What Are The Principles Of Animation And Their Importance

What Are The Principles Of Animation And Their Importance

There are certain principles in every profession necessary to be followed and mastered to achieve success and become a pro. The same is the case with Animation. If you want to know what are the principles of animations, learn them in his post.

The pioneers of animation Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston developed these principles of animation in the early 1900s, still relevant in recent times. You can call them the laws of physics for animation.

Animation Principles History

If you are wondering what are the principles of animation and what is the history behind it, recall the Nine Old Men. Have you heard of Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, and Frank Thomas? They were some of the core creators of Disney. A lot of famous projects like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and many others are among their work and still are cult classics in the animation world.

Frank and Ollie among other Nine Old Men, created the animation principles. All aspiring animators established themselves using their comprehensive guide and achieve mastery. Despite these principles being made in the 1930s, these principles got recognition in 1981 through the book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation.

All Disney animators consider these principles staple and also these principles are equally followed by animators around the world equally.

What are the Animation Principles?

There are principles of animation we are going to explain below including straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation.  Without further ado, let’s go through each animation principle thoroughly to achieve that level of mastery.

1.      Squash and Stretch

Gravity has an immense impact on living beings. Through squash and stretch, you can witness that impact on the characters, objects, or shapes you animate. It’s an illusion to feel. To attain this, characters to be animated are compressed or squashed and expanded or stretched. It eventually gives the natural movement appearance to the object or scene.

2.      Anticipation

This principle is implied to make a hint about any action that is about to take place. It gives your audience something to look forward to about something that is coming. A lion before jumping will bend its legs back a bit for example. Similarly, a person will look off-screen here and there to find something or wait for someone.

3.      Staging

Setting up the scene is called staging. Setting the scenery to match the shot’s context is part of the staging. It removes the confusion of the audience. It includes the following elements to be kept in mind:

Colors: Keep in mind the hues and tones according to daytime. Mornings should be represented with warm and bright tones, while evening shots should have darker blue tones.

Lighting: Lighting should be adjusted according to shadows. An open field shot characters should have brighter light than the ones under a shade or in-house.

Speed: The background of a character walking might be slower than a character that is running.

4.      Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose

This is a drawing principle of animation having a two-in-one principle. The frame-by-frame drawing of your scene to be animated is called straight-ahead action. If you only draw the important frames and fill the scene with rest later on, it is called Pose-to-pose.

Straight-ahead action is considered if one wants a smoother, more fluid movement and creates the action scenes that make the most sense. However, pose-to-pose is best for more dramatic scenes because the character-stage relationship has more relevance here.

5.      Follow Through and Overlapping Action

The laws of physics are applied in the animation world by follow-through and overlapping action principle. These two are techniques closely related and thus used and named together. The best example of follow-through may be the long flowing hair that keeps moving after the girl or boy turn the face or head.

The explanation of how various parts of the same thing have differences speed in and movement is called overlapping. For example, a tree swaying in the wind may have branches and leaves moving more uncontrollably than its trunk.

6.      Slow In, Slow Out

This principle of animation is also called ‘ease in and ease out’. It enables objects in the animated scene to accelerate when starting a movement and to slow down while they stop. A person running will catch up speed slowly and slows down while stopping.

To implement this law, at the beginning and end of the action, more and more frames are drawn than in the middle of the motion. More realism is added to your animation through the ease in, and ease out principle helping the audience to understand the movement speed of your object.

7.      Secondary Action.

This animation principle helps in emphasizing the scene’s character’s main action through the addition of an extra dimension. Intricacies, such as a person swinging the arm in a certain way while walking down the street, give your creation a specific color to make it seem more human.

Secondary actions are helpful in filling a certain scene with life without taking away any attention from the main action.

8.      Timing.

Animation is all about timing same as in real life. You have to implement this principle with perfection to make your animation seems real. The timing makes everything in your animation work according to the physics laws. For example, the character’s size and weight’s relation to their action or their background should be kept in mind. If you push a heavy character, its reaction will be slower than the reaction of a lightweight object or person.

The Importance of Animation Principles

The importance of animation principles is indeed significant. These principles will allow you to intact with the basic animation formation and you will come up with the perfect scenes you ever wanted.


These were a few of the 12 principles of animation described if you were searching for what are the principles of animation. These principles are crucial to follow if you want to come up with an animation that is perfect and feels close to reality. These animation rules and principles are followed all over the world to create fantastic animated videos, series, scenes, or stories that are not only loved by audiences but also get critical acclamation worldwide.

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