12 Principles of Animation for Beginners

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With the growing ambiguity in digital devices, moving objects and technology, motion design has become an integral part of one’s creativity. When a designer thinks of moving a object, various programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or coding languages such as HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery comes to our mind. Understanding the methods of how to mould the different motions in a picture and understanding the reason why things are happening around is a key to success for creating a beautiful design.

The concept of motion has been evolved long time ago but the advanced tools have evolved now which increased the usability of experimental Animation among users.

.Designer and Animator describes the 10 basic principles of Animation for beginners. While some principles are closely related to each other, there are also some differences that can be related to the design.

1. Squash and Stretch in Animation

Squash and Stretch in Animation

Adding exaggeration to an object in motion gives it a greater sense of weight and volume. This principle is descibed with a bouncing ball, the ball appears stretched when it is falling and get squashed when it hits the ground. By squashing and stretching the ball, an animator gives a more realistic feel.

The above figure uses Squash and Stretch to change objects, such as rounded corner rectangle. If we use Squash and Stretch in an object it will add weight and volume in the flat tone graphics through the motion design.

2. Staging in Animation


It is presentation of idea for establishing good mood, creating focus and clarifying what is happening in the picture.

The main objective of staging is to tell customers exactly where the action will occur so that they do not miss anything. This means that only one idea at a time occur, or else the viewers may be looking at the wrong thing. A good example of staging in motion is eye, which is drawn in an motion in an otherwise still scene. In a scene when we see everything is moving around, the eye is drawn as a still object.

3.  Pose to Pose & Straight Head Action in Animation

Pose to Pose & Straight Head Action in Animation

Straight ahead action refers to the different techniques of drawing each pose, one after the other, which can yield a unique animation style. Pose to Pose refers to the animation technique in which key frames are planned ahead of each other and then connected one after the other. Pose to Pose usually leads to a proportional animation that is very appealing and convincing to the eye.

4. Slow In and Slow Out

 Slow In and Slow Out

In the physical world, objects and humans apply momentum before they can reach full speed. Similarly, it takes time to decrease speed before something can come to a complete stop.

For example, a bouncing ball moves faster as it approaches or leaves the ground and becomes slower as it leaves its position.

5. Arc in Animation

 Arc in Animation

When a person is shooting an arrow, it hardly flies straight. Gravity causes objects in motion to arc between the start and end points. Even many of the natural movements in human body move on arcs, such as arms, hands, and fingers etc. In the visual poetry “Happiness,” the creator uses many full and half circle forms to draw, move, color, shape and reveal some of the letter forms.

6. Secondary Action in Animation

Secondary Action in Animation

In the physical world, we can observe primary movement only in the motion if a person is walking. Secondary actions, like a person who is swinging its arms while walking or “birds” rippling its feathers, helps support primary movements. Even smaller actions, such as blinking of eyes are also considered in secondary actions. In secondary animation, it is important that it doesn’t detract from main animation.

7. Timing in Animation

In a true animation, timing is an essential aspect of animation. Timing also helps in establishing personality of characters and emotions they want to express. They used timing as the main tool for communicating the personality through flat shapes that are representive of body parts.

Timing in Animation

8. Appeal in Animation

Appeal in Animation

A character with appeal isn’t always attractive. He or she can have an ugly or evil character with a certain level of charisma so that it makes sense within the story. In motion design, appeal can be established before anything moves by choosing an interesting typeface, creating a visual translation, or transforming images.

9. Anticipation in Animation

Anticipation in Animation

Anticipation in animation is used for target audience for an action that is about to happen. An easy way to think about this is that if a character is about to walk forward, they will move it back slightly, this will raise their momentum and will also let the people know how this person will move. For example, if a character is reaching for a glass kept on a table, it will move its hand back before moving it in the forward direction.

10. Follow Through and Overlapping Action in Animation

Follow Through and Overlapping Action in Animation

Follow through and Overlapping action can be considered two different principles, but they’re closely related to each other. Follow through is the idea that separate some parts of the body and will continue moving even after the character has come to a stop also.

For example, if a character comes to a stop after a walk, every part of the body won’t stop at the exact same time, instead the arms may continue moving forward before coming for a settlement.

Overlapping action is very similar in the sense that means different parts of the body will move at different times. For example, if a character raises its arm upwards, he will move shoulder first, then arm, elbow, and hand.

11. Exaggeration in Animation


It forms an integral part of Animation as it a effect that make picture look static and dull. It basically involves altering the physical features of a character so that it can catch audience attention.

12. Solid Drawing in Animation

It means that animator should have skills for understanding the 3 dimensional shapes in terms of weight, balance, light, and shadow. It means drawing your image in such a manner so that it looks alive.

I believe, this article will be very worthwhile for those who are learning the basics of Animation. Neglecting, reading this article would be like using a graphics program without knowing about color, design, and composition. No matter how good the software is, it will always depend on the person skills and ability.

Enjoy reading this! Do share your reviews on it.

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