The 12 basic principles of animation

A charming short film and series of animated gifs by motion artist Cento Lodigiani bring to life the 12 basic principles of animation as set down by Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s

A charming short film and series of animated gifs by motion artist Cento Lodigiani bring to life the 12 basic principles of animation as maintained by Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s…

In their 1981 book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston looked at the 12 core principles which the US studio adhered to as it sought to produce more realistic work in the 1930s.

The list included ensuring ‘squash and stretch’ and ‘follow through and overlapping’ – both of which give a sense of weight to a drawn object moving through space.

‘Squash & stretch’

‘Follow through & overlapping’ – when the main part of a body stops, all the other areas catch up with it

‘Timing’ was also seen as a vital aspect of a character’s movement, as was a sense of both its own ‘appeal’ (the ‘charisma’ of the action) and ‘exaggeration’ (a wilder version of reality).

‘Timing’ – maintains the appearance of an object adhering to the laws of physics

“The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the ‘old men’ of Walt Disney Studios,” writes Lodigiani. “Of course they weren’t old men at the time, but young men who were at the forefront of exciting discoveries that were contributing to the development of a new art form.

“These principles came as a result of reflection about their practice and through Disney’s desire to use animation to express character and personality. This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to simple shapes. Like a cube.”

Lodigiani’s project takes the form of 12 animated gifs, which can be seen in full at the12principles.tumblr.com and a short film (below) which brings them altogether. More of Lodigiani’s work is at centolodigiani.com.

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