12 Principles of Animation: Become a Master of Art
May 15, 2023. 8 min read
You will always strive to bring your creations to life as an artist. But how do you achieve that? How can you make your characters, objects, and scenes look like they have a soul? The answer lies in the “12 Principles of Animation: The Fundamentals of Bringing Life to Your Art.”
In this article, we will explore these principles in detail. We will see how each contributes to making your animation more realistic, engaging, and entertaining. Whether a beginner or a seasoned professional, this guide will help you enhance your skills and take your art to the next level.
Before we delve into the 12 Principles of Animation, let’s first understand what they are and where they come from. Two Disney animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, introduced these principles in their book “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation.” It was Published in 1981; this book has since become a bible for animators and has influenced generations of artists.
The 12 Principles of Animation are not rules that you must follow strictly. Instead, they are guidelines that can help you create better animation. Understanding these principles and applying them to your work can add more depth, appeal, and believability to your art.
The 12 Principles of Animation
Here are the 12 Principles of Animation that we will discuss in detail:
Squash and Stretch
The first principle, Squash and Stretch, refers to how an object changes shape as it moves. Applying this principle allows you to create a sense of weight, mass, and elasticity in your animation. For example, a ball that bounces on the ground should squash as it hits the surface and stretches as it rebounds.
Anticipation is the principle of preparing the audience for an action before it happens. Showing a character’s anticipation can build tension, create surprise, and make your animation more engaging. For example, before a character jumps, it may bend its knees and lower its centre of gravity.
Staging is the art of presenting your animation in a clear, readable, and appealing way. Using staging, you can guide the viewer’s eye, emphasize the main Action, and create a sense of depth and composition. For example, you may use a strong pose, a camera angle, or a colour contrast to highlight the most important part of the scene.
Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Straight Ahead Action is the method of animating frame by frame, from the first to the last. This technique is ideal for creating dynamic, spontaneous, and free-flowing animation. On the other hand, Pose to Pose is the method of animating key poses first and then filling in the gaps. This technique is ideal for creating controlled, polished, and planned animation.
Follow Through and Overlapping Action
Follow Through, and Overlapping Action are two principles that work together to create a sense of natural motion. Follow Through refers to how parts of the body move after the main Action is completed. Overlapping Action refers to the way that different parts of the body move at different speeds. By combining these principles, you can create an animation that looks organic, fluid, and
Slow In and Slow Out
Slow In and Slow Out refer to how objects accelerate and decelerate. Adding more frames at the beginning and end of an action can create a smoother and more natural motion. This principle is particularly useful for creating realistic movements, such as a car accelerating or a person walking.
Arcs refer to the way that objects move in a curved trajectory. By following natural arcs, you can create an animation that looks more fluid and organic. This principle is particularly useful for animating characters’ body movements, such as arms, legs, and heads.
Secondary Action refers to the way that objects can have multiple movements at the same time. Adding secondary actions can create more depth and interest in your animation. For example, a character may walk while waving their arms or talk while blinking their eyes.
Timing is the principle of determining the speed and spacing of an action. You can create different moods and emotions in your animation by controlling the timing. For example, a slow motion can create a sense of drama, while a fast motion can create a sense of excitement.
Exaggeration refers to how objects can be pushed beyond their realistic limits. By exaggerating the movements and expressions of your characters, you can create a more appealing and entertaining animation. For example, a character may have an exaggerated facial expression when surprised or scared.
Solid Drawing refers to the way that objects are drawn in three-dimensional space. By using solid Drawing, you can create an animation that looks more believable and convincing. This principle is useful for creating complex shapes and movements, such as a character’s hand rotating or a car turning.
Appeal refers to how characters and objects are designed to be visually attractive and memorable. Creating appealing characters can make your animation more engaging and memorable. This principle is particularly useful for creating animated films, TV shows, and games that resonate with audiences.
The 12 Principles of Animation are a valuable tool for any animator looking to create high-quality animation that looks realistic, engaging, and entertaining. By applying these principles to your work, you can enhance your skills as an animator and produce an animation that stands out in today’s crowded media landscape. Whether you’re working on a 2D or 3D animation project, stop-motion animation, or any other type of animation, the 12 Principles of Animation can help you bring your characters and scenes to life.
So, if you’re an aspiring animator, take the time to learn and master these principles. With practice and dedication, you can create an animation that is both visually stunning and emotionally impactful.