Animation Principles

To bring your characters to life convincingly, it helps to understand the core fundamentals, twelve ‘Principles of Animation’ that experienced Disney animators described for the many new animators brought in to help on the full-length films such as Snow White and Bambi.

Alan Becker is the author of the infamous Animator vs Animation series – see his walk cycle tutorial on our walk cycles page.

see also:

makeuseof article on disney’s 12 principles of animation

The Twelve Principles of Animation were devised in the 1930s when the Walt Disney Studio needed to quickly bring up new animators up to standard when production moved from quirky shorts to full-length features such as Snow White & Bambi. These required lots of animators working with a 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 full-length movie released in the cinema).

They were published in the 1978 book ‘The Illusion of Life’


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

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

See the process of Disney animation in the 1930s in this documentary: