Updated: Aug 26
As an animator, the 12 principles of animation are the most important methods to master. These 12 principles of animation were created in the 1930s by the pioneers of animation, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (and initially introduced in The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation). They adhere to the basic rules of physics while also accounting for emotions and appeal. While the ideas were initially designed for pencil sketching, they can also be used to digital animation. They should be your go-to resource for generating realistic and engaging character animations.
Explore them, begin learning them, and utilise them as a starting point for creating interesting animations in your own work.
The 12 Basic Principles of Animation
1. Squash and stretch:
Squash and stretch are what give objects their flexibility. A bouncing ball is the easiest way to explain how squash and stretch function. The ball will spread out just before impact as it starts to fall and gains up speed. The ball squashes as it hits the ground before expanding out as it takes flight. Please keep in mind that an object's volume does not alter. When a ball is crushed or stretched, the width and depth of the ball must match.
Assume you're about to kick a soccer ball around. What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you wind up by swinging your foot back? Are you able to keep your arms still? That's what anticipation is all about.
Anticipation is the process of getting ready for the major event. The major movement would be the player striking the soccer ball, and the leg follow-through is good... the continuation.
Staging is the process of putting together a scene, from the characters' positioning to the backdrop and foreground components, the character's mood, and the camera perspective. The objective of staging is to make the audience understand the purpose of the animation. To minimise confusion, keep the focus on what you want to communicate to the audience (while avoiding extraneous detail).
4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose:
There are two types of animation drawings. Drawing each frame of an action one by one as you go along is known as straight ahead action. With pose-to-pose, you begin by drawing the extremes — that is, the beginning and end drawings of motion – before moving on to the middle frame and filling in the gaps.
Pose-to-pose allows you to take more control over the action. Instead of hoping you're getting the timing right, you can see where your character will be at the beginning and finish of the story early on. You can discover any major mistakes early by practising the primary poses first. The issue is that it can be too tidy and perfect at times.
5. Follow-Through and Overlapping Action:
Because everything moves at different speeds and at different points in time in real life, it's critical to capture realistic and fluid movement by following through and overlapping action.
The concept of follow through refers to the idea that certain elements of the body will continue to move after the character has come to a complete halt. The arms may continue forward after a character comes to a halt from walking before resting in a down position. This could also be the situation with apparel items.
Overlapping action (also known as "drag" or "lead and follow") is similar in that it involves the movement of distinct regions of the body at different periods. When a character raises their arm to wave, the shoulder moves first, followed by the arm, the arm, and finally the elbow, before the hand lags behind a few frames. When a blade of grass waves in the wind, you may observe this as well. The base travels first, followed by the remainder of the grass, which moves at varied speeds and creates the waving motion.
Characters that remain still must also show some kind of movement (blinking eyes, breathing, etc.) to keep the animation from appearing "dead." This is referred to as "moving hold."
6. Ease In, Ease Out:
When you start your car, you don’t get up to 60 mph right away. It takes some time to accelerate and maintain a constant pace. This is referred to as an Ease Out in animation.
Similarly, if you brake, you won't come to a complete stop right away. (Unless you hit anything like a tree.) You step on the accelerator and decelerate for a few seconds until you reach a complete stop. This is referred to as an Ease In by animators.
An animation with enhanced plausibility is created by carefully regulating the shifting speeds of objects. preventing them from going "dead." This is referred to as "moving hold."
In actual life, everything is usually moving in an arcing manner. Because people don't move in straight lines naturally, you need stick to this animation technique to produce smooth, realistic movements. The flatter the arc and the broader the turn, the faster anything moves. A robot is the only thing that could move in a completely straight path.
If a character is turning his head, he will make an arcing gesture by dipping his head down during the turn. You should also make sure that more subtle things follow arcs. For example, when a character walks, even the tips of their toes should move in a rounded, arcing motion.
8. Secondary Action:
Secondary action refers to activities that assist or emphasise the main action in order to give the animation more life and make it more realistic. It's vital to remember that the secondary action should be something minor that doesn't interfere with the main action (perhaps even thought of as a subconscious action). As a result, spectacular movements take precedence over other factors such as facial expressions.
Assume a character is in a waiting room conversing with another character. The main action would be the two of them talking, but the secondary action would be one of them nervously tapping their foot. Characters whistling, leaning against a wall, or crossing their arms during a primary action are some examples.
9. Timing and spacing:
Timing refers to the number of frames between two poses, or the speed of action. For example, when a ball goes from screen left to screen right in 24 frames. The ball takes 24 frames or 1 second to reach the other side of the screen (assuming you're operating at the film rate of 24 frames per second). Mood, emotion, and personality can all be influenced by timing.
The spacing of the individual frames is referred to as spacing. In the identical case, the spacing would be determined by how the ball is positioned in the next 23 frames. The ball moves slower when the spacing is close together. The ball moves faster when the spacing is wider.
Exaggeration amplifies a character's appearance and actions for humorous or dramatic effect. This can involve changes to the character's appearance, body type, and expressions, as well as movement. Exaggeration is a terrific approach for an animator to make a character more appealing and enrich the tale.
Let’s take an example of DeerPro video. To demonstrate how much damage deer can do to a yard, the deer transforms into a little tornado of destruction. This is obviously an exaggeration for the sake of humour and to make a point. (It's also a reference to the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes!) The young couple then stands there in fear as the deer destroys their landscaping. Both of their eyes are wide with surprise, and the man's jaw is almost touching the floor. A little frown or small gasp isn't quite as effective as this amplification of their facial features.
11. Solid Drawing:
Solid drawing in 2D animation refers to generating a drawing that is accurate in terms of volume and weight, balance, shadow, and anatomy in a position. Animators must consider how to pose out your 3D character rig in 3D animation to maintain proper balance and weight, as well as a distinct silhouette. Avoid "twinning," which involves establishing a mirrored pose on the other side (both arms on hips or both hands in pockets), as it is a pretty monotonous and unpleasant position.
People remember personalities who are real, fascinating, and engaging. Characters in animated films should be appealing to the eye and charismatic; this includes the antagonists in the tale.
Because everyone has a distinct criterion, it's difficult to quantify appeal. Having said that, you can improve your character's attractiveness by making them pleasant to look at.
To keep things interesting, experiment with different character shapes and dimensions.
Expanding a character's most distinguishing attribute can go a long way toward giving the character individuality. Make an effort to strike a decent balance between complexity and simplicity.