Learning to draw cartoons starts with understanding the basic principles of creating animations. Know the principles you need to adhere to so that you can make an appealing and life-like animation.
Learning to draw cartoons will not be complete without taking into consideration the principles of animation. These principles were introduced in the book "The Illusion Of Life" written by the two Disney animators Mr. Frank Thomas and Mr. Ollie Johnston. Both men were part of the Nine OLD men or the group of leading Disney animator back in the 1930s. The book has been considered the bible of animation y every beginner and experienced animator because the principles explained here can help create realistic cartoons. Squash And StretchThis principle provides volume and weight to the cartoon character as it shifts in the animation. It is also useful in making facial expressions and in giving life to dialogue. This is the most relevant and frequently used principle. AnticipationAs the name suggests, this law allows the audience to be prepared and to expect for the following major action by the character like running, jumping and changing expression. For example, a dancer will not immediately be seen leaping from the floor, instead, he/she will be illustrated to move backwards first before moving forward to leap. Anticipation here is the backward motion.StagingThe character's action or pose must noticeably illustrate to the audience what idea, mood, reaction or attitude it possesses in relation to the story plot as the story line progresses. Telling the entire story is greatly helped with the proper use of close up, medium and long shots and also the angles of the camera. Too many actions can confuse the viewers. One action should suffice in clearly stating the idea since there is limited time in a film. With staging, the attention of the audience is directed to the idea and story being told. The background design must not obscure or contend with the animation so it should not have excessive details. The animation and the background must work and blend together to create a clear picture. Straight Ahead/Pose-to-PoseStraight ahead refers to how the animation begins in the initial drawing and every other subsequent drawing until the scene's end. Proportions, volume and size may be lost, but the action provides freshness and naturalness. Pose-to-pose, on the other hand, is more premeditated with key drawings shown at intervals.Follow Through/OverlappingFollow through is the principle that describes how nothing stops at the same time in an animation. This means that when the character's action is stopped, all other components (like arms and legs or dress) will follow the same action path by the main body. Overlapping refers to the changing of direction of the main body while the dresses or hair still continue in the forward direction. Timing is crucial to make overlapping action effective. Slow Out/InThese actions can help soften an action so that the scene would appear more life-like. In a gag action, this principle provides the surprise or shock appeal element. ArcsEvery action, except that of a mechanical device usually follows the arc or a path that is slightly circular. Arcs offer the animation with better flow and more natural action. Secondary ActionIt is the action that can enrich the main action of the character. It serves to add more dimension to the animation.TimingPerfect Timing is most generally achieved through experience and experimentation (trial and error). Basically, the action becomes smooth and slow when there are more drawings in between the poses.ExaggerationYou may think it describes a distortion in the animation; but in truth, it refers to the caricature of expressions, actions, attitudes, poses and facial features. It adds more appeal to the film. Common sense and good taste must be combined so as not to animate excessively. Solid DrawingThis action gives focus to the dimensions of drawing. There are three dimensions: weight, form and volume solidity that move in space; while the fourth dimension, illusion, moves with time. AppealAppeal of an animation refers to the design, clarity and personality of the cartoon character. These qualities affect how the character will capture and draw interests of the audience.