The 9th and 10th Principles… Timing and Exaggeration

A long time waiting this one. You may remember a test animatic of the officer and the vandal.

I got the flash version completed so now I can see how the two compare.

I was very pleased with how the weight of the hammer was translated. If you didn’t notice how it was done, there is a subtle screen shake whenever the hammer comes into contact with the floor.
I would’ve liked more exaggerated movement from the Vandal and more so when the officer is hit. The initial idea was that the Vandal would leap into the hammer smash, with the officer hopping up and down and holding his injured foot. With the leaping I had also planned a quick dynamic cut showing a close up of the Vandal in action, at the moment I feel it’s a bit too “Stage left/stage right”. Ultimately, I had a few projects on the go and I wanted to get this one out as quick as possible, now I’ve more time, I might come back to it and see about making these changes.
The speed at which the project was finished was pretty quick considering the animation process, but some corners were cut as a result, leaving me with an animation which may not be to the standard I might’ve liked it at.
With this in mind, I might have to consider the first release of any future projects as first Drafts, there is always a way to improve the initial design and I don’t usually see it until I’ve finished.

The 9th and 10th Principles… Timing and Exaggeration

Principles of Animation: 9 Timing, 10 Exaggeration

10. Timing

In The Illusionist, the wild motion of the singer in the band The Britoons seems more dynamic as it contrasts with the limited movement of his bandmates

Timing is not exactly a rule, but it is the most important aspect of animation and is what sets it apart from other drawn art forms. So much of animation is about timing. Messages or feelings that cannot be portrayed by a still picture can be communicated with the addition of timing.

One classic example that you see not only in film but also in real life is the dramatic pause. Think of when somebody whispers a secret to a friend. There’s a moment, just before they spill the beans, when they hesitate, looking around to make sure no one’s listening. This moment makes the anticipation of the secret greater. Exaggerating a dramatic pause can make an event in your animation funnier, more poignant or more intense.


2. Exaggeration

The man in the first image is drawn from a low angle, exaggerating his feet. His smoking hand appears less important as it on his far side. The second figure is drawn from above and his feet are further from the viewer. The smoking is much more noticeable because it is closer to the viewer

Exaggeration is a method of emphasising something to increase its significance or draw attention to it. In animation, we use it to emphasise whatever key idea or feeling you wish to portray.

For example, imagine you create a character who is smoking a cigarette while dancing. The action to exaggerate is the one most relevant to the scene. If the animation’s purpose is to illustrate the joys of dancing, it is the dancing that should be exaggerated. If, however, you want to focus on the fact that the character is smoking (perhaps it’s an anti-smoking ad), you would make him smoke in a very ostentatious way, with his feet making only tiny movements. By exaggerating the right elements, you can guide the viewers’ eyes and give them the message you wish to convey.

Using our bouncing ball example again, if we squashed the ball by the correct amount, the animation would probably look a little weak. You would hardly see the squash at all because it would be too slight and would happen too quickly. Exaggerating the amount of squash and stretch, and the pause when it touches the ground, will make the animation more dynamic.

To sum up, good use of exaggeration can make an animation come to life. To make it really work, choose the most important element of the scene, and apply exaggeration only to that. Think carefully about the different elements that can have exaggeration applied to them: movement, facial expressions, squash and stretch, bounce and timing. By exaggerating one of these elements, you can draw the viewer’s attention and make sure nothing is missed.

(Taken from


Really moving away from the realistic dynamic that I prefer, and I’m going for a real cartoony stretch this time around. I’m thinking of a child like character sneaking up on a stuffed shirt (poshy mc-poshington). The child will reach into his pocket and pull out a giant mallet, wind up a swing and hit poshy on the foot. Poshy will leap into the air, tongue and eyes bulging, YAOWCH! That’s what I’m hoping for anyway.

Principles of Animation: 9 Timing, 10 Exaggeration

The 5th, 6th and 7th Principles

space hopper girl sketch (Initial design sketches)

(Testing string movement and seeing if it can be applied to hair movement.)

5th – Follow through and Overlapping Action, two separate sets of movement on the same thing, such as long coat on a running man.

6th – Slow In and Slow Out, the acceleration and deceleration of motion in actions.

7th –  Arcs/Parabolas of Motion, thrown objects don’t move in a perfect semi-circle trajectory. They usually have the sharpest turn at the peak of the throw.

I must show an example of these principles with a character and method of movement picked at random;

“A little girl with a medium length pony tail, riding a space hopper.”

The main focus here is animation, not the rendering so it doesn’t have to be perfectly drawn. My first try of the space hopper, I used key framing to get it down. Then I added in the tweens…

Space hopper1

The movement is a bit slow, but this is why we key frame so I can see this sort of thing…

Space hopper2The second attempt is a bit smoother, but the bounce/squash/stretch needs to be exaggerated more.

Space hopper3The jump is more exaggerated, however, Gareth pointed out that the mass is changing with the squash and stretch. I forgot to consider, when something stretches, it would elongate rather than stay the same width, as well as with squashing, as it flattens it would get wider.

Though I corrected this, I saved straight over it when I went to draft the pony tail.

Space hopper4

Far from finished, but I believe the movement is down.

The 5th, 6th and 7th Principles

The 4th Principle of Animation

As far as I understand, the 4th Principle demonstrates what animating technique you will use in the creation process. There are two to be sure;

1: Frame by frame/Straight Ahead animation. This particular technique has the animator create his scene one frame at a time, with no forward planning. The effect achieved is usually more natural and better paced so it’s better used for animating random effects like explosions or fire. It’s easily done when working on your own, however, sometimes the scale or shape of certain objects can become distorted, it is also difficult to amend mistakes that you notice later on. Don’t expect to get much work done with a team however, as you can’t telegraph what you want to happen, so everyone else will just have to stand around and wait for you to finish.Frame by frame exampleIt quick example I made in Paint showing the basic procedure. Note how the size of the running man has changed somewhat.

2: Key Framed/Pose to Pose animation. This method involves only drawing your character at significant poses and leaving a certain number of frames between each key frame. It’s great if you are working with a team of people. You can draw up the initial Key Frames, and then delegate the inbetween frames to the rest of your team getting a lot of the work done much quicker. Drawbacks however, can give the animation a mechanical appearance, making it seem devoid of that spontaneity that can be easily gained in frame to frame. Also, if the inbetweening isn’t done correctly, then the keyframes can seem to “jump”. Which brings us to forward planning, you HAVE to plan out your actions when you’re key framing. You have to know just how many frames should go between each pose. So for instance, if a man is moving from a crouched position to a standing one, he may need about 15 frames if he’s doing it at normal speed. Maybe 10 frames if he’s doing it in a rush, and possibly 22 frames if he’s moving very slowing (such as because of an injury).

Key framing example

There is a 3rd to take away from this, combining the elements of the two. The best of both worlds, though it can be difficult to strike a balance between planning and spontaneity. It also increases the work load as, you have to animate over the keyframes with what you have going on the inbetween frames. Which can sometimes lead to errors, especially if the key frames are quite far out. It’s the kind of thing I’ll learn through experience I wot, rather than by reading a book.

The 4th Principle of Animation

Principles of Animation 3: Staging

Bit of an enigmatic one this. While the others featured pretty simple designs that I could see, this one requires a bit more thinking around corners.

One of the most important things we learnt was the “Rule of Thirds”, a principle that everything seen on a screen or on a canvas has a 3 x 3 grid across it, and the main focal points are where the lines intersect; Powerpoints these are called, and they do well to bring about ones attention to where it is most important. Centre staging, (the idea that placing the most important part in the bang in the middle) is an outdated concept. People don’t do that anymore unless they are on an actual stage, primarily because although it captivates the audiences attention, it doesn’t bring attention to any other detail that might be taking place. By using the rule of thirds, one can draw the audience to subconsciously pay attention to multiple aspects at once.

Darren Rowse explains it better in one of his posts.

I will be adding in some of my own examples as well, most likely cut from Resident Crisis. Which was a total accident, I’ll probably also make up some images featuring the rule. Keep an eye on this space.

Oh! We were also shown this, a short animation made by French Animation students from Gobelins Art school…. and it’s freakin’ awesome. One thing to take into account. Nobody speaks, and yet the story is pretty clear, this give it a much greater international audience without translation. Something to remember.

Resi crisis still 1This was a still taken from Resident Crisis. Before I was even aware of the rule of thirds, I had implemented it here in this perspective shot. Your attention is drawn to the hand as well as the characters and back again.

Principles of Animation 3: Staging