All We Need to Know about Disney’s 12 Principles of Animation 

Disney’s 12 principles of animation are an unexplainable wonder. Although the principle was introduced in 1981, it remains one of the backbones for the animation industry until now. It makes sense though, considering how it explains the smallest detail through such simple words that can easily be understood. Here, we will break down Disney’s 12 principles of animation in even simpler words so that those non-animators can understand the terms properly.  

1. Squash and stretch

The name might sound odd, but it is not without reason. The name comes from the stretch ball and follows its principles. When a stretch ball is stretched, it will move up and down in a fast motion then slowly. Although the movements accelerate then slow down, the volume of the ball remains the same. From the ball’s volume, we can see that consistency is what matters here. 

The same goes for animation. Consistency is regarded as one of the most pivotal aspects of animation. As animators, we are demanded to keep the object consistent no matter what the kind of situation is. 

2. Anticipation

As the name stated, anticipation is something the audience expects from us. These principles require us to create animation in such a way that the audience will be able to anticipate the next movement from our character.

3. Staging

Staging requires us to “stage” the surrounding for the character. Staging means that we are required to keep the motion to the characters only, while the animation surrounding the character should be minimum. The rule is necessary so that the audience can focus on the object when the animation happens. 

4. Straight and pose-to-pose drawing

Straight pose and pose to pose drawing are two kinds of techniques that have the same purpose. The straight pose is done by animating every frame of the character, creating a fluid and realistic movement.  

Meanwhile, pose-to-pose drawing requires us to jump from one frame to another. First, we draw the beginning frame, ending frame, and several keyframes in-between. Once we are satisfied with them, we go back and complete the rest of the frames. This technique gives you more freedom on the frames, as it allows you to experiment more. 

5. Pay attention to the overlapping action of each part

This one is extremely important, this is what makes the animation look realistic. Let’s have a running person as the object. When the person stops running, does every part of the body stop at the same time? The answer is no, they do not. Certain parts such as hair move differently from other parts of the body, and we as animators need to pay attention to those small details.

6. Slow movement at the beginning and in the end

This logic works the same as the movement of a car. When a car starts, it does not start with speed right away. Instead, it moves slowly then gains its speed as the car goes further and further away. The same happens when the car slows down, as it will slowly lose its speed and becomes slower. 

This logic should always be remembered so that the animation sounds believable. To execute the logic, the object will need lots of keyframes at the beginning and the end of the action sequence. If you can pull this off perfectly, then the object will look more alive. 

7. Arc

The law of physics is a must when it comes to animation. To be according to the law of physics, animators tend to have their objects more in an arc. So if the character is throwing a ball, the ball would move-in according to the law of physics. 

8. Secondary action of the character

Secondary actions are the actions that accompany the main action, making the concept look more believable. Let us use the concept of walking again. When an object is walking, it does not just move its body parts only. Other movements, such as the way the hair bounces, the eye blinks, or even yawning; are secondary actions that help your character look alive.

9. Timing

Timing is pivotal as it can affect how the animation of the object would look like. The timing of the object should be the same or close enough with the objects in real life. Creating an animation that does not match the object in real life will make the animation look awkward and illogical. 

10. Exaggeration is a must!

Calm down, because it does not mean that we always need to exaggerate. What we mean by exaggeration is adding an exaggerated touch to the animation, as it can give the object more dynamic. Having exaggerated elements will also make the object look less boring and static.

11. Solid drawing

Solid drawing is one of the most easily forgettable techniques, as people tend not to realize that sometimes their drawing is not a solid drawing but only a side of their object. As animators, we need to remember what solid drawing is, along with techniques for light, shadows, movement, and many more. 

If your animation has a unique perspective (such as being wonky), you will need to remain consistent until the end. Else, the logic will fall apart. 

12. Be as appealing as possible!

The most important aspect of animation is its appeal. No matter how the animation is, it needs to attract the audience’s attention. There are many ways to make them appealing. Giving them personality, having solid drawings, and having an easy design are some of the ways to make the animation appealing. Explore your world, and find out how they can be attractive to your audience! 

Learn them, conquer them 

Disney’s 12 principles of animation are the basic and logical principles all of us have known but weren’t aware of. If you are new to the animation world, learning them might be awkward at first. However, once you are accustomed to them, the principles will be a breeze for you.