Animated Video Production

12 Principles of Animation: Arcs

David 06.19.2013

Life doesn’t move in straight lines.

12 principles of animation arcsBirds swoop, worms wriggle, snakes slither, deer prance, grass sways, and people walk. Every action, from raising an eyebrow to running a marathon moves in arcs.

That’s why “arcs” is one of the 12 Basic Principles of Animation. (P.S. they’re everywhere).

But I don’t walk in arcs,” you say.

Yeah you do.  And what’s more, your arcs go in all kinds of directions.

Up and Down

walk cycle principles of animation arcs

Side to Side

12 principles of animation arcs walk cycle

Like a Pendulum

12 principles of animation arcs walk cycle

Arcs operate along a curved trajectory, and when done properly, add the intangible illusion of life to an animated object in action. The speed and timing of the arc is also a huge factor the overall energy of the animation.

The faster an action, the flatter the arc becomes. Sometimes the arc is so fast that it blurs the arc beyond recognition in what’s called an animation smear. The opposite is also true. Head movements for instance generally have slow gradual arcs.

Unless there’s emotion – like surprise – attached to the head movement. The speed of the arc is what makes the action seem dramatic. (Whew that’s a fast arc!)

Life doesn’t move in straight lines. Master the richness and speed of arcs – one of the most important of the 12 principles of animation – and breathe life and emotion into any animated video.

Press a few arcs into your keyboard and shoot us a swoopy email to talk more about your video’s trajectory.


Similar Stories