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The twelve principles of animation is a group of tips for artists to be the best in their line of work. Here are some rules that are retrieved from the experience and knowledge of two animators. Gain what others experience over time sooner by learning these rules.

Where do they come from?

The twelve principles of animations were introduced by two animators at Disney, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in 1981. Animators at Disney have been subscribing to these principles ever since. It’s been about a century since these principles of animation are used by everyone in Disney’s animated projects.

Squash And Stretch

Squash and Stretch is practically the only way to show the changes in the facial and bodies of the characters to express their thoughts and feelings.

It is based on the principles of animation that almost anything seen in an animated film has a certain flexibility, and this is why they have different movements and changes


In general, that is a preparation for the action that is going to happen. One of the greatest animators in the world, “BILL TYTLA” says this: There are only 3 things in animation.

  • Anticipation
  • Action
  • Reaction

For example, when you want to hit with a hammer, first you raise the hammer to save the required energy and then hit. When you want to animate, you need to use Anticipation to make it clear and palpable for the spectator.


watch the video to find out more.


One of the most important principles of animation

Staging means how to convey images and movements to the audience. Directing the spectator’s eyes to a certain point of the shot is the most important goal of this section.


If a subject is in the middle of the frame, the spectator will definitely look at the middle, but if the subjects are constantly in the middle of the frame, your work will be monotonous.


For example, here the attention is on everything in this lady’s hand.

Straight ahead action and pose to pose

In straight-ahead animation, designs start from the first frame and are designed until the end of the movement. In this technique, the state, size, volume and characteristics of the animated subject will change.

In Pose to Pose animation, these characteristics are well preserved and controllable. First, the key states of the character or subject are designed in keyframes and then they are executed by middle designs.

The 12 principles of animation says that the best way to animate is a combination of these two methods.

Follow Through and Overlapping

Follow through refers to a movement that is in one direction until an opposing force enters it and stops it from moving. Examples are the movements of the characters’ clothes and hair.


In Overlapping Action, different parts of the main body of the character or subject are moving and stopping. This is the movement of different parts of the body at different times.

Ease in, Ease out

Many designs can move faster or slower. Ease in is when a movement starts more quickly and it has deceleration at the end. 


Ease out is exactly the opposite. The animation starts slow and ends fast.


You can use the curve editor or graph editor to do this in 3D animations.


Keep in mind all subjects, especially the human body, move along curves. For example when the character opens his hand or jumps all the movements in the space are according to the curve, however mechanical subjects move on a straight path.

According to the 12 principles of animation without arcs, your animation would be stiff and mechanical.

Arcs in walking and pointing.

Secondary Action

Secondary movements are added to the main or first movement and make it more complete. For example, the slow opening of the hand, when it wants to pick up an object.


For example, adding subtle foot taps to a character that is waiting, enhances the mood of the idea being told.


Perspiring is the secondary action of standing under the sun(primary action).


The number of designs used in the movement to determine its duration is called timing. A scene that has fast and slow movements will be more beautiful. It is so important to know that timing must be based on logic, and all the movements don’t happen at the same time.


As you can see this picture shows the number of designs used in a fast or slow movement.


Pushing the movement further and making it more appealing and entertaining for the audience.

By exaggerating a character’s movements, you essentially add more life and meaning to the character’s actions.

This although seems unrealistic but can actually make actions more convincing.


We can see many exaggerations in Tom and Jerry’s animation.

Solid drawing

The ability and process of drawing whatever you can see in the world around you on paper. You should make a believable 2D character by adding height, depth, and weight. It is all about making sure that animated forms feel like they’re in three-dimensional space.


By adding weight, we made it more realistic.


The animation character must be attractive. Beauty, simplicity and attractiveness are the main points in designing.

Appealing animation is not limited to the subject matter, what matters is just the way of your presentation. Generally, the character must be enjoyable and interesting to look at. Here you can see difference between appealing and unappealing character.

Watch the one of our videos and analyze all 12 principles of animations in it.

Tell us about your review of our videos. This is the best of worlds so test yourself.


Although these mentioned principles and rules require study in detail and practice, we tried to give you short and useful knowledge. Try to implement them and you’ll be sure to create stunning animation. Remember that these rules are not the only important ones but they are great launching points.

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