One of the important principles to understand in all animation, both traditional 2D and computer generated 3D, is that of the arc. Most natural movement, human and animal, takes place on an arc. From the flick of a finger, to the swing of a baseball bat or a moving tail, the majority natural movement occurs on wavelike arcs or in figure eight like movements. This lesson will introduce students to the principle through visual examples to study, as well as through some simple drawing exercises that can be completed over the course of several periods or as homework. Understanding the importance of arcs in movement will help animators create more fluid and natural movements, from the smallest to the broadest of actions.

Lesson Time

Anticipatory Activity
10 Minutes
10 Minutes
The Pendulum Swing: Movement Along an Arc
30 - 40 Minutes
Animation of a Movement on an Arc
200 Minutes

Industries / Subjects / Grades

Industries / Pathways
  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
Grade Levels
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • Post-Secondary
  • Adult

Standards and Objectives


California's 2008 CTE Standards (7)
California Academic Content Standards (1)

Related Instructional Objectives (SWBAT...)

  • Students will be able to identify and explain the animation principle of arcs.
  • Students will be able to draw and create a layout/example of a pendulum movement that takes place along arc.
  • Students will be able to identify human and animal movements that take place along arcs.
  • Students will be able to apply the principle of arcs in an original animated sequence or action.

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