The 12 Principles of Character Animation
as developed at  Disney Studios.

1. Squash and Stretch. (Shape distortion to accentuate movement)

Think of a rubber ball bouncing,  It flattens out, bounces off the ground and resumes it shape.

2. Anticipation. (A reverse movement to accent a forward movement)

 Think of person jumping into the air, they swing their arms behind them, bend their knees and jump.

3. Staging. (The camera viewpoint to best show the action)

Think of a fly being hit with a fly swatter.  Do you view the action from the person swatting? From the fly swatter view?  From the fly's view?

4. Straight-ahead vs. Pose-to-pose action. (Two basic procedures)

5. Follow-through and Overlapping action. (Nothing stops abruptly!)

Think of a batter in baseball, the swing doesn't stop the moment contact is made with the ball.

6. Slow-in and Slow-out. (Smoothing starts and stops by spacing)

Think of car starting and stopping, It does not go from stop to 60km imediately, it has to slowly speed up, the same with stopping.

7. Arcs. (Planning the path of actions)

Try watching someone turn their head from side to side, notice how the head drops slightly at the centre.

8. Secondary Actions. (A head might bounce while the legs walk!)

9. Timing. (Time relations within actions for the illusion of life!)

The more frames the slower the action, the fewer frames the faster.  Find the right balance between allowing your action to register with the audience and boring them.
10. Exaggeration. (Caricature of actions and timing)
Think of Wile E. Coyote, he hangs in the air staring at the audience before he falls to the desert ground below.

11.Solid drawing. (Good drawings make good animations!)


"While a live actor has charisma, the animated drawing has appeal," wrote Thomas & Johnston
Every animated film made today uses these basic principles developed at the Walt Disney studios during the 1930s. They still apply, no matter which technology is used.  They were all printed in the book Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (Abbeville).