Animation Glossary


A simulation of movement or the perception of motion created by the rapid display of a series of still images.

Persistence of Vision

Refers to the way our eyes retain images for a split second longer than they actually appear, making a series of quick flashes appear as one continuous picture.

2D or “Traditional” Animation

When an animation is created using a series of drawings in a two dimensional (e.g. “flat”) environment.

3D or “Computer Animation”

When an animation is created in a computer using software that allows for objects to be animated in a 3D environment where the camera can be moved around the environment in the X, Y, and/or Z Axis.

Stop-Motion Animation

Animation where a model is moved incrementally and photographed one frame at a time. NOTE: Sometimes this is also referred to as “claymation”. However, claymation is in fact a trademarked term and does not apply to the genre as a whole.

Frame Rate

The speed at which frames progress in an animation. Measures usually as frames per second (fps). – In animation for film the typical frame rate is 24 frames per second. Since, most traditional animation is typically done on “twos” (e.g. each drawing is shown for TWO frames) a typical second of animation will consist of 12 unique drawings. 

Key Frame

A frame in a timeline at which a change will occur.

Key Pose

A main action or drawing that is set on a key frame.


An inbetween basically fills in what is happening between the breakdowns for pose A and pose B.


A thumbnail is a very small image or sketch used as a reference or an placeholder for a final image.


When a character or object that is symmetrical moves with both sides in sync and in unison. This “mirrored” appearance typically appears unnatural and incorrect.