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Quick Tip: Exaggerate Animation with Squash and Stretch

Jacob Richardson and Ryan Plummer

Learn how to exaggerate your animation using squash and stretch in After Effects.

Squash & Stretch is an "easy to learn, hard to master" principle, mostly because it's very easy to overdo it.

Want to show that your object is moving fast? Maybe your animation needs to feel heavy and make an impact, but how?

Squash and Stretch is a super simple animations principle to grasp but a little trickier to implement. The tools in After Effects are set up very intuitively for it, but there are plenty of ways to work around that and get your animations looking awesome.

Jacob Richardson shows us how effective squash and stretch can be for exaggerating movement and adding a little more life to your animations. Check out this quick tip and then download the project file to play around!

Squash and Stretch After Effects Tutorial


What is Squash and Stretch

From the 12 principles of animation, Squash and Stretch is an amazing way of separating amateur work from professional work. This may seem like an easy principle to apply, but when you start to dig into it this can be a hard one to master.

How does squash and stretch work and what's happening? To start off, let's break down the two different terms!

By manipulating an objects shape through stretching its height you can help give your object a sense of speed. Stretching is also a good way of showing strain on an object, and can help show how moldable or squishy your objects are.

Check out how Alumni Matt Rodenbeck uses squash and stretch in the homework assignment, "Pong Challenge."

Why use Squash and Stretch

We're trying to tell stories using animation, and in those stories we are attempting to give an illusion of life. Squashing can really help the viewer understand the up or down impact being dealt on an object. For example, an object hitting the ground or a persons cheek gathering when being punched. Like stretch, squash can show how moldable or squishy your objects are.

Wine After Coffee showcased this clean animation for Blend a few years ago, and the squash and stretch principle is so well done. Notice how you can tell the difference between solid objects and their counterparts, providing a truly dynamic experience.

When it comes to giving more detail about your animated subjects, keep in mind how loose or rigid your object is. If you have a bowling ball dropping into your scene it's probably not going to change shape very much! But if you have a stress ball being tossed back and forth, then it has the potential to really get bent out of shape!

See if you can spot the subtle squash and stretch details in this adorable animation created by the legendary Jorge R. Canedo E. from Ordinary Folk.

These rules can easily be broken if you're wanting to spice up an animation. Or even if you're looking to show speed using traditional smear frames. Smear frames come from hand drawn animations, but this isn't the article for that. Instead, you can read more about them here if you would like. Definitely an eye opener.

Here's a really cool onion skin of a bunny hop created by Markus Magnusson.

Ready to Learn More About Animation?

Are you ready to take your animation skills to the next level? Check out Animation Bootcamp. Animation Bootcamp is our most popular course, and for a good reason. It has helped transform motion design careers across the globe. Not only will you learn how to master the graph editor in Animation Bootcamp, but you'll also learn the principles of animation alongside hundreds of other students.

If you're ready to dig deep, and take on a challenge, head on over to our courses page to find out more!


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