18 October ’16

Within animation there are twelve principles or rules that animators follow when creating their cartoons.

Squash and Stretch – Gives the illusion of weight and volume to a character as it moves. Its also useful in animating any dialogue and facial expressions. Its used in all forms of animation from bouncing a ball to the body weight of a walking person.

Animation – This prepares the audience for a major action the character will make such as beginning to run, jump or change expressions. Backwards motions occur before forward motions happen, like when a character is bracing themselves for a run.

Staging – A pose or action that should clearly communicate the attitude, mood, reaction or idea of the character as it relates to the story and continuity of the story line. Since there is a limited time within animation, each scene should be specific to, and relate to the story.

Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose Animation – Straight ahead animation starts at the first drawing and works drawing to drawing to the end of a scene. Size, volume and proportions can be lost with this method but it does have spontaneity and freshness. Fast action scenes are done this way. Pose to Pose is more planned and charted with key drawings happening at intervals throughout and having more control over size, volume and proportions.

Follow through and Overlapping – More drawings appear near the starting pose, one or two in the middle and more near the end. Fewer drawing makes the action faster and more make it slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action to make it more lifelike. For a gag action, some slow-outs or slow-ins may be omitted for shock and surprise.

Arcs – All actions, follow an arc or a  slightly circular path – however there are some exceptions. This is true of human and animal figures. Arcs are used to give more natural actions and better flows. Like pendulums have a natural swing, animators attempt to re-create this with head turns, arm swings, eye movements etc to be more appealing and accurate.

Secondary Action – Adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimensions to the character animation supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. an example is an angry  character walking – the walk is forceful with stomping actions, forward leaning and aggressive suggestions. Arms would move and flow with the walk and dialogue would be delivered with tilts and turns.

Timing – Coming best with experience timing uses more drawing and poses to slow and smooth the action. Fewer drawings make the action faster and crisper while a variety of slow and fast timing within a scene adds texture and interest to the movements. There is also timing in the acting of the character/s to establish mood, emotions and reactions to another character, scene or situation.

Exaggeration – Exaggeration is not extreme distortion but highlights of expressions and movement to make them more appealing within a scene, attenuating their features to make them stand out.

Appeal – All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. Appeal has an easy to read design, clear drawings and personality development that will capture the viewing audiences’ interests.


12 Principles of Animation video: 


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