Slow In and Slow Out in Animation: Examples and How to Use Them

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Slow in, slow out is a principle of animation that makes things look more natural. Starting slowly and then speeding up is slow in, while starting slowly and then slowing down is slow out. This technique adds dynamics to animations.

This article will cover what slow in, slow out is, how it’s used, and how you can incorporate it into your own animations.

What is slow in and slow out in animation

Mastering the Art of Slow-In and Slow-Out in Animation

Picture this: you’re animating a character leaping into action, but something feels off. The movement seems unnatural, and you can’t quite put your finger on why. Enter the Slow-In and Slow-Out principle. This essential animation technique breathes life into your characters and objects by mimicking the way things move in the real world. When we start and stop moving, it’s rarely instantaneous – we accelerate and decelerate. By applying this principle (one of the 12 in animation), you’ll create more believable, dynamic animations that captivate your audience.

Breaking Down the Slow-In and Slow-Out Principle

To truly grasp the concept, let’s dissect the two components of this animation law:

As a character or object begins to move, it starts with a slower speed, gradually accelerating until it reaches its peak velocity. This mimics the natural process of building momentum.


Conversely, when a character or object comes to a stop, it doesn’t happen abruptly. Instead, it decelerates, slowing down before finally coming to a halt.

By incorporating these principles into your animations, you’ll create a more fluid and realistic sense of motion.

Timing is Everything

One of the keys to effectively using Slow-In and Slow-Out is understanding timing. In animation, timing refers to the number of frames it takes for an action to occur. To create the desired effect, you’ll need to adjust the timing of your frames accordingly:

  • For Slow-In, start with fewer frames at the beginning of the movement, then increase the number of frames as the character or object accelerates.
  • For Slow-Out, do the opposite – begin with more frames as the character or object decelerates, then gradually reduce the number of frames as it comes to a stop.

By manipulating the timing of your frames, you’ll achieve the perfect balance of acceleration and deceleration, resulting in a more natural and engaging animation.

Applying the Principle to Different Types of Motion

The beauty of the Slow-In and Slow-Out principle is its versatility. It can be applied to a wide range of movements, from a character’s subtle gestures to the grand, sweeping motions of an object. Here are a few examples:

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Character Movements:
When animating a character walking, jumping, or waving, use Slow-In and Slow-Out to create a more lifelike sense of motion.

Object Movements:
Whether it’s a car speeding down the road or a ball bouncing across the screen, applying this principle will make the movement feel more authentic and dynamic.

Remember, the key is to observe and study real-life movements to understand how the Slow-In and Slow-Out principle can be applied to your animations.

So, the next time you’re animating a character or object, don’t forget to incorporate the Slow-In and Slow-Out principle. By doing so, you’ll not only create more realistic and engaging animations but also elevate your skills as an animator. Happy animating!

Mastering the Art of Slow In and Slow Out in Animation

As an animator, I’ve come to appreciate the subtle nuances that can make or break the realism of my animations. One of the most crucial aspects I’ve learned is the principle of slow in and slow out. This concept is all about how objects need time to accelerate and decelerate as they move, which can be depicted by adding more frames at the beginning and end of an action. Trust me, it’s a game-changer when it comes to making your animations look more lifelike.

Applying the Principle to Your Animations

Now that we’ve established the importance of slow in and slow out, let’s dive into how you can apply this principle to your animations. Here are some key steps to follow:

  • Observe real-life movements: To truly grasp the concept of slow in and slow out, it’s essential to study real-life movements. Pay attention to how objects and characters accelerate and decelerate in various situations, and try to reproduce these movements in your animations.
  • Adjust the timing of your frames: When animating, remember to add more frames at the beginning and end of an action to depict the acceleration and deceleration. This will create a more realistic sense of movement and speed.
  • Experiment with different objects and characters: The slow in and slow out principle can be applied to various types of animations, from a bouncing ball to complex character movements. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see how this principle can enhance your animations.

Embracing the Laws of Motion and Gravity

As an animator, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the laws of motion and gravity, as these will heavily influence the slow in and slow out principle. By incorporating these laws into your animations, you’ll create a more believable and realistic sense of movement and speed. So, don’t shy away from studying the laws of motion and gravity – they’ll be your best friends in the world of animation.

Remember, the key to mastering slow in and slow out is practice, observation, and experimentation. By applying this principle to your animations, you’ll bring your characters and objects to life with a more realistic sense of movement and speed. Happy animating!

Slow In & Slow Out: Animation in Action

As an animation enthusiast, I can’t help but think of Disney when it comes to excellent examples of slow in and slow out. Disney animators have been using this principle since the early days of the studio, and it’s one of the reasons their animations are so beloved. One of my favorite examples is the scene in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” where the dwarfs are marching home from work. The characters’ movements start slow, pick up speed, and then slow down again as they approach their destination. This gradual change in speed and spacing makes their movements appear more natural and lifelike.

Contemporary Animation: Road Runner and the Art of Speed

Fast forward to contemporary animation, and we can see slow in and slow out at play in the famous “Road Runner” cartoons. When the Road Runner begins to run, he starts off slowly, picking up speed until he’s traveling at his maximum pace. When he needs to stop or change direction, he does so by slowing down gradually. This is a perfect demonstration of slow in and slow out in action, as the character’s movements are depicted with fewer drawings at the beginning and end of the action, and more drawings clustered together at the points of maximum speed.

Everyday Objects: The Pendulum Swing

Slow in and slow out isn’t just limited to character movements; it can also be applied to objects in animation. A classic example is the movement of a pendulum. When a pendulum starts to swing, it moves slowly at first, gradually picking up speed until it reaches its highest point. As it begins to swing back, it slows down again, coming to a brief stop before starting its next swing. This natural movement is a result of the slow in and slow out principle, and animators can use this knowledge to create more realistic and convincing object movements in their work.

Additional Tips for Applying Slow In & Slow Out

As someone who’s been there and done that, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way for applying slow in and slow out to your animations:

  • Start by observing real-life movements: Pay attention to how people and objects move in everyday situations, and take note of how their speed and spacing change over time.
  • Use reference videos: Record yourself or others performing the action you want to animate, and study the footage to see how the speed and spacing change throughout the movement.
  • Experiment with different spacing: Try drawing your key poses with different amounts of space between them, and see how this affects the overall movement and flow of your animation.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Like any skill, mastering slow in and slow out takes time and dedication. Keep working on your animations, and you’ll see improvement over time.

By incorporating slow in and slow out into your animations, you’ll be able to create more lifelike and engaging movements that will captivate your audience. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch your animations come to life!

Unraveling the Mysteries of ‘Slow In’ & ‘Slow Out’ in Animation

Picture this: you’re watching a cactus in an animated video, and it suddenly starts moving at lightning speed without any buildup or anticipation. It would look unnatural, wouldn’t it? That’s where the principles of ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’ come into play. By gradually adjusting the speed and spacing of an object’s movement, animators can create a more realistic and appealing motion. Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas introduced this term in their book, “The Illusion of Life,” and it has since become a cornerstone of animation principles.

How does spacing affect the pace of an animated object?

In the world of animation, spacing refers to the distance between drawings in a sequence. By adjusting the spacing, animators can control the speed and smoothness of an object’s movement. Here’s a quick breakdown of how spacing impacts the pace of an animated object:

  • Closer spacing: slower movement
  • Wider spacing: faster movement

By combining the principles of ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out,’ animators can create a gradual acceleration and deceleration of an object, making the movement feel more natural and believable.

How do ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’ relate to other animation principles?

‘Slow in’ and ‘slow out’ are just two of the many animation principles enlisted by animators to bring their creations to life. Some of these principles include:

  • Squash and stretch: gives objects a sense of weight and flexibility
  • Anticipation: prepares the audience for an upcoming action
  • Staging: directs the viewer’s attention to the most important elements
  • Overlapping action: breaks up the timing of an action to create a more natural movement
  • Secondary action: supports the main action to add more dimension to a character or object
  • Timing: controls the speed and pacing of an animation
  • Exaggeration: emphasizes certain actions or emotions for greater impact
  • Appeal: creates engaging and interesting characters or objects

Together, these principles work in harmony to create a captivating and immersive animated experience.

What are some practical tips for applying ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’ in animation?

Whether you’re a seasoned animator or just starting out, here are some tips to help you master the art of ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’:

  • Study real-life movements: Observe how objects and people move in the real world, paying close attention to how they accelerate and decelerate.
  • Experiment with spacing: Play around with different spacing patterns to find the right balance between slow and fast movement.
  • Use reference materials: Collect videos, images, or even create your own reference materials to help guide your animation process.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Like any skill, mastering ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’ takes time and dedication. Keep experimenting and refining your techniques to improve your animation skills.

By incorporating ‘slow in’ and ‘slow out’ into your animation repertoire, you’ll be well on your way to creating more dynamic and engaging animated videos.


So, slow in and out is a great way to add some realism to your animation and make it look more lifelish. 
Slow in and out is a great way to make your characters and objects look more lifelike. 
You can use it for subtle gestures as well as grand sweeping motions. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with the slow in and out principle and see how it can enhance your animations.

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.