Animation Secret: Getting There is Half The Fun

Key frames and main poses are vitally important in animation, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore what comes in-between! Today we take a look at how a few simple changes in the journey from key to key dramatically changes the story you’re telling!

You’ve worked out some incredible key poses that sync up perfectly with your soundtrack, and now it’s simple “fill in the gap” work, right? Wrong! If you want your animation to really shine you need to plan out every step of the journey.

Take a look at these two keys, for example.

In this instance, the character goes from facing left to facing right. If you wanted to, you could fill in a simple movement between the two and end up here:

It works. It gets him from point A to point B. And sometimes that’s all you’ll need because there’s some other element that needs the audience’s focus. With a few tweaks, though, you can have something MUCH more interesting. Look at what happens when we add a simple head dip.

Already much improved, and all we really changed was the Y position of the head in the middle. Not much more difficult to animate, with a whole lot better results!

We can take it much further, though. In this video we keep the head dip, but also add in some anticipation, then overshoot our final key only to settle back in.

This is just one example, kept simple to emphasize just how important the journey in animation is rather than just the destination. The next time you’re planning our your scene make sure to really have your keyframes sparkle. BUT THEN also find an entertaining way to get from one to the next. Before you know it your animation will naturally be filled with excitement and interest!

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Katie Wood

It’s an excellent tip to put in plenty of arcs and exageration – keeps the animation appealing and entertaining!


When you think your animation is good, it can always be better… 😀


Excellent examples for improving our animation. Thanks!


I think more books should talk about the inbetweens more because mostly they just talk on keyframes and then leave it at that!


Sometimes In-between can be misused too. For example, you can have a character jump from side to side with an in-between and that’s it. You gotta show the key 1 then key 2 and then follow the path of action(imaginary line of action) in this case the foot that will exert most of the force to jump to the other side will slightly bend and then continue to more in-between the foot will extend while the other foot bends.Continues the in-betweening process. When you the landing foot reaches the ground they bend a little to reduce the force otherwise leg may break in reality. Bottom line is that in-between is just not drawing in-between frames it’s more like does this convey some sense of movement in reality. Another example, just like if someone kick a ball from point A to B. In the screen, you see the ball crossing it. The ball should not be the same shape. you have to use the principles of animation call “squash n stretch” to convey that the ball isn’t just a ball it’s a ball n quick motion. Even in reality this happens

Janet Garcia

It’s amazing how much life those simple adjustments can bring to an otherwise lifeless movement.


Great article.