How to make animations look realistic

Five tips for creating true-to-life animations

Follow Through & Overlapping Action

“Things don’t come to a stop all at once, guys; first there’s one part and then another.” — Walt Disney

To create a more true-to-life and fluid animation, you can use follow through and overlapping action. We use follow through on parts that still move after the main part/character stops moving. Overlapping action is the difference in timing and speed of ancillary components that belong to a main part or character.


Achieving depth and dimension in your animation can be done with simple tricks, like simply repositioning elements, shrinking them down, and possibly skewing them as well.


The principle of anticipation involves some sort of build-up that prepares viewers for the release of the energy. In other words, it’s about preparing for an action. Using anticipation in an animated project helps prepare viewers to follow what’s going on and what’s about to happen.

Squash & Stretch

Squash and stretch, an animation principle that uses the contrast of shape change, is a great way to add flexibility and elasticity to any animation.

Timing & Spacing

Timing and spacing is a simple, yet important principle. Timing refers to the timing (how many frames) of an action (going from point A to point B), whereas spacing is concerned with how close or far away the previous or next drawing/pose/layer is. If an animation had even spacing, then its movement would seem more linear. Otherwise, if an animation had uneven spacing, the movement would appear to accelerate or decelerate.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve found these tips helpful, I’d suggest learning more about the 12 Principles of Animation, which were introduced by two legendary Disney animators (Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas). Lastly, remember to practice what you’ve learned, and if you run into any trouble or have questions, feel free to comment below or send me a DM on Twitter!



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