This article is about the Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose principle. The 12 Principles of Animation are fundamental building elements that every animator should be familiar with.

Animation itself is a sophisticated language, and in order to understand it, you must first master the fundamentals. These 12 concepts were proposed in the book The Illusion of Life by Disney’s two principal animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Since these 12 guiding principles have served as the de facto norm for both aspiring and experienced animators.

The fourth animation principle, Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose, hints at how to approach animation among these twelve principles.

On the surface, it appears to be two distinct ideas, as if two animators experimented with them and chose to animate in separate ways. For centuries, many different ideologies have penetrated the art world, and one concept encompasses them all – classicism vs. romanticism, structure vs. spontaneity, and id vs. ego, to mention a few.

Origin of The Principles of Animation


12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Origin of The Principles of Animation

In their book ‘Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life,’ Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas defined straight ahead and pose-to-pose animation.
Straight ahead is defined as Straight ahead animation that begins with the first drawing and progresses from drawing to drawing until the scene is completed.

This method can result in a loss of size, volume, and proportions, yet it does have spontaneity and freshness. This is how fast-paced, chaotic action sequences are created.

Pose-to-pose technique, on the other hand, was defined as: Pose to Pose is more planned and documented, with crucial drawings done at regular intervals throughout the scene. Size, volumes, and proportions, as well as motion, are better managed this way.

Another pose-to-pose animation was allocated to someone else – an assistant – by the lead animator.

Using an assistant saves the animator from having to sketch every single drawing in a scene.

This strategy enables an animator to work on a larger number of sequences while still focusing on animation design.

Both The Illusion of Life and a handout written about the same time by fellow Disney animator Eric Larson reveals that Disney’s approach to this subject was frequently a blend of the two. That implies that you’d get the best of both worlds, but there would be some negatives.

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
The 12 Principles of Animation

The 12 Principles of Animation

These 12 principles, which form the cornerstone of all animation work, include:

  1. Squash and stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight ahead action and pose-to-pose
  5. Follow through and overlapping action
  6. Slow in and slow out
  7. Arc
  8. Secondary action
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid drawing
  12. Appeal

Let’s look more closely at the fourth principle, which describes the two basic ways to animate an action: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose.

>>>Read more: 10 storyboarding tips for creating animation film learnt from Pixar film Coco

Straight Ahead vs Pose-to-Pose Technique

Straight Ahead Action

Animators primarily employ one of two ways of animation. Because the animation truly moves forward straight away from the first drawing in the scene, the first strategy is frequently referred to as Straight Ahead Action. Drawing frame after frame till he reaches the scene’s conclusion while coming up with new ideas.

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Straight Ahead Action

The story’s point and the staging that needs to be done are already established, but since the first frame is being drawn, he has no idea of how the final product will turn out. The animator keeps the entire process natural and imaginative while using fresh drawings and gestures.

Pose to Pose

Pose to Pose is the name of the second. Using this technique, the animator organizes the action of his character and determines which drawings will be required to create the scene or action. Using this technique, the drawings are tied to one another in terms of both size and activity.

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Pose to Pose

By using this technique, the animators who work on the in-between scenes may fill in the action’s gap while also knowing how it will turn out. Due to the meticulously planned relationships and framework, such scenes are always simple to understand and effective.

Which is better?

By animating each frame in the sequence, straight animation is produced. Beginning at the beginning, you animate to the conclusion. Software for either 2D or 3D can be used for this. Straight-ahead animation has the benefit of giving the impression of continuity and movement. Because you aren’t speculating about how things will appear based on a static stance, it’s also excellent for producing realistic motion.

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Which is better?

Keyframes or poses are used as the starting point for pose-to-pose animation, which subsequently fills in the gaps between them. This can be done using 2D or 3D software, but 3D is way more awesome! It allows you a great deal more freedom and control over the finished product.

Relevance in CGI

An essential tool in computer animation is pose-to-pose action. Objects are constructed in a hierarchy, with a corresponding transformation for each layer. Then, a transformation from one stance to the next is added to the animation one step at a time.

For instance, while animating a person walking, the pose position at the hips at the beginning of the motion would be set first, then the hip translation would be adjusted for the finish of the movement. Then, working on this initial position, you would modify other model elements until you had moved through the hierarchy.

All of your movements must be carefully considered, and the time and positions must be arranged so that the action is obvious even at an early stage.

Straight ahead action and Pose to Pose example

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Straight ahead action and Pose to Pose example

Examples of Straight Ahead Animation

Because physics principles operate consistently and it is hard to foresee how they will behave from one pose to the next, Straight Ahead is so fantastic! So, for instance, when animating fire, you just go with the flow based on what you already know about fire and let the fire sort of build itself. We wouldn’t even know how to go in between them if we were to only consider the beginning and end.

Pose to pose can still be used to create the overall shapes, and filling in the gaps will make it look smoother. Overlapping action is another illustration of surprising animation.

Examples of Pose to Pose Animation

There are various words that are used when working from pose to position. There are three types of poses: Keys, Extremes, and Breakdowns, which are further subdivided into poses. Make the keys first, perfect them, then choose the character’s extremes to determine how far the character will travel in each direction, and finally choose breakdown poses to choose how you want the extremes to link.

You can start inbetweening at this stage. That’s all I have for Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose. Working with some hierarchy will offer you the best control. This is similar to a pose to pose within a pose to pose because you’re perfecting the postures at each level.

Straight Ahead and Pose-to-Pose: Pros and Cons

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
Straight Ahead and Pose-to-Pose: Pros and Cons

Straight ahead animation


  • Actions that are shown from beginning to conclusion yield slick and original outcomes.
  • Unplanned and uncontrolled processes lead to spontaneity and creative accidents.
  • The movement has a lyrical quality as a result.


  • It can lose focus because it’s challenging to make plans in advance.
  • It’s possible to unintentionally highlight the incorrect action.
  • Maintaining precise proportions is more difficult.

Pose-to-pose animation


  • It’s simpler to maintain uniformity.
  • Within the scene, your control is a little more.
  • A more dramatic impact is possible.
  • You can create timing-perfect animation.


  • Pose-to-pose can occasionally be stiff.
  • It creates a manufactured appearance.
  • There isn’t quite as much creative flow, and as a result, there are fewer opportunities for happy accidents to happen.

How Animation Can Benefit Your Business

12 Principles of Animation: Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
How Animation Can Benefit Your Business

The secret to reinventing your company and raising client engagement is animation. In addition to being visually pleasing, animations can encourage customers to make purchases and increase revenue.

Here are some additional ways that animated videos might help your sector:

  • Everyone like animation, thus plenty of people will watch and distribute it.
  • Video animation is interesting.
  • Because Google and YouTube prefer to promote animated videos, they boost SEO.
  • They make you stand out from the competitors and are outstanding.
  • Sales and conversion rates will increase as a result.
  • They aid customers in understanding your brand and goods better.
  • They widen your scope.
  • Your email marketing could benefit from them.

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To create realistic and aesthetically pleasing animations, animators use two distinct sketching techniques known as Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose.

This fourth animation principle is the only one that guides animators in choosing how to approach the work. Animation breathes life into characters, appeals to a wide age range, and is easily applied to increase product sales and conversion rates.

Once your shot’s inventive solution succeeds, you can proceed by working with the base you already created. The outcome will combine the greatest aspects of both approaches when combined with your plans.

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