The 12 Principles of Animation

These principles of animation are taken from WIKI for your convenience.

Animation Principle No. 1

Squash & Stretch

The purpose of squash and stretch is to give a sense of weight and flexibility to drawn objects. It can be applied to simple objects, like a bouncing ball, or more complex constructions, like the musculature of a human face.Taken to an extreme, a figure stretched or squashed to an exaggerated degree can have a comical effect.In realistic animation, however, the most important aspect of this principle is that an object’s volume does not change when squashed or stretched. If the length of a ball is stretched vertically, its width (in three dimensions, also its depth) needs to contract correspondingly horizontally.

Animation Principle No. 2

Anticipation

Anticipation is used to prepare the audience for an action, and to make the action appear more realistic. A dancer jumping off the floor has to bend the knees first; a golfer making a swing has to swing the club back first. The technique can also be used for less physical actions, such as a character looking off-screen to anticipate someone’s arrival, or attention focusing on an object that a character is about to pick up.

Animation Principle No. 3

Staging

This principle is akin to staging, as it is known in theater and film.Its purpose is to direct the audience’s attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene; Johnston and Thomas defined it as “the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear”, whether that idea is an action, a personality, an expression, or a mood.This can be done by various means, such as the placement of a character in the frame, the use of light and shadow, or the angle and position of the camera. The essence of this principle is keeping focus on what is relevant, and avoiding unnecessary detail.

Animation Principle No. 4

Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose

These are two different approaches to the drawing process. Straight ahead action scenes are animated frame by frame from beginning to end, while “pose to pose” involves starting with drawing a few key frames, and then filling in the intervals later. “Straight ahead action” creates a more fluid, dynamic illusion of movement, and is better for producing realistic action sequences. On the other hand, it is hard to maintain proportions and to create exact, convincing poses along the way. “Pose to pose” works better for dramatic or emotional scenes, where composition and relation to the surroundings are of greater importance. A combination of the two techniques is often used.

Animation Principle No. 5

Follow through and overlapping action

“Follow through” means that loosely tied parts of a body should continue moving after the character has stopped and the parts should keep moving beyond the point where the character stopped only to be subsequently “pulled back” towards the center of mass or exhibiting various degrees of oscillation damping. “Overlapping action” is the tendency for parts of the body to move at different rates (an arm will move on different timing of the head and so on). A third, related technique is “drag”, where a character starts to move and parts of them take a few frames to catch up.

Animation Principle No. 6

Slow "in" and slow "out"

The movement of objects in the real world, such as the human body, animals, vehicles, etc. needs time to accelerate and slow down. For this reason, more pictures are drawn near the beginning and end of an action, creating a slow in and slow out effect in order to achieve more realistic movements. This concept emphasizes the object’s extreme poses. Inversely, fewer pictures are drawn within the middle of the animation to emphasize faster action. This principle applies to characters moving between two extreme poses, such as sitting down and standing up, but also for inanimate, moving objects.

Animation Principle No. 7

Arcs

Most natural action tends to follow an arched trajectory, and animation should adhere to this principle by following implied “arcs” for greater realism. This technique can be applied to a moving limb by rotating a joint, or a thrown object moving along a parabolic trajectory. The exception is mechanical movement, which typically moves in straight lines. As an object’s speed or momentum increases, arcs tend to flatten out in moving ahead and broaden in turns. In baseball, a fastball would tend to move in a straighter line than other pitches; while a figure skater moving at top speed would be unable to turn as sharply as a slower skater, and would need to cover more ground to complete the turn.

Animation Principle No. 8

Slow "in" and slow "out"

Adding secondary actions to the main action gives a scene more life, and can help to support the main action. A person walking can simultaneously swing their arms or keep them in their pockets, speak or whistle, or express emotions through facial expressions. The important thing about secondary actions is that they emphasize, rather than take attention away from the main action. If the latter is the case, those actions are better left out.For example, during a dramatic movement, facial expressions will often go unnoticed. In these cases, it is better to include them at the beginning and the end of the movement, rather than during.

Animation Principle No. 9

Timing

Timing refers to the number of drawings or frames for a given action, which translates to the speed of the action on film. On a purely physical level, correct timing makes objects appear to obey the laws of physics. For instance, an object’s weight determines how it reacts to an impetus, like a push; as a lightweight object will react faster than a heavily weighted one. Timing is critical for establishing a character’s mood, emotion, and reaction. It can also be a device to communicate aspects of a character’s personality.

Animation Principle No. 10

Exaggeration

Exaggeration is an effect especially useful for animation, as animated motions that strive for a perfect imitation of reality can look static and dull. The level of exaggeration depends on whether one seeks realism or a particular style, like a caricature or the style of a specific artist. The classical definition of exaggeration, employed by Disney, was to remain true to reality, just presenting it in a wilder, more extreme form. Other forms of exaggeration can involve the supernatural or surreal, alterations in the physical features of a character; or elements in the story line itself. It is important to employ a certain level of restraint when using exaggeration.

Animation Principle No. 11

Solid Drawing

The principle of solid drawing means taking into account forms in three-dimensional space, or giving them volume and weight. The animator needs to be a skilled artist and has to understand the basics of three-dimensional shapes, anatomy, weight, balance, light and shadow, etc. For the classical animator, this involved taking art classes and doing sketches from life. One thing in particular that Johnston and Thomas warned against was creating “twins”: characters whose left and right sides mirrored each other, and looked lifeless.

Animation Principle No. 12

Exaggeration

Appeal in a cartoon character corresponds to what would be called charisma in an actor. A character who is appealing is not necessarily sympathetic; villains or monsters can also be appealing, the important thing is that the viewer feels the character is real and interesting. There are several tricks for making a character connect better with the audience; for likable characters, a symmetrical or particularly baby-like face tends to be effective. A complicated or hard to read face will lack appeal or ‘captivation’ in the composition of the pose or character design.

These principles of animation are taken from WIKI for your convenience.

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