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How to Master The Anticipation Principle of Animation

ben marvazi 2020

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Have you ever watched an animation and thought to yourself, "that looked too mechanical?". If so, it's likely that the animation was missing one of the principles of animation: anticipation! 

Anticipation is a technique that gives your character's movements a more natural feeling. It makes your character look like he is reacting to his environment and pushing himself along with an invisible hand into his next action. 

To understand this concept better, let's take a closer look at how anticipation works and how to master it in this blog post!

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What is the Anticipation Principle of Animation?

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The anticipation principle of animation is a simple yet powerful tool that you can use to improve your animation skills. It involves animating something before it happens, or in other words, anticipating what will happen next. 

It states that the end of an action is triggered by the beginning of it. In other words, if your character is going to jump, he should already be in mid-air when you start animating him jumping. Similarly, if his arm is going to swing across his body, then it should already be moving slightly outwards before you start animating it swinging across his body.

This technique works because our brains are wired to expect things to happen at certain intervals or patterns (e.g., if someone walks toward another person they will eventually collide). This means that viewers will subconsciously notice when an action doesn't follow this pattern and therefore feel something is wrong with their experience of watching the scene unfold on screen!

Anticipation helps make the motion feel more natural because we see this kind of behavior all around us every day - in ourselves and others.

Is This Principle Necessary?

women animated figure walking with long pants and high heels swaying her arms

GIF by Brooke Wagstaff via GIPHY

Yes! The anticipation principle is the key to creating realistic motion. It can be used to create more interesting poses, actions, and emotions.

It allows an object or character to move from one place in space to another by first moving toward its destination before reaching it. To better understand this, if you're drawing a character jumping into the air with their arms outstretched, their body will naturally move first toward the ground before leaving it!

How To Master The Anticipation Principle of Animation

a small white mouse bouncing showing the anticipation principle of animation

GIF by marko via GIPHY

To master the anticipation principle of animation, you need to achieve that what the viewer anticipates will in fact, happen next. This anticipation is heightened when you employ negative timing in your animation. 

Negative timing refers to the amount of time between an action's beginning and end or vice versa. Let’s look at the jumping example again, if your character jumps up immediately after they land on their feet (i.e., with no delay), it looks awkward because there's no time for them to anticipate their landing before they start jumping again. This makes it seem like they're just bouncing up and down without any rhyme or reason behind it at all!

To apply this principle correctly in your animations and make them look more natural, you need to employ negative timing by adding some sort of delay between states so that your character has enough time to anticipate what's coming next before making another move.

Negative timing is a simple principle that can go a long way toward making your animations look more natural and realistic.

The Key To The Anticipation Principle

super hero character fly kicking and punching the wind from a fan

GIF by Benjy Brooke via GIPHY

The key thing about this principle is that it helps build suspense in your animations by making viewers anticipate what will happen next. 

If there's something coming up in the scene (for example, if someone is about to get hit), then viewers will want to know whether or not the impact will happen before they see it on screen and this causes them excitement because they're anticipating something exciting happening!

When you use anticipation, it's important to make sure that there's some sort of conflict in your animations. 

The Anticipation Principle For Cartoon Characters

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Using the anticipation principle is a fantastic feature to add to your cartoon characters - using this principle with them is a way of ‘teasing’ that something will happen later on in your cartoon or video. Be aware, you need to use this carefully so that you don’t spoil it for your audience!

For example: if a character is walking down an aisle, we might see them putting their hands into their pockets or shifting from one foot to another before they actually start walking down the aisle. This gives us an idea of what's going on inside that character's mind at that moment (they're nervous), so when they finally do begin walking down the aisle, it will seem more natural because we already know why they're doing so!

This Principle Will Improve Your Animated Videos

my little ponies embracing in a group hug

GIF by Lionsgate via GIPHY

The anticipation principle of animation is an essential tool in your animation arsenal. It's the idea that you can create a stronger connection between your audience and the action on screen by showing them what will happen before it does, rather than just showing it.

This can be used in a variety of ways, from creating suspense to building excitement. When you use this technique well, it makes your audience feel like they're part of the story because they already know what's about to happen based on their previous experiences with similar situations or objects in other stories 

The Benefits of The Anticipation Principle of Animation 

a ball bouncing and rolling showing the anticipation principles of animation

GIF by Happy Motion via GIPHY

There are many benefits in using this principle but at the end of the day, the anticipation principle of animation can help you create better cartoons and animated videos.

It is a simple idea that can make your animations more compelling and engaging. It's not a technique you'll use every time you animate, but when it's appropriate, it can help bring life to your characters and improve your cartoons.

So, if you're trying to build suspense in your animations, then you should learn to understand and incorporate this principle in your animation creations. This is an excellent way to make your content more exciting and engaging for your viewers!

For more information about the anticipation principle of animation, as well as answers to any other questions you might have about working as a freelance animator, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and our Animation Business Accelerator Program, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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