The 12 Principles of Animation

The following 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the ‘old men’ of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s. 

YouTube. (2017). 1. Squash & Stretch – 12 Principles of Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

In the link above, you can see the videos that Alec showed us in class over the last few weeks. They are brilliant. Each step is thoughtfully explained with great examples, and have really made me think in a different way about how I animate.

The 12 Principles

  1. Squash and Stretch-Giving weight and volume to an object
  2. Anticipation-Perpares the audience for the action, adds realism
  3. Staging-Gets across attitude, mood, tone and can add a comic effect. Camera angles, lighting and organisation of actions.
  4. Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose Animation-Pose to pose plans out the animation, and then fills in the blanks. Straight ahead is better for natural animation like fire and dust clouds, as it doesn’t have solid beginning and end poses.
  5. Follow through and Overlapping Motion-When the main body of the character stops all other parts continue to catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, coat tails or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail (these follow the path of action). Nothing stops all at once. This is follow through. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his clothes or hair continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his clothes in the new direction. “DRAG,” in animation, for example, would be when Goofy starts to run, but his head, ears, upper body, and clothes do not keep up with his legs. In features, this type of action is done more subtly.
  6. Slow-In and Slow-Out- More drawings at the beginning and end of an action than in the middle.
  7. Arcs-Most actions follow a circular or arc like path.
  8. Secondary Action-Actions that add to and enrich the main action; often adding character and meaning to a scene.
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid Drawing
  12. Appeal




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