Animated Video Production

12 Principles of Animation: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Shawn 07.29.2014

Disney’s “Nine Old Men” revolutionized the industry in the 1930’s with their 12 Principles of animation. And even with amazing advances in CGI, rendering, and a host of animation software, the fundamentals of quality animation haven’t changed one iota.

Which is kind of great.

12 Principles of Animation

(Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Frank Thomas)

12 Principles of AnimationThese Disney animators are directly responsible for: Snow White, Dumbo, Bambi, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, The Rescuers, Cinderella, and so many more. They wrote the book on animation – literally.

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s 1981 book The Illusion of Life lays out the 12 principles of animation that you pretty much have to follow. You have no choice. That’s how good this book is. So let’s get to it.

I’ve covered each of the 12 Principles of Animation in their own post, but this article will serve as an index for anyone looking for a comprehensive overview of all 12 principles of animation.

So click the links below, and get started mastering the basics of animation. Or you could just read Richard William’s seminal work, The Animator’s Survival Kit. Yeah. Do that instead. It’s awesome.

The 12 Principles of Animation

1) Squash and Stretch

2) Anticipation

3) Staging

4) Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose (coming soon)

5) Follow Through and Overlapping Action

6) Ease In, Ease Out

7) Arcs

8) Secondary Action

9) Timing

10) Exaggeration

11) Solid Drawing (coming soon)

12) Appeal

In addition to the twelve classic principles, we also think mastering multiplaning and animation smears are essential to quality animated video production.

Thanks for perusing the list. If you have any questions, or just wanna geek out about animation, email us and we’ll be happy to nerd it up and chat perspective, line weight, and even jazz hands.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

Similar Stories