for communicating the personality through flat shapes that are representative of body parts.

10. Exaggeration


Some exaggeration added here and there makes our characters or objects more dynamic: therefore, don’t be afraid to push yourself, from time to time, beyond the bounds of the possible. a touch like what happened to the actors of the silent cinema that, without having the ability to calculate the dialogues, but on the contrary need to transmit all the emotions only using expressions, they were often forced to excessively accentuate their acting, expressions and body gestures.

It forms an integral part of Animation because it is an impact that creates an image that looks static and dull. It basically involves altering the physical features of a personality in order that it can catch the audience’s attention.

11. Solid Drawings

Solid Drawings

Never forget the primary principles of 3D design: shape, anatomy, weight, volume, lights, and shadows. Even during this case, we will push beyond the bounds of realism, but we must remain consistent: if in our animated world the doors wobble or the attitude is deformed, this example will remain for the whole animation, otherwise the sense of continuity.

It means animators should have skills for understanding the 3-dimensional shapes in terms of weight, balance, light, and shadow. It means drawing your image in such a fashion in order that it’s alive.

12. Appeal


The characters, objects, and also the world during which they live must attract the eye of the audience: therefore their design must be easy to read and pleasant to see, and their personality interesting. There’s no single scientific formula to understand this principle, but here lies the art of the animator.

In motion design, an appeal is often established before anything moves by choosing a stimulating typeface, creating a visible translation, or transforming images.

A character with an appeal isn’t always attractive. He can have an unsightly character with a particular level of charisma in order that it is sensible within the story.

Last Word

I believe this text is going to be very worthwhile for those that are learning the fundamentals of Animation. Neglecting, reading this text would be like employing a graphics program without knowing about colour, design, and composition. No matter how good the software is, it’ll always depend upon personal skills and expertise.

Enjoy reading this! Do share your views on it.