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5 Important Animation Principles for Motion Graphics

Most tutorials teach you software and different techniques how to use it. This one is different. instead of teaching you software – this one teaches you animation principles that involves basic physics and makes your animation appear more realistic. A lot of people know how to add keyframes and get object to move, but only few knows how to make it move realistic. Watch this tutorial and be one of those few that knows.

Those principles are nothing new and I’m not the one that came up with them. Originally there are 12 basic principles of animation compiled by experienced Disney animators. I used just 5 because those are the ones that relates to motion graphics in general and not just character animation.

Tutorial and Example

Here I put together a short example to show you difference between basic animation and animation that has those principles applied. Also we’ll be breaking down each of them into a separate example to show you ways how to achieve this when animating titles, logos and other objects inside After Effects.

Click here to download example project file

Squash and stretch

The most important principle is “squash and stretch”, the purpose of which is to give a sense of weight and flexibility to objects. The most important aspect of this principle is the fact that an object’s volume does not change when squashed or stretched. If the length of a ball is stretched vertically, its width (in three dimensions, also its depth) needs to contract correspondingly horizontally.


Anticipation is used to prepare the audience for an action, and to make the action appear more realistic. For example a dancer jumping off the floor has to bend his knees first.

Follow through

This technique help render movement more realistic, and give the impression that object follow the laws of physics. “Follow through” means that separate parts of a body will continue moving after the character has stopped.

Slow in and slow out

The movement of the human body, and most other objects, needs time to accelerate and slow down. For this reason, animation looks more realistic if it has more frames near the beginning and end of an action, emphasizing the extreme poses, and fewer in the middle


Timing refers to the number of frames for a given action, which translates to the speed of the animation. On a purely physical level, correct timing makes objects appear to abide to the laws of physics; for instance, an object’s weight decides how it reacts to an impetus, like a push.