12 Principles of Animation with After Effects

Animation for Beginners with After Effects


Since Disney’s hand-drawn animation, nothing has changed when it comes to the basic principles of animation. The success of Disney was not just in the design of Mickey and friends but in the way the characters were put into motion.

At Saturday’s Ycademy Seminar we will explain the

12 Principles of Animation

and see, how to apply them with After Effects.

1. Slow in – slow out

Acceleration and deceleration is created with Easy Ease in and out functions is AE. The effect creates fluid motion.

2. Anticipation

Anticipation designs the action leading to the actual movement, like the backwards swing before hitting a ball with a golf club. Anticipation prepares the viewer for the action which will occur. Surprise actions can be more effective without anticipation.

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3. Squash and Stretch

Squashing and stretching blows life into a volume. The rule is, not to change the volume while designing the effect: a vertical squash goes with a horizontal stretch.

4. Arc

Objects tend to move along an arc, rather than along straight lines. In After Effects we animate along a path.

5. Straight Ahead Action vs. Pose to Pose

Straight Ahead Action refers to drawing frame by frame, while Pose to Pose refers to designing first the key-poses and then filling in the frames in-between, hence the terms of “keyframe” and “tweening”.”

6. Staging

Staging refers to the act of drawing the audiences attention to important actions or events in the movie. It has to do with camera positioning and handling and composition.

7. Exaggeration

Well placed exaggeration can make movements more interesting.

8. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

Follow Through refers to the motion of objects after the action while Overlapping Action means that an action does not have to stop when or before another starts.

9. Secondary Action

Secondary action makes the principal action more interesting. While the principal action may be a man walking, secondary actions could be arm swinging, movements with the head and so on.

10. Timing

Speed of action impacts on perception and emotion created. One of the most difficult principles to master, often expressed with the distance between two keyframes in After Effects.

11. Solid Drawing

This does not really refer to After Effects but to other programs you may use to draw objects, such as Photoshop.

12. Appeal

Objects need to be appealing to draw in the audience. This is not only true for animated characters. The best animation is not eye-catching if what you show is not designed in an appealing or charismatic way.

After Effects is not just about motion, it’s about expression, design, appeal and emotion created. An animation designer is therefore a multi-tasker and the best are multi-talents!