Motion design increases engagement and boosts marketing and storytelling efforts.
In 1981, two top Disney animators wrote what many consider to be the bible of animation, “The Illusion of Life”. Compiling the expertise of Disney animators since the 1930s, this book set out to give animators a solid foundation for their craft, addressing areas like replicating real-world physics, emotional expression and character design. At the heart of the book are the “12 basic principles of animation.” While this list of best practices was intended for traditional animation, most still hold up just as strong today
This is one of the most important principle. It gives the object a sense of weight and flexibility. The object becomes ‘Organic’ and in motion design, it also emphasizes the path of the motion. A sense of speed can also be achieved by stretching the object.
Think of a how a rubber ball squashes when hitting the ground versus how a bowling ball doesn’t.
In real life, people and things don’t just move suddenly and without warning. Before someone throws a punch, they wind up their arm; before they jump, they bend their knees.
If an animation happens without an anticipating action, it may seem too sudden and jarring—in other words, fake.
Staging is simply the arrangement or placement of an object to draw the audience’s attention. It’s important to guide the viewer’s eye and draw attention to what’s important within the scene.
This principle is borrowed from theater: staging is where the actors are placed on stage for maximum effect. From the audience’s perspective, actions in the front of the stage seem more significant than those in the back.
When the straight ahead technique is used, each action is drawn frame-by-frame from start to finish. It’s good for animation which is unpredictable, fluid and realistic movements.
With the pose to pose approach, you draw the beginning and the end of each pose, and a few key frames in-between. Then you go back to fill in the rest. Most computerized animation uses the pose-to-pose approach since the computer generates the “inbetweens.”
These refer to two different, but related, principles for capturing realism. “Follow through” deals with inertia, and the concept that when a body in motion stops movement, some parts continue to follow through. “Overlapping action” refers to how different parts of an object move at different rates—when we walk, our left side and our right side do their own things and are rarely in perfect sync.
Slow In and Slow Out illustrates the tendency of things to come to rest, or to start moving, in a progressive way. Think about how a car starts up and stops. It will start moving slowly, before gaining momentum and speeding up. The reverse will happen when the car stops. In animation, this illusion is attained by adding more frames at the beginning and end of an action.
In an attempt to create more natural movement, motion should be in an arc trajectory. Most objects in the real world tend to move in arcs. Creating motion along arc trajectories may seem obvious, but if forgotten, the animation will seem slightly “off.”
When part of an object moves, usually other parts move as well. When you walk down the street, you don’t keep your head and eyes fixed directly ahead; you look around, nod, blink, etc. These secondary actions can make the animation seem more lifelike.
Adding frames slows it down, removing them speeds it up. Animators are particularly conscious of this as a way to communicate things like weight, agility or even personality in the case of facial expressions. Keep the timing or real objects in mind.
Animation allows artists to exaggerate real life for effect. Using exaggeration helps get the exact amount of personality and action you want.
Drawing its name from solid geometry, solid drawing means accounting for three dimensional space. Especially when dealing with 2D variants of animation, it can be easy to forget about all three dimensions. In particular, The Illusion of Life warns against creating characters whose left and right sides are identical. Such oversights can dispel the immersion.
Subjects of animation should have an appeal to make them worth watching. It could be something basic like a bright color, or something more creative like wide Anime eyes. The point is that it should look interesting and unique to make it worthwhile.