Creating Realistic Movement

Creating realistic movement for the characters is another crucial aspect in creating a great animation. It can help so many aspects within animation, including making the characters overall movement less awkward and expressing the characters emotion better. There are many methods in which animators can use to ensure the movements of their characters are more realistic.

The use of the 12 principles of animation are fundamental for the realistic movement of both characters and objects in all types of animation. These “were first introduced by animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in the book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, first released in 1981” (Coron 2021). Each principle was worked on and perfected over the years and the key principles are applied to all animations we see to this day. The principles form “the basis of all animation work, these principles are relevant for a number of different fields” (Coron, 2021), so I will definitely make sure I apply as many of these principles as I possibly can within my animation.

A great example of a method which uses physical real life movements to help create more realistic movement within animation would be through rotoscoping. This was invented by Max Fleischer in 1917 and “is a technique used in animation to trace over live-action motion picture footage frame by frame.” (Bedard, 2020). Fleischer first used this technique for his animated film Koko the Clown where “they filmed Max’s brother, Dave Fleischer dancing around in a clown costume on Max’s roof […] in front of a white sheet for contrast […] that film gave them individual frames of Koko moving around […] then they just played it back, frame by frame tracing what they needed.” (Vox, 2019). I feel that this is a fantastic method in creating realistic movement, because it literally uses real movement to do so. And, even though I won’t necessarily use it within my 3D animation, I can still take inspiration from this method by studying footage of real life movements and noting how certain aspects of the body moves when doing certain motions and trying my best to replicate that for my character. 

When it comes to rigging, this is also an important factor when it comes to creating realistic movement. Adding lots of controls will help with creating a more realistic movement – and often, the more controls there are, the more realistic the motions and expressions will be. In particular, creating human characters can be really challenging due to the sheer amount of facial expressions, emotions and muscle movements we have. A good example of this would be the main character of Woody from Pixars Toy Story. In their 1995 film, Toy Story 1, Woody only had 596 controls, but by 2019 in Toy Story 4, he had 7198. (Insider, 2021). You can see the different in Woodys movements and facial expressions which are clearly visible when comparing the video footage. 

Overall, there are many ways in which we can create realistic movements. I will have to implement this into my character, even though she is a stylised character, she is still a humanoid character and I would like her movements to be quite realistic. 


Coron, T (2021) Understand Disney’s 12 principles of animation. Available online: [Accessed 19/03/21]. 

Bedard, M (2020) What is rotoscope animation? The process explained. Available online: [Accessed 19/03/21]. 

Vox (2019) The trick that made animation realistic [Video]. Available online: [Accessed 19/03/21].

Insider (2021) How Pixar’s Movement Animation Became So Realistic | Movies Insider [Video]. Available online: [Accessed 19/03/21].