Disney’s Principles of Animation

What does the 1990's fighting game Capcom Darkstalkers have to do with Walt Disney?

For decades now, Disney’s Twelve Principles of Animation have been a fundamental component of the way in which animation is taught and understood. The principles were developed by animators working for Disney in the 1930’s, and were later put into writing by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book, The Illusion of Life. As video game animation evolved to allow more sophisticated movement in the subsequent years, these principles became an influential component of the way many video game animators approached their craft.

There’s thankfully a pretty extensive range of resources available on the internet to help you better understand the principles. This video by animator Vincenzo Lodigiani offers a short and snappy summary of the core ideas.

If you’re interested in something a little more detailed and video game specific, the New Frame Plus Youtube channel has begun doing a series of videos discussing each of the principles and how they apply to video games.

So how does this relate to Darkstalkers? If you’re looking for an example of how the principles can work together in a single video game, this blog post by Richmond Lee does an excellent job of exploring how the 90’s Capcom fighting game series made use of the techniques.