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Squash and Stretch Animation: The Secrets of Dynamic Motion

ben marvazi 2020

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Discovering Squash and Stretch Animation 

Animation is not just about moving images; it's about bringing them to life. One of the fundamental principles that breathe life into animations is squash and stretch

In this blog post, we delve into the secrets of dynamic motion by exploring the transformative power of squash and stretch animation.

a face stretching

GIF by zuggamasta via GIPHY

Squash and stretch animation is more than just a technique; it's an art form that adds depth, realism, and fluidity to motion. By understanding and mastering this principle, animators can elevate their work to new heights, captivating audiences with dynamic and engaging animations.

Join us on a journey to uncover the secrets of squash and stretch animation and discover how it can breathe life into your creations.

What is Squash and Stretch Animation?

Squash and stretch animation is a foundational principle that involves deforming an object or character to simulate movement and weight. 

The concept is rooted in the observation of how objects behave in the real world—when an object is compressed (squashed), its volume remains constant, while its shape changes. 

On the other hand, when an object is stretched, its volume remains constant, but its shape elongates.

In animation, squash and stretch animation is used to give objects and characters a sense of weight, elasticity, and impact. 

a bouncing frog

GIF by zuggamasta via GIPHY

For example, when a character jumps, their body may squash as they land, then stretch as they spring back up. This exaggeration of movement adds dynamism and visual interest to animations, making them more engaging and believable to viewers.

By understanding the principles and mechanics of squash and stretch, animators can create animations that feel natural and lifelike, even in fantastical settings. 

Experimenting with different degrees of squash and stretch allows animators to convey a wide range of movements and emotions, from subtle gestures to exaggerated actions.

Practical Applications in Animation

Squash and stretch animation isn't just about creating visually appealing movements; it's also a powerful tool for conveying emotions and enhancing character personality. Let's delve into some practical applications:

Expressive Character Animation

Squash and stretch can breathe life into characters by exaggerating their movements and expressions. For example, when a character is surprised, their eyes might widen, their mouth might stretch into a grin, and their body might squash with anticipation.

Conveying Weight and Impact
a bouncing ball


Squash and stretch animation is essential for conveying the weight and impact of objects in motion. Whether it's a bouncing ball or a running character, the degree of squash and stretch can communicate the force and momentum of the action.

Adding Personality to Movements

Each character has its own unique personality, and squash and stretch can help reflect that personality in their movements.

A playful character might have exaggerated, bouncy movements, while a more stoic character might have subtle, controlled motions.

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Enhancing Storytelling

Squash and stretch can also be used to enhance storytelling by accentuating key moments and emotions. 

Whether it's a comedic gag or a dramatic reveal, the judicious use of squash and stretch can amplify the impact of the scene and draw the viewer deeper into the story.

By mastering the art of squash and stretch, animators can infuse their animations with depth, emotion, and personality, captivating audiences and bringing their stories to life.

Mastering Squash and Stretch Techniques

squash and stretch claymation

GIF by Valentin Falconi via GIPHY

While understanding the theory behind squash and stretch is crucial, mastering the techniques requires practice and experimentation. Here are some tips to help animators hone their skills:


Study real-life movements and interactions to understand how objects deform and stretch in motion. Observing the world around you can provide invaluable insights into how squash and stretch can be applied in animation.

Start Simple

Begin by practicing basic squash and stretch animation exercises, such as bouncing balls or stretching rubber bands. Focus on achieving smooth, fluid motion before moving on to more complex animations.

Experiment with Timing

The timing of squash and stretch animation is key to creating convincing animations. Experiment with different timing intervals to achieve the desired effect, whether it's a quick, snappy movement or a slow, deliberate action.

Use References

Refer to animation resources, tutorials, and reference materials to learn from experienced animators. Online communities and forums are also great places to seek feedback and advice from peers.

Iterate and Refine

Don't be afraid to iterate on your animations and make adjustments as needed. Revisiting and refining your work is an essential part of the animation process and can lead to significant improvements over time.

Stay Inspired
a lightbulb burning


Draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including films, TV shows, and other forms of media. Analyze how squash and stretch is used in different animations and incorporate elements that resonate with your own style.

By practicing these techniques and staying dedicated to mastering squash and stretch, animators can unlock new levels of creativity and expressiveness in their animations.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Even with a solid understanding of squash and stretch animation, animators may encounter common pitfalls that can detract from the effectiveness of their animations. Here are some mistakes to watch out for and how to avoid them.


While squash and stretch is all about exaggerating movement, overdoing it can result in animations that feel unrealistic or cartoonish. Strive for a balance between exaggeration and subtlety to maintain believability in your animations.

Ignoring Timing and Spacing
a face stretching


Timing and spacing are crucial elements of squash and stretch animation. Neglecting to pay attention to these factors can lead to animations that feel jerky or uneven. Take the time to refine your timing and spacing to ensure smooth, fluid motion.

Inconsistent Application

Squash and stretch should be applied consistently throughout an animation to maintain visual cohesion. Avoid randomly applying squash and stretch to individual elements without considering the overall movement and flow of the animation.

Lack of Planning

Jumping straight into animation without proper planning can lead to disjointed and messy results. Take the time to storyboard your animations and plan out the timing, spacing, and exaggeration of squash and stretch effects beforehand.

Ignoring Feedback

Feedback from peers and mentors is invaluable for improving your animations. Don't be afraid to seek feedback and incorporate suggestions for improvement into your work.

By avoiding these common mistakes and staying mindful of the principles of squash and stretch animation, animators can create animations that are dynamic, engaging, and visually compelling.

Use Squash and Stretch Animation to Enhance Your Projects

In this blog post, we've explored the secrets of squash and stretch animation and its transformative power in creating dynamic motion. 

From understanding the principles and mechanics to practical applications and mastering techniques, squash and stretch opens up a world of possibilities for animators.

a rocket ship flying in space


By mastering the art of squash and stretch, animators can breathe life into their characters, convey emotions, and enhance storytelling. 

Whether it's a subtle gesture or an exaggerated action, squash and stretch adds depth, realism, and personality to animations, captivating audiences and bringing stories to life.

Are you ready to take your animation skills to the next level? Join us in unlocking the full potential of squash and stretch animation.

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today.

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