12 Principles for Game Animation


Sunday October 3, 2021 - 10:00 am to 10:45 am

Disney’s 12 Principles of Animation are an important part of any animator’s toolkit and make all characters – 2D and 3D alike – feel more alive. When you work as a game animator though, you quickly find that not all of these principles, originally created for film, apply to your work. The Anticipation that animators use to tell audiences that a motion is about to happen breaks down when used for games, where games need to provide quick feedback to players. Staging, where animators direct the audience’s attention through placement of characters in a frame, is something game animators almost never use in its classical form. The Ohio-based game production Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends by Team Nemo has been wrestling with these very issues. Rather than using puppet-based or pixel art animation like so many games, the animators have been using hand-drawn keyframed animation, requiring that they reinterpret the classic principles so they can be practical for use in a game. This talk demonstrates the results of this work by showing how the classic 12 Principles of animation are utilized in the game, along with tips for how animators can use them for their own productions in both 2D and 3D. The talk is given by Chris Totten, a professor of game animation and design at Kent State University and an experienced game artist and designer with over 15 years of experience. The talk will include demonstrations of each principle using practical demonstrations of assets from the game and examples from other games to show how the principles can be used in multiple game styles. Takeaways from the talk: - Enhance your animation with the classic 12 Principles of Animation, revised for use in games: • Squash and stretch • Anticipation • Staging • Straight ahead and pose to pose • Follow through and overlapping action • Slow in Slow out • Arcs • Secondary action • Timing • Exaggeration • Appeal - Communicate your gameplay mechanics through your art assets’ motion - Build strong “game feel” through the use of principles that emphasize motion and reactions - Design lively characters and motion that both represent good "animation art" and respond to the needs of gameplay - Incorporate multiple areas of game production such as art, animation, and level design, to build a rich animated game world in both 2D and 3D