Principles of Animation- The 12 Basic Principles of Animation Disney They were developed during the 1930s by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas to create more physically and emotionally realistic characters.

Many professionals refer to these 12 keys as ” the animation Bible.” Although they emerged many years ago, some principles have been transmitted and form the basis of the world of animation.

The 12 Basic Principles of Animation

Compression and Extension

The technique gives the sensation of flexibility to the object, from a bouncing ball to the stretching of a figure or character to produce a comic effect.


With this technique, the animator tries to anticipate an action that will occur. For example, a character’s look outside the scene or a jump expecting it by bending the knees. This technique intends to keep the audience expectant before a new event.


It is based on the presentation of an idea clearly, with the aim that the viewer is not distract and focuses on what is truly important in the scene. The use of lights and shadows, the expressions and position of the characters involved, etc., some of the techniques used.

Direct Animation and Pose to Pose

The direct animation is based on directly drawing a scene frame by frame from start to finish, creating a smoother, more realistic scene. For its part, the pose-to-pose technique is based on removing the key poses of the characters and then completing them with the secondary poses. It saves work but makes creating compelling poses more challenging. Therefore, these two techniques are usually combined.

Complementary Action and Overlapping Action

principles of animation

Both techniques make the movement more realistic.

The complementary action base on elements outside the character’s body that must continue to move independently even if the character stops moving.

The superimposed action refers to the different elements of the character’s body that must move in different ways. The movement of an arm is not the same as that of hair or clothing, for example.

Speed ​​Up and Slow Down

It apply to both characters and objects to create naturalness. It carries out by creating more movement at the beginning of the action and the end. In this way, the critical pose gives prominence.


This technique base on natural movements following a circular path. So any activity will have to have a specific curvature to give the feeling of realism. However, there are strong movements, as an exception to this principle, since these usually occur in straight lines.

Secondary Action

It consists of adding secondary actions to the main action. Thus giving more emphasis to the main activity that is more enriched.


It has to do with the speed of the action in a scene that adjusts with the number of added frames. This technique is essential to create humor and emotions in character.


A resource widely used in animated films, but you have to be very careful not to ruin the scene’s integrity. A harmony between the elements must maintain and the exaggeration technique used with the specific objective we set ourselves.

Solid Drawing

Creation of the three-dimensional space of the drawings to be seen in 3D. For this, the volume and weight of the character must take into account so as not to fall into symmetry.


When creating a character, the public must connect with him. It does not matter if he is from the good or evil side, handsome or ugly. The important thing is that it is captivating for the viewer. In that sense, the character’s traits will be fundamental.

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