• Expert Guide: The 12 Basic Principles of Animation

Expert Guide: The 12 Basic Principles of Animation

The book Illusion of Life: Disney Animation reveals 12 basic principles of animation for the creative artist to follow for making incredible animations. If you follow the basic rules, you will be able to make characters and define their movements smoothly and more like a professional. These twelve principles are not only relevant for every animation field but help animators in bringing finishing in their work. Let’s take a closer look at the principles and start making appealing animations.

Squash and Stretch

One of the most important principles involved in animation is squash and stretch. If you master this technique, you will be able to understand most of the animation. You have to take into account different principles of physics mixed into a touch of exaggeration. The principle of weight, density and mass all create an impact and the amount of force and pressure is involved in stretching an object, all play an equal role. When you practice squash and stretch, you have to keep the volume of your object constant. Upon stretching, your object should become thinner and it becomes wider upon squashing.


Staging is an art. You can use it to attract the user’s eye and then make it move to the point, which you think is important. You actually make the eyeball move according to your will take it to the important areas. You can keep their focus on the most important aspect.


Anticipation is the touch of technique where you make the viewer predict the next move. For instance, you bend your knees before you jump, the movement you bend your knees anybody near you will get an idea that you are about to jump. In the same way, anticipation is used in animation to predict the movement.

Overlapping Action

To add a realistic touch in your character’s movement the principle of overlapping is used. In this technique, you have to keep the movements and their duration at different duration. For instance, if a character is running and comes to halt his hair will not stop moving just as he stands still. So, in this way, animators pay focus on different areas at the same time.

Pose to Pose

In pose-to-pose technique, you get to create the beginning and end frame and the middle one step by step. Once you have worked on the three main frames you go back to start and complete the rest of the framework. This is called the pose-to-pose technique, which provides you with better control over your work.

Slow In and Slow Out

In the technique of slow in and slow out, you have to work on giving a pace to the character’s movement. It starts slow initially and then catches a pace. You have to take care of that pace and make sure that the speed, force, and momentum all synchronizes.

Secondary Action

It’s clear from the term that secondary action is used to highlight the main action. You add external object movement to create a realistic touch into your overall animation. It’s about the movement of hair and clothes as you let your character walk. The bounce of tires as he races his vehicle.


As you know how important it is to stick close to the laws of psychics, in making the animation you have to see at what angle your object bends and then pace back. The explainer animation companies have to keep in mind the speed and force along with the size and weight of the object.


Similarly, as crucial it is to take care of weight and everything else, you have to keep a check on the time taken by your object. You have to be careful in selecting the time frame to bring the movement into the realistic phase. The right appearance of frames will let the users connect with your creation more efficiently or else all your efforts to create an impact will go down the drain.


The spark of animation is it being blended into exaggeration. Without the touch of exaggeration, the animation will not create much of an impact. Hence, you have to show some movements that are not real or can defy the rules of physics a bit. You simply have to mold your techniques making it look like realistic unrealistic.

Solid Drawing

In Solid drawing, you have to focus on drawing an object in the three-dimensional framework. You have to check it from every perspective.


The last is adding appeal in your work. You have to unleash your most creative side add colors and finishing to capture the attention of your target viewers.

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