principles of animation

The principles of animation are a set of guidelines that were developed by Walt Disney Studios animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their book “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation”. These principles provide a foundation for creating lifelike and appealing animation, and have been widely adopted by animators in the industry.

 Here are the 12 principles of animation:

 1.      Squash and stretch: This principle involves exaggerating the shape and volume of an object to give it the appearance of weight and flexibility. This helps to make movement look more dynamic and natural.

 2.    Anticipation: Anticipation involves preparing the viewer for an upcoming action. For example, a character might lean back before running forward to build momentum.

 3.     Staging: Staging refers to the way in which an action is presented to the viewer. It involves framing the shot and positioning the characters and objects to make the action clear and easy to follow.

 4.    Straight-ahead action and pose-to-pose: These two techniques refer to different approaches to animating movement. Straight ahead action involves creating the animation frame by frame, while pose to pose involves planning out key poses and then filling in the in-between frames.

 5.    Follow through and overlapping action: These principles refer to the way in which different parts of a character’s body move in response to an action. Follow through involves allowing parts of the body to continue moving after the main action has stopped, while overlapping action involves creating secondary movements that follow the main action.

 6.    Slow in and slow out: This principle involves using more frames at the beginning and end of an action to make it appear more realistic. This helps to create a sense of weight and momentum.

 7.    Arcs: The arcs principle involves creating movements that follow a natural arc or curve. This helps to create a sense of flow and gracefulness in the animation.

 8.    Secondary action: Secondary actions are additional movements that help to enhance the main action. For example, a character might flap their arms while running to give the impression of greater speed.

 9.    Timing: Timing is crucial in animation, as it determines the speed and rhythm of movement. The timing should be carefully planned to ensure that the animation looks natural and convincing.

 10. Exaggeration: Exaggeration involves pushing the limits of reality to create a more expressive and entertaining animation. This can involve exaggerating facial expressions or movements to create a more dramatic effect.

 11.   Solid drawing: Solid drawing involves creating characters and objects that appear three-dimensional and solid. This requires a good understanding of anatomy, perspective, and lighting.

 12.  Appeal: Appeal refers to the overall attractiveness and charm of the animation. A character or object that is appealing will capture the viewer’s attention and create an emotional connection. This can be achieved through the use of interesting designs, personality, and movement. 


By following these principles, animators can create animations that are lifelike, expressive, and engaging for the viewer.

Squash and Stretch -technique

The squash and stretch principle is a fundamental concept in animation, which involves exaggerating the movement of an object or character to create a more dynamic and visually appealing animation. This principle is based on the idea that all objects and characters have a natural elasticity, which allows them to be stretched or compressed to some extent.


When an object or character is moving, it undergoes different changes in shape, size, and volume, which can be emphasized by applying the squash and stretch principle. For example, when a ball bounces, it flattens slightly when it hits the ground and stretches when it reaches the peak of its bounce.


In animation, this principle is used to give life and personality to characters and objects by creating the illusion of weight, mass, and momentum. By exaggerating the movements of an object or character, animators can create a sense of anticipation, impact, and follow-through, which makes the animation more engaging and believable.


The squash and stretch principle can be applied to various types of animation, such as 2D, 3D, stop-motion, and even hand-drawn animations. It is essential for animators to understand the physics behind the movement of objects and characters to apply the squash and stretch principle effectively.



In conclusion, the squash and stretch principle is a fundamental concept in animation that involves exaggerating the movements of an object or character to create a more dynamic and visually appealing animation. By applying this principle, animators can create a sense of weight, mass, and momentum, which makes the animation more engaging and believable.