The 12 Principles of Animation

An animator must consider the 12 Principles of Animation when animating to make it perfect. Its in the front of your mind when animating, so I suppose I should learn them, right?

Timing and Spacing

This gives objects and characters the illusion of moving within the laws of physics. Timing refers to FPS, like if a person moves from left to right and it takes 24 frames, that is the timing.

Squash and Stretch

This gives flexibility to an object. Squash is the action of momentarily compressing, like a ball hitting the ground. And stretching is the action of decompressing, becoming bigger almost, like when ball travels upwards.


This is used to show the watcher that an action is about to happen. For example a person swinging forward, must swing back first in the boundaries of physics.

Ease In, Ease Out

This defines how an object must accelerate or decelerate to gain its speed, instead of instantly gaining top speed, as this would be unrealistic. Like a car, it needs to increase its speed, not start at top speed.

Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Follow through is the idea of certain parts of the object still move, even though the body has stopped. Like arms when a character is walking. Overlapping action is very similar, and refers to different body parts moving at different times. Like waving, first the shoulder moves, then the arm.


Everything should try and move in arcs to keep animation smooth. For example a character turning his head will dip down before coming back up.


This is used to show pushing or pulling movements further to appeal more to an action. Like creating a cartoon style animation, really struggling to push an object.

Solid Drawing

This basically applies to both 2D and 3D characters / rigs. It involves creating a character with correct balance and weight under the laws of physics. Also to avoid things like mirroring each side of the character, because this is generally impossible in real life.


Creating an exaggerated and relatable character will work well. A confusing character will not stick in an audience’s head. Things like exaggerated jaw drops, and huge eyes make a character more appealing.

Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose

2 methods of animation. Straight ahead is more time consuming, but perfectionate. You animate lots of scenes and then roll them together into one animation. But with pose to pose, you only pose the character in some different key states and the rest is completed for you.

Secondary Action

This is where a character who is doing a main action has a second action to reinforce the animation. For example a main character speaking, would be his main action, and tapping his foot nervously would be a secondary action.


This relates to the position of the background, foreground, camera and characters. This is to make sure the audience see the main animation and figure out what is happening with ease.




2 thoughts on “The 12 Principles of Animation

Add yours

  1. Hi Charlie, I enjoyed reading your blog. I think it would be even better if you could point to some examples of where you can see the principles in action. This is a link to an old Tom and Jerry cartoon.

    Does any of it illustrate any of them? Do the rules change across drawn 2D, CGI 3D, or stop motion? Or are the rules the same, but the mediums just look different?

    Keep up the good work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: