ANIMATION Part 1: What is Animation?

By it’s pure definition:



  1. 1. The state of being full of life or vigor; liveliness.
  2. 2. The state of being alive.

More specifically, at it pertains to the discipline of animation… animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images to create the illusion of movement.

Or as I see it, Animation is a science in the study and stylized reproduction of believable motion, dynamics and physics.

Scrolling down on many 3D community pages, one will see, drawings, illustrations, models, digital art…and LOTS of arch-vis renders. While all these things are vital ELEMENTS that can be used in animation. It is not TECHNICALLY animation. Hence my constant encouragement for people to produce more motion-based work. Most people will simply refer to anything “cartoony” as animation…but animation is based on motion and movement ie. Video.

Also, because, most people are not sure what animation is, they wish to enter the field with great expectations of easy work and high pay, only to be hit with the reality that it is quite difficult to produce animation in the first place, let alone get paid for it. Animation is a field that involves the collaboration of many disciplines…yes, drawing (or modeling)  is at the core of this. Much focus is placed on all the other art disciplines involved in animation, such as, illustration or 3D modeling…yet, there are very few actual animators. It takes a whole different skill-set to take a drawing and manipulate it to create a convincing animated character. The knowledge of movement and timing in terms of numbers of keyframes needed to complete a character’s action, is highly lacking.

The basic principles of animation (of which there are twelve) are not even in the subject of discussions amongst persons who call themselves animators or wish to do animation. Now, in no way do I wish to sit on a high horse and knock anyone down. I am simply stating a fact and an observation in the hope that it will give people a well-needed wake-up call. Animation is much broader than puppeting a few body parts on a character and moving them rigidly around, or using the puppet-pin tool in after effects on a drawing you did. While these techniques are viable, it takes the knowledge and application of the principles of animation to actually make them work in a way that makes the audience want to watch. I have no qualms with first timers attempting simple techniques, everyone starts somewhere… however, I want to see that in future projects, people make a gallant effort to move beyond the initial test and improve the quality of motion. THIS is what will make you a cut above the rest. Improvement comes by weeks, months, even years of animation practice.

So here are a couple of things to consider:

A: Your software package of choice for creating animation ( 2D or 3D)

B: Using these tools to then practice the Twelve principles of animation which are:

1. Squash and Stretch
2. Anticipation
3. Staging
4. Straight ahead action and pose to pose
5. Follow through and overlapping action
6. Slow in and Slow Out
7. Arcs
8. Secondary Action
9. Timing
10. Exaggeration
11. Solid Drawing
12. Appeal

The following link breaks down what each of these principles involve


Here is another good read by

Alejandro L. Garcia
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy ß——-See I told you it’s science
San Jose State University

SIGGRAPH 2012 Course Notes


Now stay tuned for part two…In which I address another issue brought up by the same article.

In the mean while….GO FORTH AND ANIMATE!

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