Animation Principles

Anticipation Principle

5 mins Beginner


Anticipation is the preparation for an action such as a jump or a punch. For example, a character will squat down before pushing his body and legs up into a jump. The stronger the anticipation motion, the more cartoony and fluid the animation will be. The smaller the anticipation, the more stiff the animation will be.

Anticipation animation principle - jumping character sketch

  • Actions in animation happen very fast. For example, throwing a ball can take only two or three drawings to complete, which is not enough time for the audience to see and grasp what is happening. However, if the character winds-up and then pauses before the pitch, the events taking place become a lot clearer to the audience. Therefore, anticipation is an important element in the timing of any animation.
  • Before a character takes any kind of action (unless completely surprised), the character must think and plan. A character that is about to jump might first crouch down low and then push off with its feet. Anticipation also gives insight into the thoughts of a character.
  • Anticipation allows the audience to clearly see what a character is doing and understand what the character is planning, so that each action does not come as an abrupt surprise.

You might consider getting someone to demonstrate anticipation and resulting actions, or get into the habit of acting out, in front of a mirror, the action you want to draw.


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