The principles of animation are a set of guidelines that bring the characters and objects to life in a realistic way. They are often used in the field of video game development and VFX. In this blog post, I will be discussing how applying the principles of animation in visual effects can improve your work. I will be looking at each principle and how you can use it to create better visuals. The 12 principles of animation were first described by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. The principles are still used today and have been adapted to work with computer-generated imagery (CGI).

How to Apply the Principles of Animation to VFX

The principle of animation is the idea that the use of motion can bring to life any object. The principles of animation in visual effects can be appliedin a number of ways, from creating realistic movements to making objects appear more life-like. The principles of animation are critical to creating VFX. Each principle is important, and it is essential to understand all of them and put them into practice. I will describe the principles that are especially helpful in the process of creating visual effects, but if you want to read more about all of the principles, please read my article about Principles of Animation.

Squash and Stretch

Squash and stretch is an animation principle that adds realism to an effect. When applied correctly, squash and stretch can give the impression that an object is moving quickly or has weight and volume. When used improperly, however, squash and stretch can make an effect look cartoony and unrealistic. As with any animation principle, squash and stretch should be used sparingly and with careful consideration. When used correctly, however, it can be a powerful tool for creating realistic and compelling effects.

Credit: Gregory Silva


In VFX, one of the most important things to keep in mind is how exaggerated an event is. The bigger the build-up, the bigger the impact. This is a simple way to get an audience excited about something. Animation in visual effects that exaggerates anticipation also makes the climax more intense. One of the challenges in VFX is to make sure that the audience doesn’t get bored during the build-up. This is where creativity and innovation come into play. By thinking outside the box, you can create build-ups that are both exciting and original. If you’re working in VFX, always keep in mind how you can use exaggeration to create excitement and anticipation in your audience. With a little creativity, you can make your VFX scenes truly memorable.


The purpose of staging your FX is to help the audience understand what is happening. You should stage your FX (motion, shapes, and color) so that it compliments the intention of the FX and draws the attention of the audience. Staging your FX will also help to set the mood and tone of the scene. Some things to consider when staging your FX include:
1. The size and placement of the FX.
2. The color of the FX.
3. The motion of the FX

Follow Through and Overlapping Action

In order to achieve a realistic and believable result in VFX, it is important to employ both follow-through and overlapping action. Follow through is the principle of physics that dictates that an object in motion will continue to move even after removing the initial force. Overlapping action is the principle that states that multiple objects in motion will not move in perfect synchronization with each other. By utilizing both of these principles, VFX artists can create more realistic and believable visual effects. Follow-through and overlapping action create a variety of different effects, from the rippling of a flag in the wind to the movement of a character’s hair. Both of these principles are essential to creating realistic visual effects. By understanding and utilizing follow-through and overlapping action, VFX artists can create amazing results.

Credit: Sjors de Laat

Slow In and Out

The effects should start slowly and gradually speed up as they approach their endpoint, then slow down again as they move away from it. This is known as the “slow start, fast action, end slow” principle. The slow start ensures that the audience has time to assimilate the information and engages themselves in the story. The fast action keeps the audience engaged and builds suspense. And the end slow gives the audience time to process the information and come to their own conclusions. You can read Visual Effects Pipeline in Games.

credit: JS QI


The principle of animation in VFX is the same as in any other field of animation: help the audience understand what is happening by creating a clear action with a strong sense of timing. In VFX, this is often accomplished by using a strong arc. The use of arcs to create smoother and more realistic animations. Arcs create the illusion of movement and flow. They can also correct any errors in the motion of animated the objects.

Credit: DDDDDD

Secondary action

Creating believable visual effects involves carefully crafting secondary effects that support the primary one. In order to create a sense of realism, it is important to make sure that the overlapping elements look like they go together. This includes considering textures, colors, lighting, and other details (such as how the rocks float next to the main effect). By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can create visual effects that are both believable and realistic. Read this guide VFX Style Guide.


When it comes to animation and VFX, timing is everything. The timing of an effect can dictate its speed, distance, and closeness, and it is quite difficult to master. Luckily, there are some key principles that can help you to improve your timing and create better animations.

 – The frame rate dictates the speed of an animation or VFX. A higher frame rate will create a faster effect, while a lower frame rate will create a slower effect. 

– The scale controlls the distance of animation or VFX. A smaller scale will create an effect that appears to be closer, while a larger scale will create an effect that appears to be further away.

 – The timeline controlls the duration of animation or VFX. A shorter timeline will create a faster effect, while a longer timeline will create a slower effect.


In order to make a visual effect believable, it is often necessary to exaggerate it. This is because the human brain is very good at spotting even the smallest inconsistencies. By exaggerating the effect, we make it more noticeable and thus more believable. When you’re creating an effect, whether it’s a small one or a large one, it’s important to make it as exaggerated as possible. This will help make the effect more believable and will also make it more impactful. Of course, there is a fine line between exaggeration and over-the-top, so it’s important to find the right balance. If you can master the art of exaggeration, you will be well on your way to creating amazing visual effects.

Credit: JS QI

Thank you for reading i hope you found this helpful.


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