10 Basic Principles of Animation

Disney’s 12 animation concepts were first developed by creators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. This book examines the work of leading Disney animators from the 1930s to the present, and Johnston and Thomas distill their approach to 12 fundamental concepts of animation.

These rules, which serve as the foundation for all animation practice, learnt in best animation institute in Kolkata; are applicable in a variety of fields. While the most obvious use is for animating a character, these principles are also an indispensable reference in other fields, such as when incorporating motion into the application with CSS animation.

Here are the ten major ones taught in animation institute in Kolkata.

Squash and stretch

The aim of squash and stretch is to give drawn objects a feeling of weight and versatility. It may be extended to specific objects, such as a bouncing ball, or to more complicated structures, such as the muscle strength of a human face. A figure bent or crushed to an excessive degree may have a comical impact when taken to an extreme. 

The most critical feature of this concept of practical animation, though, is that an object’s volume does not change when squashed or stretched. If a moon’s circumference is extended vertically, its width and depth in 3 components would compress commensurately horizontally.


Anticipation is used to get the viewer ready for an event and to make the action feel more believable. A performer must bend the legs first before leaping off the floor; a golfer must swing the club around first. The tactic may also be used with less physical movements, such as a character staring off-screen to predict the appearance of another, or concentrating eyes on an item that a protagonist is about to pick up.


This concept is similar to staging, which is used in theater and film. Its aim is to guide the audience’s eyes and interest apparent what is most important in a scene; Johnston and Thomas described it as “the representation of some idea in such a way that it is absolutely and undeniably clear,” whether that idea is an event, a character, a phrase, or a mood. 

This can be accomplished by a variety of techniques, including the location of a character in the frame, including use of foreground and background, and the perspective and orientation of the camera. The idea behind this method is to stay focused on what is important while eliminating needless information.

Straight ahead action and pose to pose

There are two distinct techniques to the method of painting. Straight ahead action sequences are depicted frame by frame from early part to finish while “pose to pose” means drawing a few main frames and only filling in the gaps later. 

“Straight forward action” produces a more seamless, complex impression of movement which is better for creating believable action scenes. In another hand, maintaining proportions and creating exact, persuasive positions along the way is difficult. “Pose to pose” fits well in dramatic or intense scenes where structure and relationship to the environment are more important. A variation of the two methods is often employed.

Follow through and overlapping action

Follow along and overlapping motion are two closely connected methods that tend to make movement more believable and give the appearance that characters obey physical rules such as the concept of inertia. 

“Move through” means that poorly coupled parts of a body can begin to move once the character has ended, and the parts should continue to move past the stage where the character stopped, only to be “pulled down” into the axis of rotation or show varying degrees of oscillation damping. “Intersecting movement” refers to the ability for various parts of the body to move at different speeds, such as an arm moving at different times.

Slow in and slow out

Genuine structures, such as the human body, plants, and cars, need time to accelerate and decelerate. As a result, in terms of achieving more natural motions, more pictures are drawn at the start and end of an action, producing a slow in and slow out effect. This term stresses the intense poses of the piece. 

To highlight faster action, fewer images are drawn in the center of the animation. This theory extends not only to characters transitioning between two drastic positions, such as running and walking, but also to inanimate, directional movement, such as the tennis racquet in the preceding example.


For greater realism, most natural motion appears to take an arched course, and animation can follow this idea by following inferred “arcs.” This technique can be used to rotate a joint on a moving arm or to move a hurled target around a velocity vector. Mechanical action, on the other hand, usually runs along straight lines.

Arcs appear to flatten out in going forward and expand in turns as an element’s speed increases.

Secondary action

Including secondary events in addition to the main action brings a scenario to life and can serve to sustain the main action. An individual walking may waive their arms or hold them in their pockets at the same time, talk or whistle, or show emotional expressions gestures. The crucial thing to remember about primary actions is that they strengthen, rather than detract from, the actual portion. Then if that’s the case, such acts should be avoided.


The number of sketches or frames for a particular action, which corresponds to the pace of the action on screen, is referred to as timing. In a strictly physical basis, proper timing causes objects to appear to follow physical rules. 

For example, the weight of an object determines how it responds to an impetus, such as a push; a lightweight object would respond quicker than a heavily weighted one. The importance of timing in determining a character’s mood, sentiment, and response cannot be overstated. It may also serve as a means of communicating facets of a character’s personality.


Exaggeration is a useful effect in animation because animated movements that aim for a flawless approximation of reality will seem flat and boring. The degree of exaggeration relies on whether the goal is realism or a specific form, such as a cartoon or the style of a specific individual.  

Disney used the classical concept of exaggeration, which was to hold true to fact when portraying it in a wilder, more dramatic way. Other types of exaggeration include the mystical or unreal, changes in a character’s facial features, or elements in the plot itself. When using exaggeration, it is critical to exercise caution.

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