TheCGBros CGInsider Newsletter

Editor's Note

With all of the new tools and technologies out there to help us create cool and compelling animation, it is often too easy to overlook the purpose and importance of animation as a unique medium for communicating. The craft of animation is an important part of art creation for several reasons, and its significance extends beyond entertainment. We wanted to say a few words about some key reasons why animation is so valuable to our society and artistic expression as a whole.

Animation allows artists to tell stories in a visually compelling and imaginative way. It transcends the limitations of live-action and can depict fantastical worlds, creatures, and events, making it a powerful medium for narrative exploration. It has the ability to appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds as well as convey complex ideas and emotions in a format that is accessible to both children and adults, making it a versatile tool for conveying messages and sparking discussions.

Animation can simplify complex concepts and communicate them effectively through visuals. It’s used in educational videos, infographics, and scientific simulations to convey information in an engaging and easily digestible manner in addition to allowing artists to explore and express their cultural heritage, traditions, and unique perspectives. Different cultures have their own styles of animation that reflect their history and values, contributing to a diverse global artistic landscape.

This unique medium can often delve into societal issues and provoke thought and discussion on important topics such as politics, environmentalism, and social justice through the use of metaphor and allegory, and animators can address sensitive subjects in ways that engage viewers and encourage critical thinking.

Animation has a special way of inspiring creativity and imagination by encouraging people, especially children, to dream, create, and explore their own artistic talents. Many artists cite animated films and series as their early sources of inspiration.

Watching animated shows on Saturday mornings as children, whether it was hand drawn or claymation, we were introduced to special characters and taken to special places that we’ll never forget and we shouldn’t take for granted what a significant role in shaping our cultural landscape it plays.

"The 12 Essential Rules Of Good Animation"

This month in TheCGInsider Newsletter- September 2023: We’re taking a look at understanding the importance of using the 12 basic rules for creating good animation! 

Principles Are Really Just Guidelines.

The 12 principles of animation, first introduced by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their book “The Illusion of Life,” are a set of guidelines for creating believable and lifelike animation. These principles can be applied to any form of animation, whether traditional hand-drawn animation, computer animation, or stop-motion animation.

One of the most used principles is Squash and Stretch. This principle involves altering the shape of an object to exaggerate its movement and give it a sense of weight and flexibility. For example, a bouncing ball will be squashed when it hits the ground and stretched as it bounces back up. This gives the audience a clear sense of the ball’s movement and the forces acting upon it.

Dying of Anticipation.

The next principle is Anticipation. This principle involves creating a visual cue before an action takes place, to prepare the audience for the upcoming movement. For example, a character about to jump will bend their knees and lean forward before leaping into the air. This anticipation makes the movement feel more believable and believable.

Another very important concept of animation is the principle of Staging. This principle is about making sure that the audience is able to clearly see and understand the action taking place on the screen. Good staging involves using strong poses, clear lighting, and appropriate camera angles to direct the audience’s attention to the most important elements of the scene.

More Tips Straight Ahead.

To get deeper into the weeds of animation you’ll want to learn about “Straight-Ahead Action and Pose to Pose”. These two principles refer to the two different approaches to animating movement. Straight-ahead action involves animating a scene frame by frame, starting at the first frame and working through to the last. Pose to pose, on the other hand, involves planning out keyframes or poses in a scene and then working to fill in the movement between them.

Follow-Through and Overlapping Action is another basic principle that you’ll want to master. These principles are closely related, and both involve the way that different parts of a moving object will continue to move even after the main action has finished. Follow-through refers to the way that a character’s hair or clothing will continue to move after they have stopped while overlapping action refers to the way that different parts of a character’s body will move at slightly different times.

Taking It Slow and Easy.

To keep things from looking too rigid, Slow In and Slow Out is used, sometimes called Ease-In & Ease Out. This principle is about controlling the speed of movement to make it feel more believable. A character moving at a constant speed will look stiff and unnatural, but by slowing down at the beginning and end of a movement, the animation will feel more lifelike and natural.

Let’s not forget about the importance of using Arcs: This principle is about the way that movement naturally follows an arc or curved path. By animating movement along an arc, the animation will feel more natural and believable because our bodies never move in straight lines and the parts of our bodies that move rotate in arcs around our joints.

Some of the finer points to follow include Secondary Action. This principle is about adding secondary movements to a scene to enhance the main action and make it feel more believable. For example, a character walking will not just move their legs, but also their arms, head, and torso to create a more lifelike and believable walk.


None of the principles that we’ve outlined here are much good without the all-important principle of Timing: This principle is about controlling the duration of a movement to give it the right feeling. A fast movement will feel different than a slow movement, and by controlling the timing of the animation, the animator can create a wide range of different emotions and feelings.

Exaggeration is one of the most utilized principles in animation and is all about exaggerating the movement of your character to make it more dramatic and interesting. For example, a character might jump higher or farther than they would in real life to create a more exciting and dynamic animation.

One of the more subtle principles called Solid Drawing is all about creating a sense of weight and three-dimensionality in the animation. This is done by paying attention to the way that light and shadow interact with the objects in the scene, and by using strong poses and clear lines to create a sense of weight and volume. This principle takes a lot of practice and requires an ability to observe the details of objects in the world around you.

The Real Deal Of Appeal.

Finally, after mastering all of the previous 11 principles mentioned, you will want to consider the idea of Appeal. This principle is one of the most difficult to get your head around, but in essence – it’s about making the characters and their actions appealing to the audience. This is easier said than done, but it is accomplished by giving the characters clear personalities and emotions, and by animating them in a way that is interesting and engaging and fits their personality and character type. 

By following the 12 “simple” principles of animation, you’ll be able to create believable characters and lifelike animation that viewers can identify with. While you don’t have to follow every rule every time, each principle helps to enhance the overall animation, making it more engaging and enjoyable and entertaining to watch. By paying attention to the squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, and other principles, animators create animations that are more dynamic and interesting, and that feel more like real life, as well as animation that is visually stunning to watch.  At the same time, you’ll be creating performances of characters that are engaging on an emotional level that audiences of all ages will remember for the rest of their lives.

Let us know what you think at! If you found this information interesting or valuable, please be sure to “spread the word” and pass this newsletter along to your friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising 🙂 Don’t miss next month’s issue of the CGInsider newsletter, where we’ll be discussing  some of the issues – both pros and cons – of virtual reality technology.  You definitely don’t want to miss it! 

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"Punch" - by Niccolo’ Smaldone

TheCGBros Presents “Punch” by Niccolo’ Smaldone – A forgotten pantomime theatre in a neglected city park in Italy tries to tempt a young boy away from the distractions of his mobile phone. Inside the theatre is a surprise character who will do his best to prove that real life can be more fantastical than the lure of digital devices.

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