12 Principles of Animation

12 principles of animation, animation fundamentals, animation;
Basic Animation Principles

If you notice children in your home they are so attached to the cartoons, why children? you also were so much attached with cartoons in the childhood. Did you ever wondered to know the reason how the animators make us laugh, bring emotions, believes, etc..? I guess no, but today we explain you main reason why you and your children liked the cartoons most and the role of 12 Principles of Animation.

The 12 Principles of Animation were presented for the first time by the animators of Disney, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in his book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. The 1930’s and later, the principles have been adopted by almost every professional animator, and became the “Bible of animation”.

These Principles originally created for hand-drawn Animation, but later due to the advancement in the technology, Computer Animation’s became boom in the market.

The importance of 12 Principles of Animation is to bring life for a character, object or any living and non living things, to entertain and make you feel as if that character is in real life.

12 Principles of Animation

1. Squash and Stretch

Squash and StretchThe foremost principle among 12 Principles of Animation is Squash and Stretch, the main motive is to give a sense of weight, mass, gravity and flexibility for an object or a character.

Here, the main rule we have to understand is the volume does not change when it squashes or stretch. The best example is a rubber ball, when you throw it on air and come back to hit the ground as shown in the image, when a ball is Stretched vertically, it has to contract correspondingly horizontally without compromising the volume.

From this we can sense the life of an object and type of material used for the object easily. Similarly to the characters actions also, this principle is applied.

2. Anticipation

AnticipationThis is the second principle among 12 Principles of Animation, here we prepare the viewers mind for an action which can be assumed before action.

For instance, when a person is jumping he has to bend his knee first before jumping, if he directly jumps it does not give you good feel right? At the time he bends only viewer can anticipate that he is going to jump. Simply to tell the pre-action to the main action.

Other best example is your car, when you start – directly it will not go forward, it goes slightly backward and move forward, hence it applies to the objects and characters which implies according to the situation.

3. Staging

StagingThis principle is to arrange the background elements which is focused or non-focused such as cameras, story, lights, properties, emotions and reactions, attitude, timing etc.

The main motive is to grab the attention of the viewer to  show the things which is important in the scene. The staging should be co-operative to the scene and helpful to narrate the story.

For example, a rich man character scene cannot be taken in a hut, there will be mismatch with the story and the environment, hence the foreground and background should be matched.

4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

Straight Ahead Action and Pose to PoseThis principle talk about the movement of an object or character along with the time gap to the different poses. In simply way, Straight Ahead Action is where we animate every single key frame for the action and Pose to Pose is where we fill the gaps between the poses by few key frames in between them.

This can be done easily in today’s 3D Technology but it was used in hand drawn Animation to complete the scene, very hardest one but still even today for 2D Animations telling story to make a featured films, these are used.

In drawing, the main difficulty was to maintain the same proportions of volume, mass and shape, but now it has become easy to change its action without losing properties. Sometimes both methods complement to get nice output.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Follow Through and Overlapping ActionThe Fifth principle among 12 Principle of Animation is Follow Through and Overlapping Action which can be seen an example through this image.

When a boy running in a competition and suddenly stops in the end line, his all the body parts rest in different timing(the arm may move different timing from the head) this is know as Overlapping Action.

And when he stops the hair, clothes or the antenna as shown in picture rests after moving little forward and backward know as a Follow Through, this happens because of the center of mass differs in degree.

6. Slow-in and Slow-out

Slow-in and Slow-outIn this principle if you observe any movement in our daily life, the starting and the ending action will be slow, similarly in the animation also to look realistic same procedure is followed.

For example, in the running race competition, you will start slowly then pickup the speed and at the end of the goal you slow down, same thing applies to the virtual world to bring the life in the character or the object.

Other best example is Aeroplane take off and landing, in Animation this can be achieved by adding more key frames a the beginning and end of the action.

7. Arcs

ArcsThis Principle talks about Arcs which is universal apart from the mechanical things. Sometimes even mechanical things works in Arcs for example imagine a pendulum how it works?

So, all the living beings on this planet moves in an Arc even their actions too. In animation also, we have to make the points for hands, legs, body, etc..  just like joints in our body, acting the points has gravity and rest the action accordingly with comparison to the real movement of our body. The traditional Animators draw Arc frames lightly only for reference to the next scene as shown in the image.

8. Secondary Action

Secondary ActionThis is the eight principle among 12 Principles of Animation, adding secondary actions to the main action gives more life to a scene and can support the main action.

For instance, many people eat the food by watching television, here eating becomes the Primary action and watching television becomes Secondary action, similarly answering to a question and scratching your head, etc.

The Secondary action may or may not be highlighted but supports the main course of action.

9. Timing

TimingThis is the principle which has got more importance than any other, the more frames you add the smoother the Animation and slow, the less frames you add the sharper the Animation and fast actions.

Here Timing not only covers the speed of the character or an object but also size, weight and attitude. For example, the time taken by a car and bike to make U-turn will differ right? that is what timing here means

It also explains the nature of the character, psychology, attitude, believes, values, etc.

10. Exaggeration

ExaggerationToo much realism can ruin an animation, making it static and boring. Add a bit of exaggeration to your characters and objects to make them more dynamic. Find ways to overcome limits beyond what is possible, and your animations get attention.

For instance, if a person is angry and ready to hit someone, it can be shown exaggeratedly by making more reaction like smoke coming from his nose as the symbol of anger which will supplement the main action.

If a scene contains more elements then you should know how to balance the exaggeration to avoid confusion to the viewer.

11. Solid Drawing and Solid Posing

Solid Drawing and Solid PosingThe Principle of Solid drawing should contain good shape, gravity according to the needs and balancing weights for the characters or objects.

Solid Posing here means they should contain the feelings, intention, attitude, intention, etc. according to the story and the situation of the character.

In today’s generation Computer technology made easy to do all these things with less effort but before hand-drawing was a very difficult and time consuming activity.

12. Appeal

AppealThis is the last principle among 12 Principles of Animation, but never the less having more importance. Here Appeal is also known as charisma of the character which describes the background, nature and attitude.

In the scenes, no character to be neglected every character like hero, villain, comedian, animals has its own nature which should be respected and showcase in the screen there are different methods used like giving background music for the entry of the hero, setting properties for the villain, facial expressions, and many more..

All the above mentioned 12 Principles of Animation is used regardless of the software’s you use, because Disney Animator’s, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas has struggled for the Animation and the experience they got came to us in the form of 12 Principles of Animation, without which the Animation will not complete.



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