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Animation Mentor and the 12 Basic Principles of Animation

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Take a deep dive into the Twelve Basic Principles of Animation in our 12-part series. Get the basics, check out examples, and learn essential tips and tricks for becoming a better animator. Gain some knowledge from our amazing mentors, aka professional animators who are out in the field!


The Twelve Basic Principles of Animation are essential “guidelines” created by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas for their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. We put guidelines in quotes because, in a way, all rules are made to be broken, but in order to break those rules you first have to master them!

To master to the Twelve Principles as an animator, you’re essentially learning how to think about your character as adhering to the rules of physics while also considering equally important topics like the character’s appeal and the timing of your shot.

So, how do you go about using your knowledge of these principles in your work? How on earth can you keep track of all of these, and what’s the best way to approach them once you know them?

That’s where we come in! Over the next month, we’ll be sharing the ins and outs of each principle covered by one of our very own mentors—complete with examples and advice on how to best approach it to become a better animator. We can’t wait to dive in!

We’ll be sure to add a link to each principle right here as they come out, so bookmark this post and check back often! Also, be sure to ask your questions in the comments 😀

Principle 1: Squash and Stretch by Chris Hurtt

Principle 2: Anticipation by Chris Hurtt

Principle 3: Staging by John Nguyen

Principle 4: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose by Leigh Rens

Principle 5: Follow-through and Overlapping Action by Drew Adams

Principle 6: Slow In and Slow Out by Kevin Koch

Principle 7: Arc by Anthony Wong

Principle 8: Secondary Action by Kevin Koch

Principle 9: Timing by Dave Burgess

Principle 10: Exaggeration by Dana Boadway Masson

Principle 11: Solid Drawing by Jay Jackson

Principle 12: Appeal by Ethan Hurd


Want to learn from professional animators?

Start your animation journey by learning with professional animators from a variety of studios and career paths! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

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