Animation: Important Principles You Should Know About

people working

Animation is a visual art form that holds the world at ransom but relies on audiences viewing moving images. Animation first arose in the form of illustrated backdrops to theatrical performances but has since developed into a proper art form that can now be seen in everything from feature films to online videos. Computer-generated imagery, or CGI, is now mostly used to make animations and has now taken over from the hand-drawn animation of earlier days.

Over time, several principles have been set in stone when it comes to animation. There are 12 principles in total, which all contribute to the very core of nice animation work. It’s a great foundation overall.

Here are some of the key principles of animation that should know about:


WHY IT MATTERS: All movements that are directly affected by gravity tend to follow an arcing path. This is rooted in physics’ laws. It applies to plenty of movements, so the principle has to be kept in mind during the process of animation.

The act of throwing a ball, for example, follows a curve so that the momentum needed by the ball can be gained. The ball will arc in the air then end up with several smaller arcs. This principle is crucial for convincing movements to be created.


WHY IT MATTERS: As the main character, it would make sense if your hero was the only one who did any significant acting in the scene. However, you could have a range of character reactions and actions to support your hero and add to the scene, like gestures and movements that indicate some agitation. 

These secondary actions need not dominate the scene in order to be convincing. In fact, they should fit well with the main action. For example, there could be actions that show facial expressions and body language that reflect the emotional state of your hero.


WHY IT MATTERS: A technique called slow in slow out is used in animation to gradually build up momentum during a movement, then gradually disperse it during the same movement to keep the movement realistic and convincing. A good example of this is showing more frames of an object at the start and end of a movement than during the movement.


WHY IT MATTERS: Timing is vital to successful animation. When working on an animated short, you need to think about the timing and pacing of your story. If the story and dialogue are poorly timed, then the animation will be difficult to follow and enjoy.

On-screen elements have to have well-timed actions. Characters should be able to react naturally, in real time with stimuli. Take an insulted character, for example; they shouldn’t wait too long to react. Otherwise, the audience will end up pretty heavily disconnected.


Animation is an art form that has changed both entertainment and art overall. Over time, a dozen principles have come about that all artists use as a guide. Some of them include timing, arcing and what’s known as slow in & slow out.

Looking for an animated explainer video service? Get in touch with Epic Video Factory today! We customize animated explainer videos for companies in Canada and the United States.

Leave a Reply