What Is Anticipation In Animation? Guide For Beginners

Anticipation animation is an essential aspect of animation. It helps viewers understand what’s happening onscreen and immerses them in the story.

In this guide for beginners, we’ll explain what anticipation is and how it works in animation. We’ll also provide tips for creating anticipation in your own animations.

What does anticipation mean in animation?

Animation is all about anticipation. It’s what makes movement feel organic and alive. Anticipation is one of the 12 principles of animation, and it’s one of the most important. Without anticipation, animation would feel stiff and choppy.

Anticipation is created by giving a character or object a sense of weight. When you see a character jump, for example, you expect them to come down with a thud. That sense of weight gives motion a feeling of realism.

anticipation animation illustration
Anticipation as illustrated by Richard Williams.

The same anticipation is also used to create suspense. By delaying the payoff until the last possible moment, animators can keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Why is anticipation an important principle of animation?

Animation is all about creating the illusion of movement, and one of the most important principles in achieving this is anticipation. In animation, anticipation is an important principle because it makes movement more believable and natural-looking. When animated objects move, they should not just spring into action; there should be a sense of buildup or preparation before the action actually occurs. This principle helps to create a sense of realism and believability in animation.

anticipation animation head squash

If an animation lacks anticipation, it will look choppy and unprofessional. By using anticipation effectively, you can create smooth, realistic animations that capture the viewer’s attention and hold it until the end.

anticipation animation head turn
Animated By Nikhil Ray.

How do you animate anticipation?

In order to animate anticipation, it’s important to understand what it is and what it feels like. Anticipation is a feeling of excitement or eagerness that comes before an event or experience that you’re looking forward to. It’s usually accompanied by a sense of impatience, as you wait for the event to happen.

anticipation animation defination

Once you’ve created your character, you’ll need to set up the scene in which they’re waiting for something. Most people will go through the following steps in this order:

1) Head and upper torso move forward and down, pivoting at the hips
2) Legs shift slightly back
3) head and upper torso move further forward out over the knees
4) hands move to a position to support and push the body up ( to arms of chair and/or knees)
5) Legs, straighten, as the pelvis moves forward and up
6) Head and shoulders move up and back, and arms come away from support then straighten

A very general example of anticipation is this: go up before going down, go down before going up, go back before going forward, and go forward before going back.


In conclusion, anticipation is an important aspect of animation that can be used to create suspense, excitement, and humor. By understanding its basics, you can begin to use anticipation in your own animations to improve their overall quality.