The 12 principles of animation, established in 1941, have now become widely adopted as the theoretical foundation for all artists working in the animation industry. Though you may be familiar with these guiding principles, a few talented animators at Titmouse put together an instructional video to help contextualize these techniques.
The first method explored is Anticipation. Anticipation prepares the viewer for the main action. If you were to jump, for example, the anticipatory action is the bending of the knees. This helps the action look much more natural. Next is the Squash and Stretch, which provides the illusion of elasticity, gravity, mass, and flexibility. Upon impact with the ground, the figure smooshes and stretches, the distortion providing a life-like quality.
Subsequent methods of retaining the illusion of realism in animation are Follow Throughs, the Overshoot and Scuttle, and Trace-backing. The former two principles see the character throwing their body into action. In the video, when the arm and the buttocks stop moving, the forward momentum causes different parts of the body to stop at different rates. Thus, the hand sort of goes limp and retracts and the butt essentially becomes its own autonomous organism, jiggling independently of the rest of the body.
The Traceback is the act of tracing multiple versions of the same drawing to provide the illusion of movement. Seen here, a figure appears to walk into an infinite terra-cotta abyss. Then, of course, there is Hitting the Stump, which imitates the very real and often ignored phenomenon of cork-screwing. Mag Womblin’ conceptualizes the reality of manically gallivanting through the laser void, morphing slowly but surely into a lecherous bunny. For this effect to really land, read Mac McMac’s Theory of Womble.
Catch and Release ensures that your character centipedes in accordance with human movement. And Don’t Doing Bad Draw is crucial for making your subject feel shame.
The Seven Arms of Shandoo, the Hawaiian Shirt, Slippin’ the Chicken, and The Walter Disney will all help with gribble prippems, and if you’re not implementing Don’t Moon the Werewolf, then you may as well light a million dollars on fire, because you’re not putting your animation degree to use. This is a Dooooo, This is What My Dad Looks Like, and Lord of Shapes are incredibly effective in giving your animation that snarg quality. And of course, last but never least – The Paper Airplane. If you want your animation to speak to the audience on an emotional level, then don’t hesitate to contort your character into a gorgeous paper airplane with bulging eyes and strong, muscular biceps, because there is literally nothing more resonant to the human condition.
Titmouse is an independent, award-winning cartoon clone factory committed to sizzling your brain and melting your eyeballs. Founded by the husband-wife duo, Chris and Shannon Prynoski, Titmouse has offices in LA, NY, Vancouver, and everywhere that books are sold.