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Squash and Stretch
LAUDED AS THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE, squash and stretch gives characters and objects a sense of flexibility and life. Also, this principle dictates that as characters and objects move and deform, their volume generally stays the same. Some of squash and stretch can be dictated by the object actually smooshing into something, such as a ball bouncing on the ground. With characters, squash and stretch can mean many different things. It can be combined with anticipation to make a character “wind up” for an action in a visually interesting way. One example would be as a character prepares to move, he may squash his spine, making his figure bulge out. Then as he springs into motion, his form elongates and stretches thin to retain the same volume. Whenever possible, use squash and stretch on your characters to give a sense of strain (a character reaching for something high overhead), or to give a sense of fear (a character squashes into a little ball in a corner to avoid being seen by a predator). Start looking for squash and stretch in professional animation and in life, and you’ll see quickly how much this simple principle adds to the illusion of life we give objects and characters.
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