12 Principles of Animation

Squash and Stretch

The first principle as described in the Disney book ‘Illusion of Life.’ Basically, in real life, only stiff objects remain the same when moving. Objects that are not stiff however tend to lose shape due to the level of elasticity that they contain, but their volume remains at a constant. The famous example used in the Richard William’s Animators Survival Guide.

12 Principles of Animation explained

Richard William’s Bouncy Ball explained

Day and Night- Disney Pixar Short

This is the example that I found that showed these principles best. Day and Night was the Pixar Animation short following Toy Story 3. The short combined 2D and 3D animation was written and directed by Teddy Newton and produced by Kevin Recher. The characters themselves are light in nature, almost floating in movement. The application of the stretch as they walk, before it compresses back shows this movement. It gives them an almost elastic feel, especially when they collide of one and other.


The next principle is Anticipation. Disney realised that audiences needed a structured series of events to follow on screen, or they would struggle to keep up. Animators would therefore draw and anticipation in the lead up to the main action, so audiences would not miss anything.

For example, in the worm rigs that we worked on, the worm would hold the compression pose, as if anticipating the jump ahead. This allows the audience to get to grips on the energy needed to complete the jump. Walt Disney called this process ‘aiming’ and insisted that it be used to strength visual gags.

The scene below from the Winnie the Pooh Movie (2011) shows the anticipation of the character Tiger. He pauses before bursting into song, as if projecting the build up in energy for his big number.



Staging in animation draws the audience to the most important point on the screen. In Disney’s the Illusion of Life,┬áJohnston and Thomas defined it as “the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear.” This effect is maximised by a collection of things- playing of the character in a frame, the use of light and the position/angle of the camera.

In the Walt Disney short ‘Paperman’ (2012) staging is achieved both by lighting and placement. The 2D short is primarily in black and white and was directed by John Karrs and and produced by Kristina Reed. This clip shows the first time the main characters meet on screen. George is positioned on the left hand side, the light highlighting him on the right. As Meg enters the scene she mirrors his position on the right, the lighting the same put not as intense as we are focused on George’s reaction.