CGAfrica | Dive into the World of Movement: Fundamentals of 2D Animation

Dive into the World of Movement: Fundamentals of 2D Animation

CGAfrica | Tobi Ayegbusi
Tobi Ayegbusi
10 Jan 2024

2D animation, the art of bringing still images to life, has captivated audiences for over a century. From the playful antics of Mickey Mouse to the epic battles of Studio Ghibli films, 2D animation continues to enthrall and inspire. But what exactly are the fundamentals that make this art form tick? 


The Illusion of Movement 

At its core, 2D animation relies on the persistence of vision. This phenomenon tricks our brains into perceiving a rapid succession of still images as continuous movement. By showing slightly different drawings quickly, animators create the illusion of life and motion. 

Building the Foundation 


Before diving into animation, itself, mastering the basics of drawing and design is crucial. This includes understanding: 

Anatomy and Proportion 

Whether it's characters or objects, proper proportions and anatomical knowledge are essential for believable movement. 

Solid Drawing Skills 

Mastering line weight, shading, and perspective is vital for creating depth and dimension in your drawings. 

Color Theory  

Choosing the right colors and palettes can set the mood, enhance storytelling, and make your animation visually appealing. 

The 12 Principles of Animation 


These principles, developed by the legendary animators at Disney, serve as a guiding light for creating dynamic and expressive animation. They include: 

Squash and Stretch:  

Exaggerating the deformation of objects adds weight and realism to movement. 


Preparing an object for action builds tension and makes the movement more believable. 


Directing the viewer's attention to the most important parts of the scene. 

Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose:  

Two different approaches to animation, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

Follow-through and Overlapping Action:  

Objects continue to move past their stopping point, and different parts of the body move at different speeds. 

Slow In and Slow Out:  

Movements rarely start and stop abruptly, adding a sense of realism and fluidity. 


Most natural movements follow curved paths, not straight lines. 

Secondary Action:  

Adding subtle details to enrich the animation and make it feel more alive. 


The speed and duration of each movement are crucial for conveying emotion and impact. 


Pushing the boundaries of reality can make animation more appealing and memorable. 

Solid Drawing:  

Building a strong foundation in drawing skills is essential for creating believable and appealing animation. 


Creating characters and objects that are visually interesting and emotionally engaging. 

Tools of the Trade 

While traditional animation involves hand-drawn frames and physical cells, modern animators have a plethora of digital tools at their disposal. Popular software like Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, and OpenToonz allow for efficient animation creation, editing, and effects. 

Practice Makes Perfect 


Just like any other skill, mastering 2D animation takes time and dedication. Start with small projects, experiment with different techniques, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. There are numerous online resources, tutorials, and communities dedicated to helping aspiring animators hone their craft. 

Beyond the Basics 


Once you've grasped the fundamentals, explore storytelling, character design, and animation techniques specific to your chosen style. Whether you're drawn to the fluidity of traditional animation, the vibrancy of anime, or the simplicity of cutout animation, there's a world of creative possibilities waiting to be explored. 

Remember, animation is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the learning process, experiment, and most importantly, have fun! 

Ready to Animate? 

The world of 2D animation awaits! With dedication, practice, and a passion for storytelling, you can bring your own creative vision to life and share it with the world. So, grab your pencils, open your animation software, and start creating!