Animation Principles


In the 1930′s, animators at
Walt Disney Studios created a list of twelve principles of animation to help aid
in the training of their new animators. These principles are now the basis for
virtually all animation education curricula, though the original list of twelve
is sometimes modified and shortened by some educators. Though the list was
originally created in regards to traditional animation (i.e., hand drawn, with
an emphasis on character animation), most, if not all, principles directly apply
to animation techniques associated with motion graphics.

What makes cartoon characters
get into any kind of a shape? What creates that elasticity? What makes Japanese
animation more robotic or rigid when compared to the animation ones? What makes
certain styles more appealing then others? The answer is Animation Principles
Over the years experts have evolved the principles mentioned below as the GOLDEN
RULES for creating animation to its best form.

The principles of animation
were created in the early 1930s by animators at the Walt Disney Studios. These
principles were used to guide production and creative discussions as well to
train young animators better and faster. These principles became one of the
foundations of hand-drawn cartoon character animation. The principles, as they
are commonly referred to, also helped to transform animation from a novelty into
an art form. By applying these principles to their work these pioneering
animators produced many of the earliest animated feature films that became
classics: Snow White (1937), Pinocchio and Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and
Bambi (1942).

The principles are mostly about
five things, acting the performance, directing the performance, representing
reality (through drawing, modeling, and rendering), interpreting real world
physics, and editing a sequence of actions. The original principles are still
relevant today because they help us to create more believable characters and
situations. They can be applied to almost any type of animation, even though
they work best for comedy. But, some of these principles require updates, and a
few new additional principles are also needed to address the new techniques and
styles of three-dimensional computer animation.

Animation techniques and
styles, and the scope of productions, have changed tremendously since the 1930s.
The dominant, almost exclusive, style of animation then was hand-drawn
pose-to-pose cartoon narrative animation. Today we have more styles including
non-linear interactive videogames and non-narrative music videos. In the 1930s
some animation techniques and capabilities were underdeveloped, camera moves and
lighting for example, or misunderstood: rot scoping or stop-motion. Consider too
the new tools that have transformed our craft: hand-held cameras, television,
non-linear editing, compositing, motion capture, computer graphics and
procedural tools. Other art forms have greatly evolved since the 1930s, creating
new languages and new principles. It is time to do the same with animation, it
is time to reinterpret and expand the original principles.
Animation Principles are:

Key Drawings / Frames -Frames are the
individual images that make up the timeline of the animation.Keyframe show
important incremental stages in the animation of the subject

Posing – Creating essential key frames that
carries the action of the character in a specified path of action

Inbetween - Drawings that come between key

Path of action – The path along which the
action follows

Arcs – The visual path of action for natural

Staging – Presenting an idea so that it is
unmistakably clear

Timing- Spacing actions to define the weight
and size of objects and the personality of characters

Spacing – Allocation and placing of the

Stretch & Squash – Defining the rigidity and
mass of an object by distorting its shape during an action

Anticipation - The
preparation for an action

Slow-in & Slow-out - The spacing of the
inbetween frames to achieve subtlety of timing and movement

Exaggeration – Accentuating the essence of an
idea via the design and the action

Follow through & Overlapping -  The
termination of an action and establishing its relationship to the next action

Straight Ahead and Pose-to-Pose action – The
two contrasting approaches to the creation of movement

Secondary Action – The action of an object
resulting from another action

Appeal - Creating
a design or an action that the audience enjoys watching

Solid Drawing – Basic principles of drawing