Learn how to use the classic squash and stretch technique to give your animations a life-like feel with this quick After Effects tutorial.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what separates good animation from great animation, look no further than squash and stretch. Created by Disney animators during the golden age of animation the term “squash and stretch” refers to the subtle manipulation that happens when an object approaches a surface.

By adding variations of squash and stretch to your image, you will give your animations an illusion of life that can help them look more professional. The following image is an example of how squash and stretch can be used to add life to your image. The circle on the left features a stiff circle with no squash or stretch added, the one on the right is a circle with squash and stretch applied. Notice how organic the one on the right is compared to its counterpart.

Squash and Stretch Example

Back in the day, animators had to draw each frame by hand. This painstaking process took a long time to perfect. However, things are much easier in the 21st century. Using the warp effect in After Effects, you can easily apply Squash and Stretch style animation to simple shapes.

The following tutorial, created by AE master Mikey Borup, shows us how to use the warp effect to create believable squash and stretch style animations.

This video was first shared by Mikey Borup on his YouTube channel. Thanks for sharing, Mikey!

Want to learn more about the principles of animation? Check out a few of the following resources:

  1. The Illusion of Life: A Q&A with Cento Lodigiani – PremiumBeat
  2. Animation Curves in After Effects – RocketStock
  3. Understanding the 12 Principles of Animation – DigitalTutors

Have any other tips for quickly applying squash and stretch to your animations? Got any squash and stretch examples you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.