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Animation Principles

An Introduction to the 12 Principles of Animation

Devised in the 1930s at a time when many new animators joining the Walt Disney Studio needed to be quickly brought up to standard as production moved to full-length features such as Snow White & Bambi. These required greater consistency in style than the cartoon shorts (which could never achieve more than $15,000 each – Walt gambled that he would get a better return on a feature).

Intended for animators working with pencils on paper, whose drawings would then be traced onto acetate and then colour painted on the back of the cels, the principles hold true for many other media, as shown by these CGI examples.

They were published in the 1978 book


ISBN-10: 0786860707   ISBN-13: 978-0786860708

Several animation principles are clearly apparent within this short example from Preston Blair’s book, Animation. The use of squash and stretch helps give this character his weight. Follow through and overlapping action makes his belly flop under its own inertia as its movement lags behind the main action. Follow through is used for the sheriff’s coat, hat and mustache. Strong anticipation pre-empts the character’s movement of rising to his full height while the principles of solid drawing and appeal are also evident within this sequence.

PDF summary

This introduction is in the process of being written and updated in early 2015 and features some examples and text from the excellent resource at