Traditional Principles of Animation

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Many people assume that if you build a good looking model, it will simply come to life all by itself. Unfortunately, this couldn't be farther from the truth. A poorly constructed animation will typically suffer from objects moving in an awkward and unrealistic manner. The motion you create in your scene is an extremely important element of your overall product. You must design and execute your movement with as much care as you give to designing the objects in your animation.

An analysis of unsuccessful animation usually reveals too little motion or motion that is not life-like. So how does motion become part of your overall design? Planning must begin immediately -- even before you begin to build your scene.

In this book you'll find a list of principles that the traditional masters of animation have discovered, learned and applied in their journey to learn their art. Applicable to both traditional 2D animation and computer 3D animation, every quality animated film makes use of at least a few of these basic principles developed at the Walt Disney studios during the 1930s. Believable movement starts with applying these concepts. As you continue to gain experience and knowledge, you'll come to realize just how important these techniques are. Every animator is expected to not just know these principles, but to apply them to their work. Memorizing them isn't enough. Knowing when, where and how to apply them is what's important.

The Traditional Principles of Animation[edit]

  1. Anticipation
  2. Squash and stretch
  3. Overlapping action
  4. Follow-through
  5. Staging
  6. Exaggeration
  7. Secondary action
  8. Other Important Elements of Realistic Motion