Animation Terminology You Need To Know


A keyframe is basically the building block for all animations. In 3D animation you must create a keyframe to lock down a movement in time.

A pose in animation represents how the character is positioned.

Line of Action

The line of action is an invisible line that can be drawn along a character’s pose. The character’s pose will follow along with this imaginary line.

Blocking is an animation technique where the most important story telling poses are created to establish the placement of character or object and how they will move in the scene.

Not to be confused with a breakdown. An in-between basically fills in what is happening between the breakdowns for pose A and pose B.

A breakdown describes how the character or object is going to get from one pose to the other. A breakdown can be considered a type of in-between but a very specific one


The timeline shows the frame numbers within your scene and can be adjusted to any frame length desired.

Twinning is a term used when one half of a character’s body mirrors the opposite half producing an unnatural symmetry.
Frame Rate

The frame rate is the amount of frames per second. It’s important to find out what frame rate your animation needs to be on before starting any animation, all so that you can be assure your animation will be timed right.
Moving Holds

A moving hold in animation means that a character freezes or moves very slightly in a particular pose for whatever length of time that you have set for it.
Polish Pass

The polish pass refers to the very last step in an animation. This is the point when an animator will add in the very small finishing touches to the work.
Gimbal Lock

In computer animation gimbal lock is the loss of one degree of rotation in a joint. In computer animation this means that there has been a significant amount of rotation that has passed the 180 degree mark, and the computer doesn’t understand which direction you want to rotate.
Breaking Joints

Breaking joints basically refers to rotating joints in the opposite direction to its normal bending. In the real world this wouldn’t be physically possible without actually breaking a joint.

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