The 12 Principles of Animation is a group of key teachings for the professional animator. The list has served Disney animators since the 1930s and was outlined by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in the 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. Many of these foundational ideas are still utilized in classrooms and studios around the world almost 40 years later. While technology and industries have evolved with new and different ideas being integrated into animation, the principles can still be seen in movies and web design today.
So what are the 12 Principles of Animation?
- Squash and stretch
- Straight-ahead action and pose-to-pose
- Follow through and overlapping action
- Slow in and slow out
- Secondary action
- Solid drawing
We caught up with Animation faculty Alex Salsberg to get his take on the Principles and if they play a role in the classes he teaches and his own animation work.
What’s your take on the 12 Principles?
While I don’t think they’re the only important things to learn about animation, I think the 12 Principles are a really good launching point, especially for students studying to be professional animators. I think they’ve stuck around for a reason, even if that reason is sometimes to “learn the rules before you break them.”